I've a friend that booked a round-trip journey. He booked A-to-B and B-to-A.
Somehow he needed to be earlier at location B, so he took a train and did not take the flight from A to B.

When he went to the airport to take the "back home" flight (B-to-A), he was informed that his ticket was canceled because he did not take the A-to-B flight. They canceled the ticket and sold it to someone else.

Is this normal? The company said it was their right to do so, and he could not get the flight back.
The company was Iberia.

  • 3
    Maybe this question can answer your question partially.
    – drat
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 8:39
  • Did you check-in for either or both of the legs?
    – Mikey
    Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 23:56
  • I can't remember, it was quite some time ago and it didn't happen to me but to a friend.
    – user13817
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 10:49
  • That is neither uncommon, nor in any way reasonable. Which matters more to you? Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 20:35

3 Answers 3


Yes. It is usually required that you fly all legs of a single ticket. Even if you skip the last leg, the airline might penalise you later. At the very least, you should contact the airline before the flight and tell them that for unforeseen reasons you need to skip one leg; in this case, they might not cancel the remainder.

Of course, in every particular case it depends on the fine print of your ticket. As Burhan Khalid points out, this probably just refers you to the policy of the carrier, for example:

The General Terms and Conditions of Carriage of [airline] apply. They are to be found on [airline's website] and can be provided at all [airline] ticket counters.

In the case of Iberia, I cannot find the relevant section in their Conditions of Carriage, so your friend might actually have a case against them (but more likely I am missing something).

As an example, another airline has

In as much a Ticket was booked that requires the observance of a predetermined chronological order of the use of the individual Flight Coupons, and the Passenger deviates from this chronological order, the Airline will charge the price that would have applied at the time of booking the actual route taken.

In other words, if you don't fly the route on your ticket, the airline can charge you for the route you did actually fly.

  • 3
    When you say: "Even if you skip the last leg, the airline might penalise you later" are you saying that if I don't take the return flight I can be penalised? How?
    – Ivan
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 16:38
  • 4
    I have heard rumours of airlines refusing to sell people tickets after they did this many times.
    – Max
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 16:41
  • 3
    @Max, why in the world they could do that?
    – user626528
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 17:00
  • 4
    @Max: They are not losing, maybe even saving some money if they are paid for two flights (even if those are discount prices due to the round trip), but only one gets used. So, again, why in the world would they do that? Of course, assuming the first leg is simply not taken by the customer, rather than cancelled with a refund. Commented May 20, 2014 at 18:18
  • 4
    @O.R.Mapper they are losing money compared to you buying the more expensive one-way ticket (if the one-way ticket is cheaper, they probably won't do that; I'm only saying it's possible, not that it always happens)
    – Max
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 22:25

This is normal. Most airlines, if you tell them about your change in itinerary, will tell you that they won't cancel your remaining flights and it's all taken care of. However, I have always had the remainder of my flights cancelled no matter what they say, so keep that in mind.


Most important is that you contact the airline. If A-B wasn't taken, there should be a way to confirm why and that you'll take B-A anyway. Some airlines are strict and try to charge more for everything while others are easy and nice. Check the fine print when you buy the ticket.

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