18

Often I book a return ticket with a transit, and then ditch only the route from the transit to the destination of the return flight. In other words, I get off at the transit place only in the return flight.

However, I have an experience of being handed a direct ticket in case of an emergency, even though the original ticket included a transit. For example, my original ticket was from Seoul to Tokyo with Shanghai as a transit, but since the flight operated by China Eastern was delayed for some reasons, I was instructed to get on a flight operated by Korean Air to directly go to Tokyo.

At that time, I didn't plan to get off at Shanghai, so it was not a problem. However, now I wonder if it is possible to decline the alternative ticket handed at the check-in counter. I usually book an onward ticket as well as my room in advance before stating that I like to get off at the transit airport; even the airline staff told me that I must state it at the check-in counter since they don't accept it via a phone call or email in advance.

So can I decline the alternative ticket? If not, is it the airline or I that should book another ticket that can get me off at the transit airport?

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    Oh this trick has such a cool name! (talking about the edited tag...) – Blaszard Mar 23 '17 at 13:20
  • @Max +1 that is certainly an answer; add it and I'll upvote. – Giorgio Mar 23 '17 at 13:37
  • Absent any immigration reason (e.g. traveler cannot transit through country X without a visa) or medical reason (outbreak of disease Y)? – smci Mar 23 '17 at 15:14
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    One good reason these days is if you want to carry your laptop and are traveling from Dubai to the US. From what I understand, with a transit in Europe (UK excluded), you can keep your laptop with you. Without, you have to check it. – njzk2 Mar 23 '17 at 16:05
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    A stopover is not a transit. A stopover is (usually) at least 24 hours and is considered your next destination as far as the airline is concerned. It is a contracted "agreed stopping place" and the airline is not free to avoid taking you there. If you mean a transit point or a layover, that is different. – Calchas Mar 24 '17 at 11:52
27

A ticket is a contract with the airline that they will get you from A to B; if they offer to do that (by any reasonable route, without a substantial delay) and you refuse, they likely don't have any further obligations to you. You can either take the alternative flight, or refuse it and make your own way.

If you got a refundable or changeable ticket or the replacement ticket would get you to B significantly later than your original ticket, you might be able to change or cancel it for a refund, depending on the exact terms and applicable laws.

21

In this case, the contract was from A to B to C and the airline offered an alternative of A to C. You can always refuse an offer of an alternative, (ie overbooking etc.) but if the original is no simply no longer available to you and you still refuse the alternative, then the airlines liability is limited to non-provision of the original service.

Common sense when offered an alternative that isn't convenient is to say it isn't convenient and discuss other options. "I have a reason to go to B but I can live with being late. Maybe you can get me a later flight to B and upgrade me from B to C?" The airline will usually try to look after you but don't expect a free round-the-world ticket because a flight was late taking off. It is a negotiation where both sides would like to end up happy, but are only going to try so hard.

Don't demand your rights or insist on special treatment or you will just discourage the person you are negotiating with from trying to help you. Service personnel have been through this before and will be again. They know your rights better then you do and they know how many people they will have to deal with after you. They do want to help you but a surprising number of people don't seem to realize that when you are rude or annoying to service personnel, they stop wanting to help you and start wanting to get rid of you.

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    +1 for an actually-constructive answer. If you're nice about it and don't give the impression that you're trying to game the system (i.e. hidden city ticketing), they'll probably try to accommodate you. – R.. Mar 23 '17 at 17:59
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    They do want to help you but a surprising number of people don't seem to realize that when you are rude or annoying to service personnel, they stop wanting to help you and start wanting to get rid of you. This applies to just about everything in life. No, actually, it does apply to everything in life! – FreeMan Mar 23 '17 at 19:35
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    The contract is usually clear that layovers are not part of the contract of travel. The contract is from A to C and the routing point B is not an obligation of the airline. The IATA verbiage is we will carry you between "stopping places on your ticket" and a "stopping place" is somewhere with a 24 hour stopover. [On the old paper tickets the X/O column was blank or had an "O" for stopping places (with an X for a transit point).] – Calchas Mar 24 '17 at 11:44
  • @Calchas: Not sure how your comment relates to this answer. It sounds more like an attempt at your own answer or a comment on the question. – R.. Mar 24 '17 at 13:43
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    Also note that there are conditions under which change or removal of a point-B might actually prevent the traveler and their belongings from safely arriving at their destination. For instance, at the beginning of the first US 2017 Muslim Ban, arrival at the wrong airport in the US (one where the court orders weren't being enforced) could result in unlawful detention and deportation, and during the subsequent laptop ban, replacement of an indirect flight by a direct one could result in loss of control of one's data and/or theft of the device. – R.. Mar 24 '17 at 13:52

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