Can you explain why airlines do this? I want to book a flight with Aeroplan to go in business class from Tokyo NRT to LAX. It shows nothing available on the date I want to travel. Same with NRT to SFO. However, if I want to book a flight on the same day from Tokyo NRT to Salt Lake City, it will let me book it with two stops. The flight goes from NRT non-stop to LAX, then onto SFO, then to SLC.

WHY? Obviously there is a seat available from NRT to LAX if that is the first leg of the flight that will ultimately land me in SLC. I want to check my bag, so booking it and then just getting off at LAX and blowing off the other flights is not an option. Do you know why airlines do this and is there a workaround? The flight is from NRT to LAX on All Nippon Airways. Then a 5-hour layover and the flights LAX-SFO and SFO-SLC are on United. Would I have to retrieve my checked luggage in LAX before I would need to (allegedly) get on the other flights?

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    Have you tried booking directly with ANA? Obviously ANA has seats available, whereas Aeroplan's quota for this particular flight, probably because of codeshare agreements, is limited to flights with a connection. – user67108 Feb 18 '18 at 8:52
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    Are you planning a round trip or one way? Because this won't work at all with a round trip: the airline will cancel the rest of your itinerary if you miss a flight. – Zach Lipton Feb 18 '18 at 9:10
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    Please don't use the title to ask a different question than you really want an answer to. Or is the one in the body not the one you want? – WGroleau Feb 18 '18 at 9:49

You've discovered a thing called "Married Segments", which is very common in the airline industry. Google will find you more information now that you know the term for it, but the short version is that airlines will reserve seats not just on a leg-by-leg basis, but also sometimes on a specific origin-destination basis.

As far as collecting your bags, you MUST collect your bag upon arrival in LAX. When entering the US it's required to collect your bag at the first point of entry before any domestic flights so that you can personally carry the bag through customs. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from simply taking your bag and then leaving the airport.

Even without the baggage issue, some of the usual "hidden city ticketing" (which is what doing this is called) issues still apply. eg, if your flight is delayed or canceled, then the airline could potentially send you on a different route to your destination (ie, SLC). eg, they might route you directly to SFO and then onto SLC. You can always ask to be sent via LAX, but officially at least they have absolutely no requirement to do that for you (as long as they get you to SLC in the end!)

  • Okay, thank you, that was exactly the info I was looking for! Great information! – Christie Feb 19 '18 at 12:42

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