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I am travelling from State College (USA) to Madrid (Spain) with American Airlines. I have a flight from State College to Philadelphia and 3-hour layover before my second flight from Philadelphia to Madrid. My ticket includes a checked bag.

The same day of my flight, my friend is driving to Philadelphia by car in the morning and I would like to skip the first flight and go with her to visit a museum before my second flight.

The issue is that I have paid for the tickets, and in order to get my company in Spain to reimburse me for my transportation costs (this has been business travel) I need to present the original boarding pass of the two flights. So, my idea is to go early in the morning to the airport, get the two boarding passes, go to Philadelphia by car with my luggage and then from there take the second flight. I am not sure if this can be done. Can I directly check my luggage once I get to the airport in Philadelphia?

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    If it's all on the same ticket, if you don't board the first flight they'll more than likely cancel your second ticket and you won't have a flight to catch to Madrid
    – Midavalo
    Dec 11, 2023 at 4:21
  • Is it a single ticket itinerary?
    – Damila
    Dec 11, 2023 at 4:22
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    Can you change your booking to fly from Philadelphia? Note that it may be more or less expensive than the original ticket.
    – jcaron
    Dec 11, 2023 at 8:52
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    DO NOT DO THIS. You'll lose your entire flight
    – Hilmar
    Dec 11, 2023 at 11:14
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    Just a quick note that it's perfectly possible for you to leave the airport in Philadelphia to see your friend (you probably don't have enough time to go to a museum). All you need is your boarding pass to get back past security. Three hours might be a bit tight unless you have PreCheck, though. Dec 11, 2023 at 21:03

1 Answer 1

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Google "hidden city ticketing". This is a common practice – at least a common temptation – but one that has disastrous consequences. By missing your first flight, you will forfeit the rest of your ticket. Since you were a no-show for the first flight [and only picking up the boarding passes isn't enough, you have to board the plane], the airline will cancel your ticket. When you show up in Philadelphia, staff will tell you "Sorry, your ticket has been cancelled".

Also, since you have luggage, you would be handing it over at the first airport, and when you fail to show up at the gate, it will be unloaded before the plane leaves. So you'd be in Philadelphia, with a cancelled ticket, and your luggage still back home. Not an ideal situation...

Note: if you had bought 2 separate tickets, you could have done this, at the expense of the first, and last flight: by cancelling the first ticket. Trying to keep that ticket, and checking in at SCE, would have had the same consequences for your luggage – you could have flown to MAD and back, but with no luggage... – and you would still have no return flight from Philadelphia to SCE, the airline having cancelled that ticket anyway.

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    FYI, they don't always unload baggage for a no-show, at least for domestic flights. I once checked my bags in and then got delayed, and my bags made it to New York without me (I got on a flight the next day). Dec 11, 2023 at 20:57
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    Than for your answer! I will take both planes then!
    – prosep
    Dec 12, 2023 at 2:43
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    "Hidden city" refers more to skipping the last leg. If you skip the first leg, then, as you say, they can cancel the last leg. But if you skip the last leg, then they can't really do anything, other than ban you from further flights (theoretically, they could sue you, but I haven't heard of such suits being sucessful). Dec 12, 2023 at 5:14
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    @JoeyMarianer This should not happen. It was how the Air India Kanishka B747 bombing was carried out in 1985 by Canadian terrorists, the largest single aircraft disaster killing 329 people. Post that, bags of non-boarded passengers have to be removed. Dec 12, 2023 at 8:25
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    @RiteshSingh The international rule (ICAO Annex 17 Standard 4.5.3) is that unaccompanied baggage is allowed if the baggage has either been passed through an advanced explosives detection system (typically a CT scanner) or the baggage has been hand searched. The US has required these measures for routine baggage screening, so offloading unaccompanied bags is not necessary.
    – user71659
    Dec 12, 2023 at 22:17

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