As we know, when you need to fly one-way, very often it is cheaper to book a round-trip/open jaw, and throw away the return ticket.

Are there any practical advantages to check in online into this thrown-away return flight? Of course you are not taking it anyway, so I'm asking about other advantages?

One possible advantage is that you might get miles for the trip; my experience on this, however, been mixed.

I've also been reading this answer, and it appears there's another possible reason. The way I read the answer, if your flight was booked through Expedia or agent, and you do not check in for return, Expedia keeps the money. If you check in, then the airline gets the money (even if you don't fly). And I still like airlines more than Expedia (and this might explan why sometime you get miles).

So, are there any other practical advantages (or disadvantages) to check in online into the thrown-away return flight?

  • 3
    If the flight is cancelled, you might be eligible for compensation or rebooking at a time when you might actually want to use the return half of the flight
    – Gagravarr
    Dec 25, 2016 at 23:56
  • You are reading that answer wrong: the airline gets paid for the entire trip when you first check in.
    – user4188
    Dec 26, 2016 at 6:01
  • Isn't this kind of ticket booking generally against airline's terms? (even without checking in)
    – user541686
    Dec 26, 2016 at 6:53
  • 1
    @chx Turns out, answers on StackExchange aren't always right...
    – Doc
    Dec 26, 2016 at 8:08
  • 2
    Then that answer needs fixing.
    – user4188
    Dec 26, 2016 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


The "best for (almost) everybody" approach to this is to NOT check-in for the flight you don't intend to take. This allows the airline to know that you do not intend to fly, and allows them to re-allocate your seat (if needed) sooner - for example, by clearing someone on the standby list. It also means that they won't waste any time waiting for you to turn up at the gate, paging you, etc. If you have checked in they will still be able to re-allocate your seat, but they will normally have to wait until closer to the departure time to do so, when things are already generally fairly hectic!

However there is one potential situation where checking-in might work to your advantage. If the flight you were due to be on is excessively delayed, or if it is canceled, and that delay/cancellation occurs very close to the flight time, then you may stand a better chance of obtaining compensation and/or your money back for the flight if you are checked in.

In some cases even if there is a delay/cancellation you will not be able to do anything simply because you are not at the airport, however many airlines now will allow you to arrange for compensation/refunds over the phone, and sometimes even at a later time. Depending on the exact situation you may be able to do this even if you have not checked in, but depending on the exact situation being checked in will give you slightly more leverage.

There is a second situation where check-in can be beneficial, but it is very much a corner case. If you are going to be at the airport anyway (eg, you are connecting, and the throw-away flight is the connection), AND if the flight you are not planning to fly is oversold, then you may be able to volunteer to be "denied boarding" - ie, give up your seat on that flight and be moved to a later flight, and in doing so receive some form of compensation. The catch with this is that you will need to wait at the gate right up until departure time before they will know that they need your seat so you will need to invest some time, plus if it turns out that they do not need your seat it's going to be rather odd for you to turn around and say you didn't want to fly anyway and not board the plane...

The odds of either of these occurring, and of you being able to benefit from them, is low - but it's not zero. You will need to balance that with the additional inconvenience you will cause the airline staff and potentially other passengers on the flight by checking in.

As for your comment about the airline not being paid until you check in, this is absolutely not true. The airline gets their money regardless of whether you check in or not - in fact most of the time (even when booking via a travel agency) it's the airline themselves that actually charges your credit card, so they have the money from the moment the trip is ticketed.

  • If you have luggage, turning around and leaving isn't just "rather odd", it's extra pain for everyone while they remove your luggage too.
    – user541686
    Dec 26, 2016 at 6:58
  • @Mehrdad That's a generic issue of throw-away ticketing, and not relevant for this specific question/answer. (And for US domestic flights, they don't remove your luggage anyway)
    – Doc
    Dec 26, 2016 at 7:07
  • It feels fraudulent to claim compensation for a delay to a flight when you weren't even at the airport to catch it. Are you even entitled to compensation in that case? If not, then claiming the compensation is literally fraudulent. Even if you are entitled to compensation, that sounds like exactly the sort of situation in which the airline would be very liable to enforce its terms and conditions about throwaway ticketing, if it found out what you did. Dec 26, 2016 at 22:30
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    @DavidRicherby: you're indeed entitled to claim compensation for cancellation (in EU) without being present at the airport if a flight was canceled and there's less than 14 days before departure. For involuntary boarding denial and delay compensation you have to be present at gate.
    – George Y.
    Dec 27, 2016 at 1:55
  • This is a good answer, but I'd like to clarify the checkin part (i.e. when the airline gets paid) as it contradicts an existing upvoted answer and it is important.
    – George Y.
    Dec 27, 2016 at 2:16

No, there are no advantages to the traveler.

If you fully intend to skip that segment, please, do not check in.

All you will be doing is creating more work for the Gate Staff, especially if the flight is full or near full.

Also, if you fully intend to miss the flight, don't pre-select a seat or, pick a really bad one, middle last row.

You will not accrue miles or points and the airline does not receive the revenue when you check in.

The value of the ticket is still yours for perhaps up to 1 year.

  • 2
    John, thanks for your answer, but I'm asking about practical advantages/disadvantages for a traveler. Also if the agent part is correct, and the airline only gets paid when I check in, it looks like an advantage for the airline. And middle-last is my favorite seat on a flight which I know won't be full, as it practically guarantees you an empty row.
    – George Y.
    Dec 26, 2016 at 4:25
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    While not really substantial, I think this answer is just good enough not to rate deletion as low quality. Downvoting is the better option if you disagree, which I do not do.
    – Willeke
    Dec 26, 2016 at 8:49
  • The answer if perfectly valid for the circumstances because the traveler must be aware of the consequences of this decision. It is not worthy of a downvote but for the regular people who work for the airlines, I'll take it, I don' care.
    – DTRT
    Dec 26, 2016 at 12:35
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    The value of the ticket is NOT yours for 1 years. Almost all tickets will have zero value after the flight departs unless you cancel the flight, and that is generally not possible on throw-away tickets as it will cause a reprice which defeats the entire purpose
    – Doc
    Dec 26, 2016 at 16:53
  • 1
    @Willeke I agree. This is a comment, not an answer. Though comment is perhaps a bit generous, perhaps "rant" is more appropriate
    – Berwyn
    Dec 26, 2016 at 17:28

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