This is a hypothetical question and I would like to know the passenger's rights.

If an airline company treats you poorly and you wish to fly with another company OR if your flight is having a technical problem and you start doubting reliability of the aircraft while boarding.

There could be various reasons that you might feel uncomfortable to spend the time with the airline.

Does the airline allow a passenger to leave the flight regardless of any reason? And if the company admits their fault then do they refund the fee to the leaving customer?

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    No, you cannot. Even if you buy flexible booking ticket, you must rebook it few hours before the boarding and usually if you're checked in, you have no choice but to let them keep your money. When it comes to the "technical problems", it very much depends on the circumstances and the country. Mar 7, 2018 at 23:47
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    @ThisIsMyName I've had tickets that I could cancel for full refund the day after the flight, as long as I didn't fly on it.
    – Berwyn
    Mar 8, 2018 at 0:08
  • @ThisIsMyName Even many nonrefundable/restricted fares will let you rebook after payment of a penalty and the difference in fare. A ticket will be marked with something like "Cancel reservations before the scheduled departure time or TICKET HAS NO VALUE." if you do lose the full value.
    – user71659
    Mar 8, 2018 at 4:08
  • @user71659 I can picture the argument now: "I got off the plane before the scheduled departure time, but you didn't process the cancellation until after, and now you're refusing to rebook me." Mar 8, 2018 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


The exact details will depend on airline policy and national law, but in general, airlines would prefer you make up your mind before boarding.

Once the aircraft door is closed, you're generally committed. If there are lengthy delays of several hours, airlines in the United States are required to give you an opportunity to eventually get off the plane when it is safe to do so (subject to various exceptions). Beyond that, if you make enough of a fuss, the airline may have you removed because they consider you an "unruly passenger" and feel unsafe flying with you, but that's not a position you want to find yourself in (you could find yourself talking to the police or under arrest).

Before the door is closed, you have more options. If you have checked luggage, the airline may be required to remove your bags if you're not flying, which could delay the flight for everyone else. In some cases, they may also fly on with your bags, and it could be some time before you see them again. Without checked bags, you can generally get off before the door is closed, but you may have to pay a change fee to get on another flight or forfeit the value of your ticket.

All airline tickets are governed by your contract with the airline, normally spelled out in the conditions of carriage somewhere on the airline's website. Most are non-refundable. If the ticket is refundable and permits refunds even after boarding, you could request a refund according to the contract. Otherwise, you won't receive a refund, but may be able to change to a later flight with the same airline (after paying any applicable change fees).

  • Thank you for the answer and sharing the DOT pages. I didn't know there are regulations for the tarmac delays. It is good to know we have a right to get water or snacks while tarmac delay. Also back to the topic, it looks like a good idea to make up mind before handing over luggage to the airline agent. Mar 8, 2018 at 18:24
  • @RyutaroMatsuda Yes, deciding before you check your luggage (or going carry-on only) would be best. Mar 8, 2018 at 20:43

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