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We booked flights from Phnom Penh to Berlin via Bangkok and Frankfurt with Thai Airways. We booked to Berlin because of an event that has been canceled in the mean time. We called the airline to cancel the last leg of the flight. We didn't want to get reimbursed or anything, just getting off in Frankfurt to get on a train home. However they said there is a cancellation fee of upwards of 400€, which I find ridiculous.

Can we know ahead of time if we are able to get our luggage in Frankfurt and no-show for the last flight to Berlin? If not, what is the best strategy to increase chances we get our luggage? Can we ask during check-in in Phnom Penh to only check the luggage through to Frankfurt?

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  • How long is it between the flight arriving in Frankfurt and the flight to Berlin? If it is a long connection, it is plausible for you to ask to check the baggage only to Berlin so you have access to it. If it is a short connection they will possibly refuse.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Mar 25 at 11:18
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    Note that EU customs check for baggage is at the airport of destination. If it is listed in Phnom Penh as Berlin, then it cannot be simply extracted in Frankfurt. Whatever Thai Airways says, make sure the baggage labels say Frankfurt. Commented Mar 25 at 11:26
  • Similar Question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/4440/… Commented Mar 25 at 11:36
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    Note that if you no-show for the FRA-BER, there is a risk of a return leg (if existing) being cancelled.
    – CMaster
    Commented Mar 25 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

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We don't have all the details of your itinerary (the airlines/flights/times), but what is most likely in your situation is that your luggage will be checked-through to the final destination, and you will not see it in Frankfurt.

Contrary to what happens in some cases (like when you transit international-to-domestic in certain countries, or even international-to-international in the US), you don't see your bags at the port of entry into the EU. You will go through passport control there, but your bags are transferred through, and will go through customs in BER (customs officers can recognise bags which come from outside the EU because they don't have green borders on the tags).

What you want to do is "short-checking" of your luggage, so you can retrieve it before in Frankfurt instead of Berlin. If you have a flexible ticket this is usually not an issue, but for the less flexible (cheaper) tickets this is often not possible.

The reason why they won't allow it is because flights with many layovers are often sold at a discount compared to direct flights (or flights with fewer connections) on the same origin/destination or to individual legs of that route. So people try to do what is called "hidden city ticketing", buying a cheap A-B-C flight and then only using A-B, which is more expensive.

To them, that's what you are trying to do, and that's probably part of the reason for the cost: your ticket was repriced for the new (shorter but more expensive) itinerary, plus possibly change fees, plus possibly the fact that the prices on the itinerary went up as the flights filled up.

It so happens that in your case there are no flights from PNH to BER with less than 2 stops, very few shorter flights overall, and PNH-BKK-FRA is actually cheaper than PNH-BKK-FRA-BER (at least on the date I checked) but they don't necessarily apply rules on a case-by-case basis (way too many variables), and just apply a blanket policy.

I'm surprised that with the shorter itinerary being so much cheaper than the full one (at least on the date I randomly picked) you end up with such a large charge for the change, though.

You can always ask at check-in to have your bags short-checked to FRA, but the chances are low that it will happen, and you will only know at that time.

If you have a long layover in FRA (seems unlikely to me, there's nearly a flight per hour on that route) you may be able to ask to retrieve your bags there (supposedly to recheck them later), but since that would mean going through passport control, baggage claim, check-in and security (on the arrivals/departures path, not the connecting path) they would only do it (if at all) if there was ample time.

And not showing up for a flight would also lead to all further segments on the same ticket (including return flights, if any) to be cancelled.

I'm afraid the only options I can see you could rely on are:

  • Not checking in any bags (carry-on only) and getting off in FRA (any further flights cancelled)
  • Try to rebook on a different itinerary. The cost may be different the day before or after for instance, or on another route on the same alliance. Do NOT mention cancelling anything, just that you have a change in plans and want to rebook to a different destination. Look up prices for that itinerary before you call them to know the options and the relative prices (or see if you can make any changes online directly). Note that if this is a return flight, comparing current prices for the whole trip or just the return flights with the actual prices that would apply to your trip can be a complex exercise, but it will at least give you an idea of the relative cost of different options. You may need to read the detailed fare rules of your flight.
  • If you are very lucky, you could change your flight to include a stopover (a long layover over 24 hours) in FRA, in which case you would indeed retrieve your bags. But not all fares allow it, and not necessarily at any connection airport (policies vary widely between airlines and fares).
  • Keep to the original plan and travel back to FRA afterwards. You can try to ask for the luggage to be short-checked to FRA when you check-in, but you'll only know at that point. Again, any further flights would be cancelled if you pull that off.

Anything else is at the whim of the check-in agent and you won't know until the sticker is added to your bag.

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Hopefully this flight is your return flight, and you don't have to fly back to PNH on that ticket: getting off in FRA will cancel the rest of your ticket, however many segments are left on it...

TG is quite inflexible, as you have discovered – and Thai employees in general can be sticklers to the rules. I was once in a slightly different situation – 2 tickets for one single flight BKK-ICN via HKG, long story – and the employees I talked to were not only inflexible (they wanted me to get off in HK, run, pick up the luggage, check it in again, and board the same flight), the more I argued my point (very politely, in a low voice, with a smile) the colder they were getting. In the end things worked out, but not entirely well, and I almost didn't make it to Seoul...

If you want to argue your point, be prepared to go early to the airport, and never mention you being a no-show. What you're attempting is hidden-city ticketing, and airlines hate that... Instead, make up a believable story about you needing warmer clothes from the checked-in luggage, so cold in Germany you know, yada yada. But if the layover is short, forget about it, they probably won't budge.

However, I suppose the flight FRA-BER is not with TG, so if you are lucky enough, you might have to pick up your luggage if the airlines don't interline. But I suppose the last leg is with LH, so they interline...

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