The real reason you shouldn’t skip parts of your flight

Should Rob Rudick skip a leg of his flight from the Azores back to Boston? Our advocacy team tries to answer this seemingly easy question.

Question

I booked a flight and hotel package to Cape Verde Island and the Azores through Azores Getaways. The outgoing flight was Boston to Cape Verde Islands, via the Azores. The return flight was Cape Verde Islands to Boston, via the Azores.

After purchasing, I decided I would rather spend all seven days in the Azores. I asked to cancel the Cape Verde leg, but keep the Azores-Boston flights. The Azores Getaways agent said that if I canceled part of my flight itinerary, the airlines would cancel the rest of my flights. The agent also said the only way I would be able to return to Boston was to buy another ticket. So, I bought another ticket on the same airline, earlier the same day.

Canceling the Cape Verde legs will let the airline resell the seats. I don’t expect a refund for the Cape Verde legs. I would like the airline to allow me to check my bags through to the Azores instead of Cape Verde for my incoming flight. Additionally, I would like a refund of the $471 cost of the second return flight. Is it common that the airline will cancel the remainder of my itinerary if I don’t show for part of it? — Rob Rudick, Takoma Park, Md.

Answer

Yes. If you skip parts of your flight, it is common for an airline to cancel the rest of the itinerary. We receive many complaints from travelers who arrive at the airport for their return flight, only to discover that the ticket has been canceled. They then have to pay the much higher walk-up fare to get home.

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Based on our advocates’ cumulative experience, we would never have advised you not to show up, or cancel part of your itinerary. But even after receiving this advice through our helpline, you posted your question under a pseudonym to our help forums.

The help forums are staffed by industry experts and read by company executives. This is exactly what the forums should be used for: to seek information from as many different sources as possible. You did that. But, unfortunately, no one could recommend any part of your intended course of action.

What can happen if you skip parts of your flight?

Our advocates were particularly concerned with the Azores Airlines contract of carriage. Article 6.5 allows the airline to assess a service charge for a no-show passenger. And Article 6.7 gives the airline the option to cancel “onward or return reservations” for the passenger. This includes the second ticket you bought for the same airline on the same day. It seems rather clear that you should never skip parts of your flight.

Doing as your travel agent suggests could subject you to a no-show service charge and the cancellation of your second ticket home. But, not only did your travel agent suggest you book the second return flight, it sent you a link to book it through them. Our advocates felt that you received poor advice from your travel agent and that you took a risk with the second flight.

The good news

You followed up with us after your trip and let us know that there was no problem with your second ticket and that you enjoyed your trip. We’re happy that it went smoothly. But our advice remains the same.

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

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