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I've a friend that booked a round-trip journey. He booked A-to-B and B-to-A.
Somehow he needed to be earlier at location B, so he took a train and did not take the flight from A to B.

When he went to the airport to take the "back home" flight (B-to-A), he was informed that his ticket was canceled because he did not take the A-to-B flight. They canceled the ticket and sold it to someone else.

Is this normal? The company said it was their right to do so, and he could not get the flight back.
The company was Iberia.

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Maybe this question can answer your question partially. –  drat May 20 at 8:39

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Yes. It is usually required that you fly all legs of a single ticket. Even if you skip the last leg, the airline might penalise you later. At the very least, you should contact the airline before the flight and tell them that for unforeseen reasons you need to skip one leg; in this case, they might not cancel the remainder.

Of course, in every particular case it depends on the fine print of your ticket. As Burhan Khalid points out, this probably just refers you to the policy of the carrier, for example:

The General Terms and Conditions of Carriage of [airline] apply. They are to be found on [airline's website] and can be provided at all [airline] ticket counters.

In the case of Iberia, I cannot find the relevant section in their Conditions of Carriage, so your friend might actually have a case against them (but more likely I am missing something).

As an example, another airline has

In as much a Ticket was booked that requires the observance of a predetermined chronological order of the use of the individual Flight Coupons, and the Passenger deviates from this chronological order, the Airline will charge the price that would have applied at the time of booking the actual route taken.

In other words, if you don't fly the route on your ticket, the airline can charge you for the route you did actually fly.

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When you say: "Even if you skip the last leg, the airline might penalise you later" are you saying that if I don't take the return flight I can be penalised? How? –  Ivan May 20 at 16:38
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I have heard rumours of airlines refusing to sell people tickets after they did this many times. –  Max May 20 at 16:41
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@Max, why in the world they could do that? –  user626528 May 20 at 17:00
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@user626528 ticket prices are not simply cost of flying plus some profit percentage; they are carefully structured depending on demand. Therefore, it's important to the airline's profit that you don't do things like use return tickets as singles. If they decide you're not worth the cost, they won't fly you any more. –  Max May 20 at 17:17
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@Max: They are not losing, maybe even saving some money if they are paid for two flights (even if those are discount prices due to the round trip), but only one gets used. So, again, why in the world would they do that? Of course, assuming the first leg is simply not taken by the customer, rather than cancelled with a refund. –  O. R. Mapper May 20 at 18:18

This is normal. Most airlines, if you tell them about your change in itinerary, will tell you that they won't cancel your remaining flights and it's all taken care of. However, I have always had the remainder of my flights cancelled no matter what they say, so keep that in mind.

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