I don’t want to go to England anymore. Can I skip that flight?

Jack Buckley books a trip to Ireland and the U.K, but his anticipation fades after terrorists attack England. Now he wants to know if he can just skip the London side trip on his Aer Lingus ticket.

Question: I have two tickets booked this month from Boston to Shannon, Ireland, returning home from London via Dublin. Due to the current terrorist activity in London we have decided to cancel that part of our trip and stay in Ireland the whole time. We hoped to check in for our return flight in Dublin and forego the London to Dublin segment.

When I checked with Aer Lingus to ensure that we would be able to go home from Dublin even if we did not take the London to Dublin flight, I was advised that we would be subject to a $210 per person change fee as well as having to pay the fare differential from when we booked our flight and the current fare from Dublin to Boston.

After several hours on hold with Aer Lingus I was finally able to speak with a supervisor who agreed to waive the $210 change fees but was unable to waive the fare differential fees without checking with headquarters in Dublin. He committed to getting back to me by this Friday morning. I have no confidence that I will get a timely satisfactory resolution and I don’t want to be trying to resolve this while in Ireland. Can you help me? — Jack Buckley, West Roxbury, Mass.

Answer: The appalling attack on June 3, in which a gang of three terrorists rammed their van into unsuspecting evening strollers on London Bridge and then jumped out and began stabbing people indiscriminately, has certainly sparked a new wave of fear among many tourists.

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It is understandable that immediately after this incident, you began to question whether you wanted to continue on with your travel plans to visit England.

After all, this terrorist event came on the heels of the May 22 suicide bomber attack in Manchester during an Ariana Grande concert. That monstrosity, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility, killed 22 people — many of them young children.

The unpredictability and shocking nature of these attacks is frightening. And that is unquestionably what terrorism is designed to do: Not only to terrorize the direct victims of these attacks but to also cause fear and create disruption in other areas of society.

Like the travel industry.

Although, theoretically, your chances of being involved in such an attack are quite low, you did not want such recent horrific events on your mind during your vacation. So, for this trip, you wanted to avoid London.

You reached out to Aer Lingus with what seemed, under the circumstances, to be a reasonable request. And you were surprised that initially you did not receive the sympathetic response that you were looking for.

However, when we look at the terms and conditions of the Aer Lingus contract of carriage, it is clear that the first representative to whom you spoke was simply sticking to the rule book:

Section 3:3:1: The Ticket will not be honoured and will lose its validity if all the coupons are not used in the sequence provided in the Ticket.

Section 3:3:2: Should you wish to change any aspect of your transportation you must contact us in advance. The fare for your new transportation will be calculated and you will be given the option of accepting the new price or maintaining your original transportation as ticketed.

This is standard language in most airlines’ contract of carriage. If you do not use your flight coupons in the sequence that they were purchased, the rest of your ticket becomes invalid. If you need to change any part of your ticket, you must pay change fees and fare differentials.

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As a reader of this site, you were well aware of this and knew that if you simply skipped the portion of your flight from London back to Dublin, you would likely find that the rest of your journey would be canceled.

So you brought your concerns to another representative, who was slightly more amenable to your plan, but still needed to speak to headquarters to get approval. That’s when you contacted us.

When I read your complaint, I could truly empathize with your concerns. I also have a trip planned to London in the coming weeks and of course, after this last shocking attack, I briefly wondered if it might be ill-advised to take this trip.

As a side note, I have trip insurance, which includes terrorism coverage, something that could have protected you in this situation and saved you the “several hours on hold” with Aer Lingus.

With terrorism coverage, you can change and/or cancel your trip if a terrorist event occurs at your planned destination, typically within 30 days of your arrival date (plans can vary by company).

Unfortunately, you did not purchase a trip insurance policy with terrorism coverage.

In your case, though, your tenacity paid off, and the good news came to you before we even had a chance to contact Aer Lingus on your behalf. You emailed us and let us know that as a gesture of goodwill and understanding, Aer Lingus headquarters waived all the change fees and rewrote your tickets without the London portion and at no cost to you.

You are extremely pleased with this outcome, and we wish you happy and safe travels!

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a consumer advocate, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. As the managing director of Elliott.org, she leads the advocacy, editorial and production departments. Read more of Michelle's articles here.

  • MarkKelling

    Glad the airline was flexible in this case.

    However, the airline is not out any money. No mention of any type of refund of excess taxes, fees, or overpaid fares was mentioned. Given all the fees charged to land in London, the airline is probably making quite a lot by not flying the OP and travel companions on that part of the original itinerary.

    Also, the terrorist insurance mentioned in the article only covers cancellations and changes within 30 days of a terroristic event at either end of your flight and also within a certain distance from those points. I know there is a lag between when these stories are submitted and when they appear here so the OP may have still been within the window when he originally asked for assistance, but since the most recent attack was on June 3rd, the coverage would not be in effect for any flights after July 3rd. It is important to know the limits of any insurance coverage so as not to be disappointed when you attempt to make a claim and find you are not covered due to timing.

  • Travelnut

    There is an infinitesimal chance of anything happening to the OP on a trip to London worse than not minding the gap. There are places in the world I would avoid. London is not on that list.

  • joycexyz

    In addition, I would imagine that security has been greatly increased because of the attacks. I would not avoid London either.

  • Kristiana Lee

    My family of 4 were in Paris last week and London the week before and at no time did we feel unsafe. There was heightened security for sure but it wasn’t obtrusive. A lot of places inspected bags. The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and British Museum used bag scanners. I should add that we were in London during Wimbledon and Paris during the Tour de France so maybe there was even elevated risk? Anyway, I’m glad we made the trip.

  • Tom Harriman

    I hope we all realize how totally INSANE this discussion would be in any other industry! A customer calls up a transportation company and graciously offers to cancel two of his four flights, doesn’t ask for a refund of anything, and it requires a special waiver not to have pay MORE for this privilege! INSANITY. Of course, if you buy a roundtrip ticket because it is cheaper than a one way (more INSANITY) and just throw away the return leg, some airlines will try to CHARGE you or your travel agent for a service they are not providing. How about some governmental regulation to stop this madness?

  • AAGK

    Terrorism is a red herring here. There is no reason the airline should not allow her to just skip the London part without fees or cancellations, etc. I know the rules and the airlines’ position on this issue but I do not care.

  • 42NYC

    I disagree. The OP bought a ticket Boston->Dublin, London->Boston. This is a different product with a different cost than Boston->Dublin->Boston. A lot more goes into the pricing of a ticket then just ‘how many miles you’re flying’

    (for example, from NYC I can usually fly to Los Angeles for less than the price of a flight to Pittsburgh. I can fly Delta LGA->ATL->MIA for substantially less than just LGA->ATL)

    Further, the OP purchased a Non-Refundable ticket. The airline was upfront that this ticket could not be changed without incurring a penalty and the pax purchased it. 9 out of 10 times the non refundable ticket works out, the one time it doesnt, the pax suffers a financial penalty.

  • Daddydo

    This is purely an airline decisions and nothing more. On any given day with any given supervisor, the decision could have gone any way. The rules are rules! Obviously not in this supervisor’s case. I pays to be nice on the phone and it paid off.

  • Blamona

    There’s terrorism in Ireland too– just saying

  • jsn55

    MAGIC, Michelle! How lovely to read a story where the airline actually thinks through the situation and makes it right. Well done!

    I’m not sure why other commenters seem to think that judging someone else’s motives for changing a trip is something to bring up. Kinda small-minded.

  • Lindabator

    not true – tickets are priced as boarding point to return point — if they had changed the flight to connect thru Paris, he would have been out of luck getting onboard at the Dublin connection. Government regulations are actually WHY tickets are priced point to point irregardless of connections. He is lucky they waived all fees and just “skipped” his departure city, and booked him back from a different country

  • Lindabator

    and they don’t need to care that you feel rules do not apply to you — tickets are priced point to point irregardless of connecting cities (which can actually change at times). For example, had a client connecting thru Ft Lauderdale, but due to a schedule change, was then connecting thru Boston — which makes no difference, as he is still travelling from point A to point Z. Not from a connecting city onwards

  • Tom Harriman

    I am the travel manager of a big international company, I understand all the “tariffs,” ‘rules” and so on. My point is that those are ridiculous and the airlines have brainwashed us all into buying nonrefundable, nonchangeable tickets when who wants that? In this case, the traveler is asking LESS of the airline, and their immediate response was to try to charge him hundreds of dollars to NOT fly London to Dublin. Note than sanity prevailed in this case, the airline said, sure we will just pocket your London airport tax, not give you any refund, make one key click to change your itinerary to just be your return Dublin to Boston flight, and act as if we are doing you a big favor. What other industry gets away with charging you for LESS?

  • AAGK

    Trust me, no one has paid more in change fees than I have in the last couple of years so I know they apply to me.

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