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I bought a return flight with LOT flying out on the 19th of April and coming back on the 7th of May.

Since Switzerland has placed Lithuania on a 10-day quarantine list on the 19th after I got the ticket, I got another (this time business class because these were only ones left) ticket from LOT on the 18th without return, so I would land on 18th when I still don't have to go into quarantine.

Then yesterday it hit me that I had likely lost the second ticket, I called them and ofc they said "sorry" so I bought another one-way ticket to fly back on the same flight that I had a return ticket originally.

We had a chat with a colleague and he said I didn't have a chance to get my return flight without taking the forward one even if I flew business with the same airline, and the whole calling airline exercise was very much pointless.

Has anyone had experience with an airline that had allowed to use return flight when forward one was not used and under what circumstances?

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    Did you try to change the outgoing flight into a business flight a day earlier? – Willeke May 7 at 8:08
  • Nope, just bought a new ticket. – Matas Vaitkevicius May 7 at 8:10
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When you book a multi-leg trip on one ticket, missing any flight cancels all the following tickets.

This is because of airline policy to combat something called "Hidden City Ticketing", which you can Google. For instance a small town like Juneau might subsidize flights into the town. So Juneau-NYC might actually be cheaper than Seattle-NYC. Except all Juneau flights actually flew into Seattle to change planes, so Seattleites discovered they could book Juneau-Seattle-NYC and only fly the second leg. To stop this, airlines cancel all subsequent legs after you miss the first one. This is so "standard operating procedure" that they will do it automatically, even if you had valid reasons for doing it.

So, you need to call the airline back and make sure all your tickets actually do reflect your intended travel, and you don't have any "loose flapping legs" which could cause problems for you or waste your money.

It's perfectly fine if the coming and going are on separate tickets, but it might be a higher fare -- and it would also mean if there was a COVID problem that made the airline cancel and reschedule the outbound, you would not be entitled to a free reschedule of the return.

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If you don't show for the outward leg, you typically lose your complete ticket value. This is understandable, as by simply not showing up, you deprive the airline of any chance to resell your seat.

You can normally save a good chunk of the ticket's value by calling them before the outward leg, and rebooking to the days you want - or even simply cancelling it, and using the value whenever booking any other flight with that airline. There are often significant fees (200 - 300 $ are normal), but for an expensive ticket, there is enough value to recover.

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    Where are refundable plane tickets the norm? I don't think I've ever had one myself and I am usually flying in Europe. Getting a refundable ticket is usually associated with a substantial fee and then you have to, as you pointed out, pay an additional substantial fee if you want to cancel the ticket. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 7 at 14:57
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo : there is a significant difference between refundable and rebookable. Refundable means you can get your money back - I never talked about that. Nearly all "non-refundable" tickets keep their remaining value, and can be applied to new buys; the airlines don't point that out, but it is the standard. In a nutshell: refundable = you get your money back, non-refundable = you can use your money only for another flight. – Aganju May 7 at 15:01
  • I was referring to your statement 'or even simply cancelling it'. I checked the conditions of the airlines I usually use and their non-refundable tickets can be rebooked, but that is also just a courtesy they offer right now because of corona. Rebooking a ticket does however mean that you have to opt for a new specific flight when rebooking. It does not mean that you can place the money 'on hold' for later use. You can of course rebook to a new flight very far in the future to use that ticket just as a 'value holder' and then rebook again to a usable flight, but then two fees are due. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 7 at 17:18
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo standard for Southwest in the US. Also fairly common for regular business travelers who are more likely to buy fully refundable tickets with their company's money. – ex-user3761894 May 8 at 0:29
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If you don't fly the first leg, the airline will cancel the ticket. You have three options

  1. Buy a new one way ticket
  2. Cancel the ticket and try to get some credit for it that you can apply to a new ticket
  3. Change the existing ticket to a one way.

You should price out all three options and go with the cheapest one.

If you change your ticket, the airline will reprice the remaining leg as a one-way ticket and you will have to pay the difference between the new and the ticket old price plus a change fee (which is dependent on the terms and conditions of your initial ticket).

If you are lucky, the one way is cheaper than the original return and you may be able to offset the change fee.

This depends a lot on the exact terms and conditions of the initial ticket.

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  • I think you need to organize this before the initial first leg, not after you should already have flown. – Willeke May 7 at 17:16

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