Son misses one leg of trip; AA cancels return

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Oct 8, 2019
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#1
My son recently flew from London to Phoenix and planned to connect in PHX to Salt Lake City for a short trip then back to PHX. His return on AA/British Airways to London was 2 weeks later. Due to unexpected circumstances here in Tucson where we live, he was not able to take the short trip to Salt Lake City and did not board the PHX to SLC connection. When he went to check in for his return flight from PHX to London, he discovered that AA had canceled his trip. They did not notify him. They would not reinstate his flight unless he paid a $150 change fee and paid the difference in fares (which was over $600) even though the flight had many available seats and he had purchased a ticket. The customer service person stated that this is the AA policy. This seems outrageous. We (his parents) are out $860.40. Do we have any recourse. This seems like unfettered greed.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Every airline does this. It’s in your contract of carriage. Flights must be taken in the order booked. If you miss one leg,the rest of the ticket is voided.

From their Contract of Carriage:


Travel itinerary policy
American Airlines and American Eagle tickets are priced and sold based on the itinerary, and not as individual flight segments. If you foresee or must make a change to the itinerary while en route, you must contact American Airlines or American Eagle to determine how this may affect the ticket and remaining travel plans. For example, if you do not show up for one segment of your itinerary, we may cancel your reservations on all remaining flight segments.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
It appears from your description that he had a single reservation (PNR) for London-Phoenix-Salt Lake-Phoenix-London. Assuming so, once he could not complete the Phoenix-Salt Lake-Phoenix portion he became a "no show". For all airlines, that is an automatic cancellation of the remaining flights on that itinerary (reservation) . . .
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
It often costs significantly more to fly one way transatlantic.

The airline computer automatically cancels the ticket.
— the computer does not know if the passenger changed mind and does not need the returnor if passenger tried to do hidden city ticketing — such as adding on Salt Lake City — Ie hidden city ticketing.

The major US airlines all demand require flights to be flown in order of ticketing.

This was an expensive lesson but could have been worse.
 
May 1, 2018
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#5
The customer service person stated that this is the AA policy. This seems outrageous. We (his parents) are out $860.40. Do we have any recourse. This seems like unfettered greed.
This is the policy of pretty much every airline. I say this to demonstrate that it's standard practice in the travel industry, not to excuse AA because they are otherwise a horrible airline. It all comes down to the nuances between a stopover and layover. Your son had his flight booked as a layover where the airlines doesn't expect you to leave the airport - you're just momentarily stopping at that airport to change planes. Some airlines do allow "stopovers" which are stops where you purposely leave the airport and visit the connection city.

This policy ostensibly exists to combat "hidden city ticketing" aka throw away tickets. In many cases, a one-stop ticket from city A to C with a stop in city B will be much cheaper than a nonstop ticket from city A to B. Some (maybe many) passengers try to take advantage of this price differences; which is what your son did inadvertently.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 17, 2018
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#6
As others have said, automatic cancellation of the ticket if you miss a leg is standard for all airlines. You might have been able to get a better price (but maybe not) if you had called them right away when you knew he would miss the flight.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#7
My son recently flew from London to Phoenix and planned to connect in PHX to Salt Lake City for a short trip then back to PHX. His return on AA/British Airways to London was 2 weeks later. Due to unexpected circumstances here in Tucson where we live, he was not able to take the short trip to Salt Lake City and did not board the PHX to SLC connection. When he went to check in for his return flight from PHX to London, he discovered that AA had canceled his trip. They did not notify him. They would not reinstate his flight unless he paid a $150 change fee and paid the difference in fares (which was over $600) even though the flight had many available seats and he had purchased a ticket. The customer service person stated that this is the AA policy. This seems outrageous. We (his parents) are out $860.40. Do we have any recourse. This seems like unfettered greed.
Did he cancel the leg he couldn't take? If not, his whole trip was cancelled by AA. That's what happens when you don't show up for a flight; it's called a "no-show". If pax contact the airline prior to departure, sometimes things can be worked out. But if a pax doesn't bother and just doesn't show up, the rest of the tix is cancelled.