I had a flight with British Airways and cancelled the return flight after taking the outbound leg. They refuse to refund a large sum of the money (including the ticket, or seat, price itself). It would be to my advantage to know whether my ticket has been resold by the company or not.

I am aware that it might not be possible to know if it is the exact same ticket, yet if i could see if the plane was full for instance (or just the economy part) I could know it resold for sure.

I found an international round trip flight by an internet agent for an sum of 990 US$. I wanted the possiblity of canceling or changing my flight date; I called and asked about it. The guy said once I'm a "partial traveler" (meaning after taking the first flight but yet to take the second) I am not entitled to a refund of any sum.

I went to the official British Airways website and read their terms. I added some money to make the ticket refundable (200US$). And prior to purchasing I called the customer service asking if being a "partial traveler" will prevent me from getting my refund back. I was assured that I will be entitled.

When the time came I decided to cancel my flight back and to my "great surprise" i was eligable of getting just a small amount. At the moment I'm in long talks with the company and being assured I should get at least 170US$ more. The customer service keeps sending me messages how sorry they are and how errors been made with me being delayed with getting the money promised (which is just a fraction of what should be refunded).

What can I do? Can I prove they re-sold the ticket?

Here is a part of an email I sent to the customer service with the exact price of everything as they supplied me:

I checked the detailed fares of my ticket and this is what I came up with:

  • Flight from Israel to Mexico DF (including 2 different flights with a 3 hour wait in Heathrow airport) - BA0162 + BA0243 = 383$

  • Flight from Mexico DF to Israel (including 2 different flights which one changed BA0167 to BA0163, meaning I have to wait at Heathrow airport 8 hours instead of 2) - BA0242 + BA0163 = 278$

  • Exit fee and country surcharges apply at the total cost of 190.37$ With 44.42$ Mexico departure fee

  • So called "Carrier imposed charge" which refer to fuel at least with some of the amount is 231.30$

  • And last a 30$ fee for booking through the site.

Total value of the ticket 1112.67$

  • 1
    Did you check a one way ticket was cheaper than the ticket you had? Often you pay more for a one way ticket and the airline would be in their right to claim money from you.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 18:26
  • 48
    The terms of the airline's conditions of carriage set refund policies. I have never see any of those policies change whether or not the flight in question was completely full or not. While it may seem to matter to you morally whether or not they were able to resell your seat, the terms governing your fare do not care. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 18:31
  • 1
    To all your questions: blackbird - yes exactly. I am already in 2 months talking with them and they keep avoiding. Willeke - yes, a one way costs more than a round trip. Yet it has been asurred in a phone call prior to the purchase that i will be able to cancel and get a refund (never mentioned how much). Brhans - i was aware, but i was still young enough to believe they would give a fair refund since no detailed caculation is mentioned of what will be refunded. Zach - I am aware of the fact, and on conventional ways you probably right. But at the moment im starting to gather info for court
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:07
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    @user47526 Can you explain what happened exactly? It's completely irrelevant what the airline did with "your" seat, there is no such thing. Was this a voluntary refund, in that you flew the outbound part of the ticket and then decided to cancel the return, or did BA cancel something?
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:12
  • 2
    As I understand things, with most airlines you're purchasing a service: transportation by airplane to your destination. How many airplanes the airline needs in order to supply this service to everyone to whom they sell it is their business. When you cancel your purchase of the service, that simply means that the seat they were going to provide you with in order to fulfill their end of the bargain can now go to someone else.
    – Cronax
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 13:46

7 Answers 7


Well, it just doesn't work like that.

No, they will not re-sell your ticket because even though you cancelled part of your itinerary, your ticket likely still has value. They are two different things and your ticket is still yours.

The value remaining on your ticket is the total of the ticket prices of the cancelled segments.

If you purchased a non-refundable fare, which is different from the ticket by the way, then they will not refund any of that to you but you can still apply the remaining fare, minus a fee, to any future flights purchased through BA.

Whether any flight goes out full or not is totally irrelevant to the value remaining on your ticket. Also, your seat assignment has nothing to do with your ticket either.

  • I realize all that you say. But that is in a crooked world (in which we live BTW). I had an option to buy exact same round trip ticket from an agent coat 200$ less but the agent were doggy and refused to tell me how a refund will work or if even. I bought straight from the company talking to customer service on the phone being absolutly assured a refund will be apllied. It is important to know if my "seat" (not the one i chose but my place on the plane) if i want to apply charges in court for not refund my flight fare on a refundable ticket even though they resold and made doble the money.
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:13
  • 1
    "you can still apply the remaining fare, minus a fee, to any future flights purchased through BA". Normally you cannot do this. It does apply to some US originated tickets though.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:14
  • 25
    You don't have a "place on the plane" in that sense. Whether or not you get a refund has nothing to do with whether some other random strangers you've never met turn up for their flight or not (and they may well have missed the flight because of a missed connection, but the airline is still obligated to carry them on a later flight). I don't know whether you "deserve" a refund or not, as we have no idea what the terms were on the fare your purchased, but "the flight was full" isn't going to help you get one. Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:23
  • 2
    Just to completely clear, you should be able to get certain taxes and fees refunded if they are specific to your original itinerary. This money is completely separate from your fare.
    – DTRT
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:29
  • 1
    Because that's just how it works. Same thing in a movie theater. If you miss the show, 99%, they'll exchange the ticket you have for a later showing because the ticket has a value and the time on it is just a reservation for that seating.
    – DTRT
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 13:00


You booked a TLV-MEX fare on BA on the understanding it was refundable. The standard refundable or partially refundable economy booking classes on BA are Y, B and H, the cheapest of those, being H.

A sample TLV H fare on matrix is fully refundable:


This half-round trip fare is $830, plus YQ and fees.

The next most-expensive booking class normally in the non-refundable category is K which carries (in this particular sample case) the following conditions:

CHARGE USD 100.00.

However, after departure:


This half-round trip fare is $698, plus YQ and fees.

Without knowledge of the fare basis you booked, it's not possible to determine the exact fare rules you are subject to. However, I suspect that you might have booked a refundable fare, providing you cancelled before departure. After departure, this fare became non-refundable apart from government taxes and airport fees.

If you are certain BA told you this was completely refundable at any time, you may be able to ask them to retrieve the recording of the phone call and determine whether this was the case or not. If this is possible, BA may offer you a refund based on the guarantees given by the BA phone agent.

As a point of comparison, raising the cheapest non-refundable fare (S) to a refundable (H) fare took the return price from US$965 to $2070.

  • Dear berwhn you are right. When i asked a refund they said im a part traveler and only some taxes should be given back. However when i mentioned my phone call betore the purchase it dd not impress them and said the terms were written.
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    @user47526 Ok, this all makes sense now. Actually even some of the cheapest fares are refundable for a $100 fee. However they're only refundable if cancelled before any part of the journey has started. I suspect this was a misunderstanding between you and the BA agents
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 21:10
  • 9
    @user47526 What you could probably have done is changed the return flight to some point in the future for a fee and used it with a future trip. However, if you didn't ask for this before the return flight, you would have become a no-show and the ticket would have been cancelled. You could try and ask them to reinstate the ticket in order to change it due to the misunderstanding
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 21:15
  • He's not actually asking for a refund, he's asking for a ticket change [to a oneway fare]. The "CANCELLATIONS" provision is not important.
    – Calchas
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 10:37
  • 1
    @Calchas Good point. He's asking for a reprice rather than cancellation which is even worse.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 10:53

Disclaimer: this is from my personal experience as someone that used to work for fare calculations at a decently big airline (star alliance member)

The refund amount for a partially used ticket is calculated by your ticket price - oneway price of the segment you used - any refund penalties.

You mentioned multiple times in comments you have done the math and it is different than the airline's refund quote. I have heard plenty of travellers thinking that oneway price used in calculation is just (round trip)/2, hope you are not one of them.

Also I dont think anyone mentioned this: when refunding round trip ticket, the one way fare is calculated using the same fare class or higher.

Example: passenger bought an H class roundtrip to be eligible for refund for $2000, he saw than one way is $1000, but what he didn't know is that one way is a K class while the H class one way is $1500. And he argued with me that the refund should be $2000 - $1000 - $200(penalty) while the correct calculation is $2000 - $1500 - $200.

Again this is all from my previous job at the star alliance airline, the calculation method and such could be completely different at BA.

  • 1
    This is correct across all (non LCC) airlines
    – Calchas
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 10:58

How did you calculate the refund due? Did they tell you a specific amount or have you done your own calculations?

If you did the math, did you take into consideration that cancelling the return portion of a round trip ticket will cause the original flight to be re-priced as a one way ticket, which is often higher than half a round trip. This would cause the amount refunded to decrease considerably.

Did you include costs for change fees when doing the math? Did you upgrade to a fully refundable fare or a limit refund fare.

There are so many factors that go into ticket pricing, that it is hard to blame any one item without all the fare specifics and penalties.

  • They did the math, and so have i. Obviously 2 different sums. Way apart. I did not take that into consideration, yet it seems impossible for them to do such a thing since it is a refundable and so some of the amount needs to be back - the part that havent been used. I did include cancel fee. The refundable ticket did not mentioned any "full" nor "limited" charecteristic.
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 19:52
  • 1
    @user47526 do you know the fare code? or the class code? can you show the ticket (of course after hiding your personal information)? Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 20:15
  • I have the reference code, cant show the ticket since im with my phone only. A long conversation of 12 emails each side have already been made and alot has been reviled (in addition to 2 phone calls). In the end the refund me ~78US$ and promised a larger sum. I am also able to show detailed prices
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 20:24
  • @user47526: can you show us your math (in the question)? I'd be surprised if you get back $170 in total, and you expect that amount more than what they offer, so I'm wondering about your math. Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 7:09
  • 6
    @user47526 From others comments, I suspect the refund is not based on "the part that havent been used" but on the original price paid less "the part that was used". In your case, the cost of a round-trip (that you booked) less the cost of the one-way trip (that you actually made). If they didn't work like this, everyone wanting to travel one way would book a round trip and cancel the return half for a substantial saving.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 8:15

Out of curiosity I went onto British Airways to see the difference in round trip vs one way trips.

Round trip prices was around $1000 total. ($500 outbound and $500 inbound).

Looking at one way trips the only option they gave was a "World Traveller" operated by BA which had a ticket price of $3,000.

This date was just chosen at random (but was the same outbound date for both) but it shows what a discrepancy between round trip and one way prices. If you cancel halfway through you end up paying the one way price (or just get no refund if the one way price is higher then round trip I would assume).

Imagine you bought some 2 shirts on sale for buy one get one free. You decide you don't like one of the shirts so bring one back. You would get no refund on the shirt because then you would have to pay the full price for the shirt you kept even though you returned half your purchase.

Round Trip

enter image description here

One Way

enter image description here

  • Still dont think it is the same because evidentlly they priced everything: fare TLV-MEX, taxes, fuel, fare MEX-TEL. Now whatever discount they pretend to give a customer for taking a return as well has absolutly nothing to do with the fact that prices has been set (obviously without losing money) and nothing of such thing is informed to the customer. A refundable means you get your money back, according to what you say i might be owe 200$ to the airline since one way is higher price. Absord. If they can play with words and misguide people why cant i do the same by getting my fair share back?
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 3:30

Ticket pricing is extraordinarily complex. First of all, all airlines sell tickets via various travel service companies, and possibly via the online aggregators (booking.com and whatnot), and direct. All of these channels have different prices because they cost the airline different amounts to actually fill the seat. Which method you used to buy the ticket in the first place affects price, flexibility and refund potential.

Secondly, ticket prices vary by time of flight, departure/arrival location, and the point in time you buy it - in general, the more in advance you buy it, the cheaper it is. However, that's not always true - in some cases airlines will sell tickets cheaply shortly before a flight leaves in order to fill seats (and maybe make money, maybe contribute to costs). That's not always true, I guess because they figure you'll either pay more to go right now, or pay more on the next (not discounted) flight.

There are a bajillion other variables too. Some destinations are major tourist locations, so airlines run 'Saturday change-over' flights, but few other flights in the week. Such patterns are to cater for weekly/fortnightly holidays and such like. As a made-up example, flying to the holiday island of Blowyernose is very popular, but apart from a handful of locals, most of the people on the island are either tourists or workers. Most workers live on the mainland and come in by boat. As such, the demand for seats leaving Blowyernose is almost exactly the same as the volume of seats arriving there.

Let's say you fly to Blowyernose, but decide to cancel your return (and instead take a boat to the mainland and fly home from the mainland). In this case, the airline is unlikely to be able to re-fill your seat at any reasonable price (because all potential customers already have return tickets). As such, they can either sell the seat at a loss, or fly with it empty. You'll be expected to pay them for their loss here. You'll find that flexibility (especially on the return leg) is likely to be relatively expensive on these sorts of routes because of the illiquid nature of the passengers it carries.

Conversely, flying between two major hub airports is a bit like a bus service. So many people do it that it's easy to resell your seat (seats are a very liquid product here). In such cases, the airline can resell your seat to someone else and still charge you for it (they make money here, so will sometimes be more willing to share it by making flexible tickets relatively cheaper on these routes).

There's another complication here though... 'resell' can mean different things. It may be that another person on a fully flexible ticket turned up at the airport early and asked to fly sooner than they expected. They can sit in your seat, but that leaves on empty on the later flight. In some sense then, the price you paid for 'your' seat actually is apportioned to the later flight. Things get really complicated when you start to think about the flexible fare might have been based on a cheaper (or more expensive) flight than the one you were booked on, and exactly what does your ticket price subsidise?

In short, tickets get sold with rules. Those rules are pretty clear about what happens in certain circumstances, and these days, that usually means customers have to pay an 'admin fee', or forfeit the cost of the ticket, or something else that means your wallet is somewhat lighter than you think it should be. It happens to us all at some point, but one way to think about it is to consider the various alternatives and their cost (to you). Could you have bought a more flexible ticket (presumably more expensively) and got back some fraction of its cost and been better off? It's difficult to get exact numbers because of the transient nature of ticket prices, but it seems unlikely to me.

  • 1
    Welcome to travel.stackexchange! Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 16:25

Can I tell if the airline sold “my” seat after I cancelled the return leg after partially traveling?

No, and I won't go into details since that is not your "real" question. You are looking for facts to go to court. The question who sat on your seat does not factor into this on any level at all.

Regarding this angle: forget about it. You have nothing except your memory of a phone call. Even if you had a recording of that call, no court will admit such a recording as evidence. You did not even get a quote on how much your refund will be.

The good thing: you spent all that money on experience. Now you know to get everything in written form up front, and if that is not possible, then do not expect it to work at all. The same goes for insurances and similar businesses.

This is not meant as a snide remark, sometimes it just does not work out.

  • You could probably expand on the "no", none of the other details you added actually answer the OP's question
    – blackbird
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 13:22
  • You are right, i do not care for identity just fact. The recorsing ia in their hands from customer service call. Good thing it is not. And while we are talking about that insurance company as well as banks and credit cards doing their own tricks screwing customers. The fact that it is legal does not make it right and none of us should let it keep happen. Now in some countries a woman is not equal neither does her will to merry or have relations with a man matter. Does it make it ok? Is enslaving ok if there is no rule against it?
    – user47526
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 3:36
  • 1
    I understand you. It feels arbitrary and "tricky". Your question should not be "can I tell whether they resold my seat" but "what can I do to avoid such a situation in the future" (answer: insist on 100% clear communication of rules beforehand), or "what can I do so I feel not so bad about it" (answer: try to see it from their side; assume they're "good" and just doing their job). The way you're going at it is quite unwholesome for yourself, you will just run into roadblock after roadblock and get more miseberable in the process.
    – AnoE
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 9:54
  • Comments should be used to clarify the answer/question, not to discuss or raise hypotheticals. Please keep it that way.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 23:42

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