For complicated reasons (sigh, business travel), I'm likely to end up being unable to use the return leg of a rather expensive ticket I purchased with my own money. I haven't flown yet, so the ticket is still untouched and open to changes.

I'm well aware that generally in this scenario, the return leg is essentially valueless and the best I can hope for is to get the airport taxes back. However, the flights are on Japan Airlines and their T&C state:


(D) Voluntary Refunds

(1) The term "Voluntary Refund" means any refund of a Ticket other than Involuntary Refund, and the amount of the refund shall be: (a) if no portion of the trip has been made, an amount equal to the fare paid, less any cancellation fees provided in JAL's Regulations; and (b) if a portion of the trip has been made, an amount equal to the difference between the fare paid and the fare applicable to the sector for which the Ticket has been used, less any cancellation fees provided in JAL's Regulations.

...which sounds pretty positive, but is this all meaningless since the ticket is endorsed with the standard NON-REF(undable) boilerplate?

And for reference, the company will pay for another ticket to get me back from B to A (only via a different point C), so I have no grounds to claim anything from them. I have no plans to return to B within the one-year lifetime of the ticket, so pushing the return date into the future won't be of any use (plus JAL has ridiculous prices for its one-way tickets). Finally, I've also investigated the option of rerouting the final leg of my existing ticket to C, but the flight connections just don't work.

  • Took me four read-throughs to figure out what (undable) was... – corsiKa Dec 4 '15 at 16:10

You are essentially asking for your ticket to be repriced from a return journey of A-B-A into a one-way journey covering A-B. This is not a "refund" within the normal meaning of that term as used by travel agents but is classed as a "change". The non-refundable endorsement on the ticket is therefore not important.

It is difficult to say whether you would be entitled to anything back without inspection of the individual fare rules covering your journey. At a guess, however, you would be entitled to receive the difference in fare (between the round trip and oneway fare) less a change fee. For many reasons, I am skeptical that this would be a significant residual.

Often the difference in the cheapest oneway and the round trip fare is small or indeed the oneway fare can be much more expensive than the cheapest round trip fare. Sometimes the fare rules do not allow the "residual" (the difference in fare) to be refunded back to the customer even if a positive residual arises. Sometimes the change rules do not allow a repricing to a less expensive fare even if one exists and could be validly used to cover the sectors.

Since the ticket is unflown, the normal rule is that the ticket needs to be repriced using fares in effect today (and not the historical fares that were in effect at the time the ticket was issued). Therefore if you took advantage of a promotional offer, that offer may have expired now and the ticket price goes up. Moreover, any advance purchase requirements will apply as measured from today rather than the original issue date. (Therefore, subject to booking code availability, it is often beneficial to make changes after the ticket has been partially flown.)

As you indicate that you have no intention to make the existing return journey within one year, I suspect that the most cost-effective solution would be to investigate changing the ticket into an open jaw or a double-open jaw ticket. [That is, A-B//C-D.] Either—

  1. Choose C-D to be a journey you intend to make at some point, or
  2. Choose C-D to be the cheapest possible journey you can find (probably in economy class), so that the wasted flight coupon does not amount to much value and an approximately 50% fare difference accrues back to you.

Open jaws are priced on a half-round-trip basis, and therefore your existing fare component A-B should not be affected by the change [although this will be subject to the Combinations category in the fare rules in question]. As I mentioned above, it may or may not be more cost effective to make this change after the ticket is partially flown, depending on the advance purchase requirements and the specific change rules on the fare in question.

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