I'm a bit in a pickle: we invited a guest from overseas and we need a receipt to reimburse their flights. However, they booked "unrelated" flights with United Airlines in the same booking and the receipt only have a total including both the correct and unrelated flights together, which we can't accept as receipt to issue reimbursement.

The guest should have flown Washington, D.C. to Venice on the 10th of November, but their receipt includes flights from Venice to Washington, D.C. (Venice - Munich - Washington, D.C.) on the 5th of August and then flights from Washington, D.C. to Venice (via Munich again) on the 10th of November for a total of say 3k $.

Is there a way to split this 3k $ receipt into separate receipts so that the Washington, D.C.—Venice flights of the 10th of November can be assigned their separate price? (even better would be a per-leg receipt).

We can't simply say let's reimburse half, because the public administration issuing the reimbursement must have exact receipts and reimbursements must match the value on the receipts, so we are stuck at not being able to reimburse them.

Add to this that the guest is a bit angry for the delay and is not very cooperative, so they are unlikely to spend much time with United customer service to try to fix this.

Booking and flights happened more than 90 days ago. Some flights were operated by Lufthansa.

I already tried United airlines, Lufthansa website and couldn't find anything relevant.

  • 14
    Airline pricing is tricky. Booking multiple legs and return flights affects the total pricing. I don't think you can get an "itemized" receipt you're looking for.
    – littleadv
    Commented May 8 at 7:15
  • 9
    There’s a good chance that this return ticket is actually cheaper than a one-way ticket…
    – jcaron
    Commented May 8 at 12:26
  • 14
    Also, if you invited a guest, is it not normal procedure to refund the flight both ways?
    – jcaron
    Commented May 8 at 13:04
  • @JonathanReez We told them "we are going to reimburse at most X€", they went ahead and spent 2-3 times as much flying business class. We would have bought economy tickets for a roundtrip. This was clearly specified in the first contact we ever had with them, so they knew from the start we would not cover a roundtrip intercontinental business class flight. My problem is that with their receipt we can't even provide any reimbursement for the flight.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented May 11 at 12:26
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    – JonathanReez
    Commented May 11 at 15:09

2 Answers 2


Short answer is, you can't. Most legacy airlines including United have incredibly complicated pricing rules and the cost of flying A-B-C (or, in your case, A-B-A) is very different from buying separate tickets for A-B and B-C.

In a sane company you would reimburse half the ticket price or an estimated equivalent of a one-way flight, but if your administration won't accept this (have you talked to them in person or on the phone?), there's nothing you can do. United will not and cannot issue you receipts for half the flight, because that's not a separately priced unit.

  • 4
    Even sane companies are typically restricted by applicable tax laws telling them what is an eligible business expense and how do you document one. Relevant tax authorities may well take a dim view of all sorts of creative workarounds. If the guest really wants a refund,they will likely have to spend an evening with their favourite PDF editor and create a fake receipt saying whatever is agreed. (That's likely illegal,the only perfectly clean solution is to forget about the refund and call this a life lesson.)
    – TooTea
    Commented May 8 at 12:42
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    @TooTea I doubt the tax authorities would have any problems with reimbursing half the ticket price for half the flights, this sounds purely like an issue with OP's persnickety bean counters. Commented May 8 at 21:41
  • 4
    In the US, my experience is that it's no problem to get companies to issue partial reimbursements. The IRS will presumably accept the receipt for the entire cost as satisfactory for proving the lower cost. The reimbursement is calculated based on what the price of the approved ticket would have been, without the extra legs. Since airline pricing is very obscure, the actual ticket could be twice that, or barely more (or even less, in rare cases, obviously meaning only the actual price would be reimbursed.) Commented May 9 at 5:51
  • 3
    @lambshaanxy Here in Sweden, the tax authorities have problems with all sorts of things that sound like perfectly fine to me. I would absolutely not be surprised if "we paid half the trip" does not work for some authorities.
    – xLeitix
    Commented May 10 at 7:28
  • The perfect answer, except: "In a sane company .." I'm afraid I totally disagree - pls see my answer!
    – Fattie
    Commented May 10 at 15:42

Any company big or small I've ever contracted for, if they told me "Fly X and we will pay", and then, I flew utterly differently (i.e a month or such earlier),

they wouldn't say anything to me, I'd just get one of the automatic emails saying the contract was terminated (and, obviously, they'd never pay for the flights).

If at any time I told someone working for us "Fly X and we will pay", and then, they flew utterly differently (i.e a month or such earlier), I would just ghost them and that's that. (As a small business, I wouldn't have the time to send a polite goodbye email.)

(Note too that - obviously - generally the company involved just buys the ticket for the flyer, and that's that.)

The answer to the question is just "no". You can't "split" airline pricing, any more than when buying a car you could say "the doors cost X, the frame cost Y, etc".

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