What happens if you skip a flight on your journey?

Airfare pricing sometimes doesn’t make any sense.

And that’s why travellers are finding ways to save some money on airfares. One of the ways is hidden-city ticketing. It’s when you buy a connecting flight, but use only a portion of it. Because sometimes it’s cheaper than buying a flight to your destination. Doesn’t sound logical, right? But that’s exactly how airlines work sometimes. What happens if you skip a leg on your journey?

What happens if you skip a flight (or multiple flights) on an itinerary? Is it even allowed? Or will your ticket automatically become void due to no-show?

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Airplanes on a runway at the airport

What happens if you skip a flight on your journey?

First, let’s answer the question, why is it even happening?

1. Hidden-city ticketing

You may have heard about “hidden-city ticketing”.

It’s when you book a ticket to a destination that you have no plans on traveling to (the “hidden city”) with a connection at the intended destination. You disembark at the intended destination and do not travel further — to the final destination of the itinerary.

You take the first part of the trip and skip the rest.

If you are a a frequent traveller, you must have heard about it.

Why would anyone do that? Well, the explanation is very simple — booking a flight to a “hidden city” sometimes is significantly cheaper than booking a direct flight to the intended destination, even with the same airline and on the same flight.

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Flight information screens at the airport

2. What happens if you skip a flight?

Stricter and stricter rules have been introduced regarding skipped flights.

While they aren’t the same for all airlines, and not every airlines is enforcing them the same way, there are two important things to take into account no matter what airline you are flying with - don’t ever skip the first leg of your itinerary, and don’t skip a flight on a return flight.

If you skip the first flight, the remainder of your ticket becomes invalid.

This stands true with more and more airlines around the world. If you miss or skip any portion of a plane ticket, your airline can cancel all flights remaining on the ticket’s itinerary.


But if you intentionally miss the last leg of the journey, your ticket won’t be cancelled, as there is nothing left for the airline to cancel.

If you skip the first flight, your return flight also gets cancelled.

To avoid that, don’t ever skip a flight on a return flight.

Or buy several separate tickets instead if you plan to do so.

An empty airplane

3. Other things to take into account

Pay attention to the airline contract of carriage.

As a passenger skipping a flight violates the airline contract of carriage, you may be also fined or lose your frequent flyer points. Read terms and conditions carefully before booking a hidden city flight and planning to skip a flight. In most cases most likely you won’t be held accountable for this, but there have been cases when airlines sued their passengers who did not take the last leg of their ticketed journey.

If you are planning on skipping a flight, travel with a carry on only.

Do not check in your bags, as any checked baggage items will be unloaded only at the final destination. You can’t easily get your checked luggage without reaching the final destination.

Holding a toy plane

Are you still eligible for compensation if your ticket becomes void due to no-show?

Hidden-city ticketing violates most airlines’ contract of carriage. Will airlines pay out compensation if a passenger has skipped a segment on an itinerary?

Example 1:

Your flight was delayed by several hours, and you are in a hurry. You decide to arrange another way to your destination instead of waiting for the delayed flight. You don't notify your airline. You arrive a your destination and file for a compensation. Are you entitled to a compensation?

No, you are not eligible for a compensation as you didn’t show up to the flight. You arranged another way without notifying the airline.

In order to be eligible for flight delay compensation, you have to:

  • Either wait for the delayed flight;
  • Or notify the airline that you want to arrange another way to your destination and not wait for the delayed flight since you don’t have time. The airline has to try assist you with that.

Example 2:

You have booked a connecting flight London — Riga — Vilnius.

You want to take only the first leg of the journey.

You booked the flight to Vilnius (with a stopover in Riga) because it was cheaper than the flight from London to Riga. You are going to take only the first flight to Riga, and skip the last flight.

Although it's a breach of contract, you can do it.

The airline can’t cancel your journey anymore, as there is nothing left to cancel. But are you eligible for compensation if one of the flights is delayed or cancelled?

No, you will not be eligible for compensation.

Simply because you didn’t travel to your final destination.

Flying over mountainous region

Round trip vs one way

Buying a round trip ticket instead of a one way ticket is another way of saving money. You want to travel one way, but you see that the airline is offering discounted round-trip fares. You buy a round trip ticket and use only the first flight — to get to your destination. You do not use the second flight.

And again, although it's a breach of contract, you can do so.

Can you buy a round trip flight and use only the second flight?

No, as it will most likely be already cancelled due to no-show.

Bon voyage!