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I have one flight with one connection: Tokyo to Rio with a stop in LA.

I'd like to postpone my trip from LA to Rio to stay some days in the US, but I was not able to this at the airline website (United Airlines).

The only thing I was able to do is to change the flight Tokyo-Rio to a Tokyo-LA and add another flight LA-Rio, but this is as expensive as buying new tickets.

My tickets are non-refundable and "change fee", so I thought I couldn't miss this connection but I could previously change the dates.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It almost certainly depends on the ticket, but unless it's a fully flexible ticket, I doubt you can do this cheaply, or possibly at all. The ticket is most likely a ticket from Tokyo to Rio; the airline treats the connection as incidental. In fact, in practice they could even send you a different route (not via LA) if it made sense to do so on the day (weather etc.). In most cases you aren't allowed to break your journey up, therefore, as that would be a different trip.

The only way you'll know for sure is to call the airline and ask, but if your tickets are non-refundable, prepare to spend a lot of money to make this change.

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Sorry to hear that. I think I'll try to buy some electronics between the flights, then (staying there for 5h30), but one thing you said made me worry: let's say I just got in LA get out the airport for shopping, can they anticipate the flight to Rio? –  Roberto Sep 3 '12 at 18:36
    
What do you mean by anticipate? –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 3 '12 at 19:52
    
I mean they could make an earlier flight to Rio and make me lose it because I won't be at the airport. Could they change the flight to Rio after I get at LA? –  Roberto Sep 3 '12 at 21:14
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@Roberto, it's theoretically possible, but highly unlikely. It's more likely that your onward connection to Rio would be delayed (weather or other problems), but I would be surprised if they brought the time forward. If you think about it, even if you were in the airport, how could they expect you to notice that? I think you'd be safe leaving the airport to go shopping. –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 4 '12 at 13:28
    
Thank you, Andrew –  Roberto Sep 4 '12 at 14:35
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