I booked and paid for a round trip non-stop ticket from Brussels to NY and back for my daughter's wedding. Since then, I found out that I actually have to get there earlier than originally planned.

I figured that's not such a big problem, I'll get a one way to the states and come back on my original ticket. Only I was just informed that if I don't take the first flight, they'll cancel my return.

So I looked into a way around this. They can cancel my first flight for me, for an additional charge, and leave my return flight as is.
The cost of the round trip ticket was $513 USD. To make the change of cancelling the first leg, they will charge me an additional $2,406.60 USD.
This is absolutely absurd, abusive and dishonest. They already have my money. If I don't occupy that seat, there is no additional cost to them. Anyone know of a good way around this?

  • 1
    And what about change the date of the first leg?
    – Ivan
    Jun 6, 2015 at 15:13
  • 3
    It might be cheaper to cancel the whole trip then book again with the new dates, are your tickets cancellable ?
    – blackbird
    Jun 6, 2015 at 15:20
  • It sounds like you are trying to turn a return ticket into a oneway ticket. This is usually a mistake. Can you not change the date of the first leg?
    – Calchas
    Jun 6, 2015 at 16:27
  • I had a similar situation few years back. I missed the first leg of the flight (Turkish Air.) and flew few days later with another company from another city. When i reached the destination i went to the TA office at the airport and they manually 'put back' my return ticket, which i noticed before was removed from their system due to no show on the first flight They charged me no additional cost or anything.
    – Nemirni
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:09
  • Not a solution for you, but as an amusing recent example of the extreme lengths people will go to to avoid this sort of thing: theguardian.com/money/2015/jun/05/…
    – timday
    Jun 7, 2015 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


There is (generally speaking) no way around this. In your situation you have four options:

  1. Cancel the original ticket and book a new one. This may be useless if the original fare doesn't allow refunds. However it would free up a seat for some other traveler who might need a last-minute ticket.

  2. Book a new one-way ticket and alter the original reservation. You've already found out this is prohibitively expensive, since one-way fares can often be more expensive than round-trip fares. The reasons for this are discussed here.

  3. Alter the date of the original Brussels->NY flight so that you can get there earlier.

  4. Ignore the original reservation and get a brand new return ticket.

The airlines are following a certain contract to which you've agreed when booking the ticket. It may or may not be absurd, but that's just how modern airlines operate.

  • 1
    1 would be preferable to 4. Even if the ticket is in principle non-refundable, you may get lucky. Happened to me once with Lufthansa: a few days after cancelling a "non-refundable" ticket, I unexpectedly received a full refund, down to the last cent. It also seems like common courtesy to let the airline know in advance that you won't make it.
    – fkraiem
    Jun 7, 2015 at 2:14

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