What happens if you skip parts of your flight itinerary? Charlie Williams will tell you — nothing good.
On the way to their Hawaiian getaway, Williams and his wife missed their connecting flight to the islands. Hawaiian Airlines moved the couple to the next available flight. But the duo decided to skip that flight and book a more convenient one — without informing the airline. That mistake ended up creating a travel fiasco that cost the Williams over $1,200. However, the couple wouldn’t find out anything was wrong until they tried to fly home.
That’s when they discovered Hawaiian Airlines had canceled their return flight and voided their tickets. Now Williams wants to know how he can get his money back.
This story is a simple but critical lesson for air travelers: Never skip parts of your flight itinerary. If you do, your airline carrier will likely instantly cancel the rest of your ticket — no refund included.
We’ll just skip this part of our flight
Williams contacted the Elliott Advocacy team in hopes we could recoup the $1,200 that he spent on new tickets to get home from Maui. He was convinced that Hawaiian Airlines had canceled his return flight in error. Additionally, he wanted the airline to provide “two free round-trip flights to Maui” as extra compensation for his trouble.
“We had a delay on our flight from Denver to San Francisco. The plane needed de-icing,” Williams recalled. “We landed in San Francisco five minutes late. Our connecting Hawaiian Airlines flight had already closed by the time we got there. Hawaiian Airlines issued us two tickets for the next morning’s 10:00 flight.”
If that were the whole story, the only annoyance that the Williams would have experienced would have been the one missed evening in Hawaii.
But, of course, it isn’t.
Williams went on to describe that “someone” at Hawaiian Airlines gave him the (bad) advice to skip that part of the flight. He says the employee told him they should try to take a flight later that day on a different airline.
Williams took that advice. He purchased two tickets on another carrier. Soon he and his wife were on their way to the islands. They went on to enjoy a week on Maui completely unaware that anything was amiss with their return flight.
But there was a big problem with their return flight — a really big problem.
They didn’t have one.
As soon as you skip part of your flight the rest of the ticket is canceled
Twenty-four hours before their scheduled flight home, Williams attempted to check-in. That’s when he discovered Hawaiian Airlines had canceled their trip.
Williams immediately called CheapTickets, the agency that they used to book their vacation package. The agent informed Williams that the airline had canceled the tickets a week prior. There would be no refund or credit available.
The news stunned Williams and his wife.
Having no other choice, the couple purchased new one-way tickets back to the mainland.
Back at home, Williams began his attempts to retrieve his money from Hawaiian Airlines. He was sure the airline had canceled his tickets in error and that the airline was profiting from its own mistake. Unfortunately, he had not read our publisher Christopher Elliott’s article on self-advocacy tactics before he began his appeal to the airline.
Problem-solving tactics that never work
Of course, it’s natural to be angry when you think that a company has taken advantage of you. However, the complaint tactics that Williams took did not help his case. In his letters to Hawaiian Airlines, he demanded reimbursement for the cost of the return flight and new tickets to Hawaii. He wanted the airline to make up for his wasted time and irritation. He was still unaware that his decision to skip the part of his flight from the mainland to Maui had triggered the cancellation of his onward tickets.
His language, at times, was a bit salty, and although he redacted the full curse words in his letters, the message was clear.
“I am so pissed off and feeling everyone has us by the ****s so they could take our money, ” he told the airline.
We never recommend this tactic as it usually alienates the consumer from the company from which they are hoping to garner empathy. As could be predicted, Hawaiian Airlines did not respond favorably to Williams’ complaint.
However, in this case, the facts were not on his side. So I suspect that even if he had written the most eloquent letter to Hawaiian Airlines, he would not have received his desired resolution.
Every airline has the same policy about skipping parts of your flight
When I reviewed Williams’ paper trail, one thing was immediately apparent: Williams and his wife were “no-shows” for their flight to Hawaii. They had accepted a rebooking for their missed connection, but then purchased a flight on another airline. They headed to Hawaii without notifying the airline or clarifying what would happen with the rest of their ticket on Hawaiian Airlines.
When Williams and his wife took that new flight to Hawaii, they had missed the outbound portion of their rescheduled Hawaiian Airlines flight. Once the airline deemed the couple as no-shows, it automatically canceled the return portion of their itinerary.
The Hawaiian Airlines’ contract of carriage, explains that Flight coupons must be used “in the order in which they were issued.” And:
- YOUR FAILURE TO BOARD YOUR FLIGHT. We may cancel your reservation (whether or not confirmed) and seat assignments on any subsequent flight segments if (i) you fail to board any reserved flight operated or marketed by Hawaiian, or (ii) any other carrier cancels your reservation for failing to board its flight.
This Hawaiian Airlines policy is not unusual. In fact, in today’s world of travel, it is standard. Every major airline has similar language in its terms and conditions. If you fail to take any leg of your itinerary, don’t expect the rest of your ticket to remain valid. It won’t.
It is unfortunate that “someone” gave Williams poor advice to skip a portion of the flight. But he says he’s learned a harsh lesson and will never be caught in this type of expensive flight fiasco again.
How to avoid your own flight fiasco
- Don’t skip any parts of your flight or the rest of your itinerary will be canceled: Keep in mind that this is a standard policy in the airline industry. We receive many complaints from passengers who were unaware of this fact and skipped parts of their flights. Unfortunately, we can’t help in this situation. Don’t be one of these travelers.
- Book flights with a wider connection window: In this case, the Williams’ original flight was only delayed by a few minutes. Remember minimum connection times listed by the airlines are just that — the minimum time needed to connect. You can avoid many problems in your travels by making sure to give yourself a comfortable connecting time.
- Talk to the airline representatives: In the case of a cancellation or missed connection, the airlines are required to put you on the next available flight on their own fleet. This flight could be hours or even days later. If you choose to book your own alternative transportation, talk to an airline representative. In this situation, your onward ticket can be protected by the airline.
- Book directly with the airline: Unfortunately, the Williams had used a third-party booking agent. The employee there did not advise the couple of the repercussions of their plans to book a new flight without alerting Hawaiian Airlines. Travelers should always be aware that when you use a third-party agent, you’ve immediately added an additional customer service wall between you and the airline.
- Use a trusted travel agent: A professional travel advisor can be a “trip-saver” in this type of circumstance. A quick call to your trusted travel agent can provide the valuable guidance you need to avoid many expensive travel mistakes.