Suppose I have this itinerary:

  • outbound: A -> B -> C

  • inbound: C -> B -> D -> A

A, B, D are cities in the US, C is a city overseas. I'll have only carry-on luggage.

One detail: this ticket has undergone a forceful change of itinerary (which I still haven't accepted officially).

I only need to get to D on the way back, and I don't plan to take the segment D -> A. Can I ask the airline to cancel that segment? They don't loose anything, they only get one vacant seat. Also, what if I don't travel this segment D -> A without letting anyone know? In particular, will the miles for the other segments be still credited to my frequent flyer account?


2 Answers 2


There are several ways to go about this.

  1. You can inform the airline in advance that you intend to terminate at point D. By doing this, however, they may demand that you modify your ticket to terminate at D. This in turn may well result in a higher fare and/or a change fee, strange as it sounds; such is commercial aviation.
  2. You can simply no-show at point D. They will page you for a while. After a certain cutoff time, they will give your seat to the next standby passenger on the waitlist, if there is any, and leave without you.
  3. I go to the departure gate for my D-A flight and inform the gate agent there that something has come up, and I will not be able to get on the flight. No one has ever pressed for a reason; it's none of their business really, but more to the point it's a busy time for them. Telling them saves them from wasting time trying to page me before closing the door, and lets them process any standbys a little bit faster.

Naturally, I would recommend option #3.

If you miss any leg of a flight, all subsequent legs are canceled automatically; this is a standard rule across all major airlines. Still, given the vagaries of airfare pricing, many people do deliberately book final legs they do not intend to fly, a tactic known as hidden city ticketing. This is technically in violation of your contract with the airline, and you could lose frequent flyer miles or status over it, though it's only enforced in fairly extreme cases.

The larger danger comes from ordinary operations. Your Contract of Carriage (or Conditions of Carriage) with the airline is to get you from A to C and from C to A. They can, at their discretion, change your return flight from C-B-D-A to C-B-A or C-F-A or some such, bypassing D altogether.

As for frequent flyer considerations, you will not receive any miles or segments for flights you do not fly, as a general rule. They base whether or not you fly on whether or not your boarding pass was scanned. In your example, you can still expect to receive miles for A-B, B-C, C-B, and B-D, just not D-A.

To head off a potential followup, no, you cannot have your boarding pass scanned and then leave. The flight attendants do a head count prior to closing the door, and after they determine that a passenger has left the flight, at a minimum your boarding will be canceled, and worse, airport security and/or law enforcement may want to question you.

  • Regarding option 3, the segment D-A is actually 8 hours apart from the segment B-D (to be precise, it's on the next day). So I won't be able to inform the agent at the departure gate. If I inform someone at the check-in counter, could this incur any change fees? Regarding option 1, assuming that there is some change fee, could I use the fact that there was a forceful itinerary change as a basis for waiving this fee?
    – user557
    Jun 6, 2019 at 19:47
  • @user77409 In that case, I suppose, you would simply abscond. As to option 1, as I noted in the previous answer, the time to ask about routing changes is right now (or five weeks ago). It's high season for travel in the Northern Hemisphere—and for thunderstorms at ORD and DFW. Lots and lots of travelers are enduring involuntary changes and irregular operations, plus AA is hit hard by the grounding of the 737 MAX. A schedule change from over a month ago, to be honest, is relatively unsympathetic, and by the time you are checking in for the flight, they may not have any seats available anyway.
    – choster
    Jun 6, 2019 at 19:57

Airlines generally don't like this, because it's often used for Hidden City Ticketing, in which you buy a ticket A-B-C intending to only go to B, because it's cheaper than the fare for A-B.

The answers to this question cover the potential issues, but in short:

  • It's probably fine as a one-off.
  • Be aware that the airline is obliged to get you to A, not D, so if there's bad weather or something like that, you may get put on an alternative routing that doesn't go via D.
  • You probably won't be able to get the airline to "short-check" any checked baggage to D, so you might have to go hand-luggage only.

I'm not sure whether the miles will be credited, although airlines have been known to cancel the frequent flyer accounts of people who do this regularly.

  • The OP says that he only has hand luggage.
    – Peter M
    Jun 6, 2019 at 21:55
  • 1
    @PeterM My original question didn't contain that information at the time when this answer was posted.
    – user557
    Jun 6, 2019 at 22:54

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