Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
While anyone can comment on regular blog post, registration is required in order to post a question in this space. Creating your account is free, and you'll be able to see when your question is answered, as well as like comments from other users. And of course, you'll earn status points for offering helpful answers!
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so please jump in and share tips!
Airline cancels return ticket if you don’t take first leg flight
Why are airlines allowed to cancel your return flight without notifying the passenger? I recently had to skip the first leg of my flight due to work meetings and had to buy a one way ticket for the first flight. The airline (United) cancelled the return leg arguing I broke a contract by not taking the first flight. If I paid for both flights and decide not to use one, why I’m not in my right not to use one as I already paid for that decision right?
The price you paid for is based on all the flights on the ticket – if you booked separate one ways, the pricing may have been different.
It’s always been the case that if you miss a flight, all subsequent flights on the same ticket are cancelled.
I think they should have notified you though.
It’s good that you posted since not everyone knows the rule. But the question “why” an airline does something like this is almost always “why not”? They make the rules, you buy the ticket or don’t.
Airline pricing is not always intuitive. A ticket from DFW to LAX might be $600, while a ticket from IAH to LAX, connecting in DFW on the very same flight, might be $200. If you could just skip the first leg, you would save $400. But the price at which the airline is willing to sell you the ticket is almost always based on the entire ticket as counterintuitive as it seems.
If one ways are half the price of round trips this is a reason to consider buying two one way tickets. You can bail on the first but keep the second. But, you also lose the advantage of only having one change fee for the entire itinerary.
Anyway, these are some explanations. They may not even apply in specific cases. The true answer to “why” is “because they can.”
Agreed with David and Ikar, some airlines (like United) drafts this very clearly in their T&C page upon payment. If you miss any leg of a multi leg (or 2 way ticket) booking, the airline treats it as a NO-SHOW and they will automatically cancel all remaining legs of your booking.
I might appear as a surprise to you but it is an industry known policy, as a no-show, you are technically costing the airline loss of sale on that seat. In that if you cancelled it, the business opportunity might open for another customer.
Alot of folks usually take the 1 way there, and at times, the tickets are so cheap, they rather forego the return ticket due to unfavorable dates etc… not vice versa