I was just trying to make a booking and accidentally provided a return date earlier than the departing date. I found that the departing date had reset to null. I tried it on Lufthansa. Later when I tried it on Emirates and Air New Zealand they also behaved similarly. However, now I am wondering is it not possible to book airline tickets with return date earlier than the departing date. Assume that I am leaving Auckland at around 1AM and the return from Honolulu is around 19:00 the previous evening. How do I get that booking done as a single ticket? Or are there special flights which operate across the International Date Line and it is possible to make these types of booking only on those airlines?


Ok, I did a search on United website and found out these combinations:

Tokyo (HND) to SFO Departure: 00:30 (Aug 3rd) Arrival: 18:00 (Aug 2nd)
SFO to HND Departure: 19:50 (Aug 2nd) Arrival: 22:35 (Aug 3rd)

All departure and arrival times are local times. But it did not allow me to book as a single ticket.

This scenario might not be realistic. But if i am traveller using the web interface for booking a multi-city trip, say from Tokyo to San Francisco and then on the same day to Orlando or something of that sort. Then the system would fail right?

  • Have you tried this for a combination of flights that will actually work? I would not expect it to take much "special" handling. Most computer programs and databases, especially for international operations, calculate and store dates and times in UTC and only convert to/from local times in the user interfaces. Jul 25, 2016 at 21:24
  • I am somewhat confused. You are trying to go AKL > HNL departing at 1am *ST and returning HNL > AKL at 7pm *ST (apparently the evening before). You need to find the time format for what you are looking for. Looking on Kayak.com for example, all departure and arrival times are local. AKL (Sat 6 Aug; 2055) > HNL (Sat 6 Aug; 0730) [8hrs 35min flight time], HNL (Sat 6 Aug; 1000) > AKL (Sun 7 Aug; 1655) [8hrs 55min flight time]. This way you are technically leaving the morning before you left however the times are local and not centered on one place. Jul 26, 2016 at 1:01
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    United may not have allowed you to book it as a single ticket because the arrival time and departure time didn't meet international to international connection minimums.
    – user13044
    Jul 26, 2016 at 7:54
  • @Tom +1. The US famously does not recognise "transit", you'd need to go through immigration even if you're getting back on the same plane. Jul 26, 2016 at 10:32
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    @jpatokal - I imagine immigration processing will be longer in Müller's scenario, as I am sure the officer will wonder wtf ... flying 12 hours from Tokyo only to turn around and fly back less than two hours later ... better send this guy to the back room for more question ;-)
    – user13044
    Jul 27, 2016 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


It's unlikely there any 'special' flights.

If you're trying to book these on a web site, what you're hitting is just basic data validation in the form itself. The web app checks that 'return date' is equal or later then 'departure date' and doesn't take into account the very small number of flights or travelers that would fly AKL-HNL-AKL in the same day.

If you call the airline directly, they can book this no problem.

  • Yeah that might work, but if I am changing airlines then I might have to make a call to multiple airline carriers which is really not efficient. My question is for a search for explanation of this? Is this intentional? I am sure there should be a lot of travellers crossing the Date Line frequently and their requirements at least at some point of time might match what I have mentioned.
    – DarthVader
    Jul 26, 2016 at 5:53
  • I gave you the explanation. Don't over think it. Most sites are not going to book enough ALK/TYO-HNL same day returns to be worth the extra effort to accommodate this situation. Hawaiian is the only carrier where this wold even be debated. There is nothing special about the actual flights, just the date validation in the web app. That's all.
    – DTRT
    Jul 26, 2016 at 11:35

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