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Getting off of a flight early... How do airlines handle this?

The wife and I will be landing in Charlotte for a brief layover to destination in Asheville. Return flight home is out of Charlotte.

We're wanting to get a rental car for the time we are in Asheville.

My question is.......it appears to be much less expensive and easier if I pick up and return a rental car in Charlotte. However, that would require one of us to not get on the connecting flight to Asheville and get the rental car in Charlotte and drive to Asheville and pick up the spousefor the rest of our trip prior to driving back to Charlotte for our flight home.

I've tried calling the airline three different times. Twice I was on hold for almost 3 hours. I've kind of given up on calling them

I'm wondering if they're going to allow us to do this. I'm not worried about luggage because we can just check the bags in my wife's name. I just don't want them to cancel my return flight home from Charlotte

Does anyone know the answer to this question?

Posted by
1002 posts

Don't do this! If you don't make one leg, they'll cancel the rest of the itinerary.

Edited: Was it cheaper to fly into Asheville and out of Charlotte? Maybe given the new change policies, you can modify your destination to Charlotte. Have you tried doing that via the airline's app? I understand it's now possible to make changes via Delta app but I'm not familiar with other airlines.

Posted by
1588 posts

Not allowed and your return reservation will be canceled. Can you change your air reservations?

Posted by
3387 posts

I'm wondering if they're going to allow us to do this.

No. As mentioned they might delay the flight due to a missing passenger trying to locate you. And once they've realized you will not board, they will cancel the return flight. They will also be very annoyed with you and if you continue to do it you the airline might ban you.

Posted by
6882 posts

No one is going to physically stop you (since they have no idea or expectation that someone would just bail halfway through), but you'd be violating your Contract of Carriage (all that legalese you agree to when you purchase your ticket) with the airline and they could cancel the rest of your flight. Your ticket is the same as your intent to fly from Point A to Point B, not any other origin-destination. Plus the airline is going to be waiting for one of you in Asheville and holding things up for everyone else, at least for the minimum time they are obligated to wait for late passengers.

Posted by
6882 posts

While legal

It's not legal. No airline would allow gaming like that in its ticket terms. Unfortunately, it's also true that airline tickets are purely one-sided contracts and one has to take-it-or-leave-it, there is no negotiation (except for things like compensation, for which there is an unpublished scale to work with and a published maximum)

Posted by
8878 posts

Getting off of a flight early...

Opening the door and leaving the plane while in the air is a serious no-no.

On a more serious note, can you change you flight to be to/from Charlotte and just drive the 2 hrs if the rental car is that much cheaper in Charlotte?

Posted by
11469 posts

You can do it but as stated the rest of your itinerary will be canceled.

It is not illegal to do this. There is no law that says you have to continue on. It is a civil matter. You have made a contract with the carrier and if you break it, they can take action against you. They cannot have you arrested. Airlines don't make law.

Posted by
6882 posts

A contract is a legally enforceable instrument, it has nothing to do with being arrested. Businesses set their own terms in their contracts - if you agree to and then breach their terms, they can turn to legal redress or any other spelled out terms for defaulting. The most cost effective, quick, and likely option is that they will simply cancel the rest of your reservation.

Posted by
11469 posts

Having a legally binding contract does not mean if you don't follow it is not legal. It means that the contract will hold up in court.

Saying something is not legal in common vernacular refers to criminal action. There is nothing criminal here.

Posted by
6037 posts

While not criminally Illegal, It is a breach of Civil Law, ie: violation of a binding contract; giving the plaintiff (the airline) cause to both impose it's own punitive actions (cancelling the itinerary, voiding frequent flier miles and status, banning from future bookings, etc.) and to seek compensation in court (for the difference in airfare between the two tickets and any material losses related to delays caused).

Posted by
2916 posts

It's not legal.

It depends on how you define the term "legal." It's a breach of contract, but that doesn't mean it's "illegal."

Posted by
21879 posts

Lets not get too nitpicky over terms. If you just land and take off in the same plane, and one of you leaves. It is a big security concern. They know how many people are continuing and the count is not right. You are off the plane but what did you leave behind? Will it go boom later? If it is a connecting flight (different plane) then the assumption is that you are a no show and, therefore, you will not be needing your return ticket and the return ticket will be cancelled. And all of the mumbo, jumbo about legal contract, etc., is correct. You agreed to ride their airplane from A to B for a certain fee and they agreed to get you there and back. You decide not to go (break the contract). That is fine -- airline is not required to honor the balance of the contract because there is no contract. It is a two way street.

PS -- Nine different posters and it is unanimous !!! Stay on the Plane !! It is a rarity on this board for nine posters to agree on anything.

Posted by
1277 posts

Original poster did not use the term "legal"
He was asking.... will there be consequences for my behavior? The answer is yes, there will be repercussions. 🤔

Posted by
11469 posts

There is one other issue that hasn't been mentioned. Your ticket takes you to Asheville. As of now, you connect in Charlotte. However, the airline can change your routing to change somewhere else as long as they get you to Asheville.

Posted by
338 posts

There is one other issue that hasn't been mentioned. Your ticket takes you to Asheville. As of now, you connect in Charlotte. However, the airline can change your routing to change somewhere else as long as they get you to Asheville.

Blockquote

Frank I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Can you please clarify

Posted by
3387 posts

Frank I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Can you please
clarify.

You have bought a ticket to Asheville. The airline will make sure you get to Asheville. While you currently have a stop in Charlotte, if something goes wrong you might be rerouted via another airport.

Posted by
11469 posts

You bought a ticket to Asheville. The current routing has you going through Charlotte. The airline could cancel your flight and route you Home-Raleigh--Asheville. It is only obligated to get you to Asheville. It is not obligated to route you through Charlotte.

Posted by
18390 posts

Is the ticket from you home airport to Asheville less expensive than a ticket from you home airport to Charlotte? I know that sound silly, but with the way airlines use market based pricing these days, it is sometimes that way.

In other words, are you saving money by buyng a ticket to Asheville when you are only going to Charlotte. It looks like you only want to forego the Charlotte to Asheville leg to save money on car rental. If saving on the airfare is not the case, the airline should not mind allowing you to not fly to Asheville if you let them know in advance, say when you check in at your home airport - particularly if home to Charlotte is less than home to Asheville and you waive the return of the Charlotte-to-Asheville fare.

As I will explain later, there was this case with United years ago - but more later.

Can you book car rentals at both Charlotte and Asheville?

If so, I would do that and then explain when checking in at you home airport that you want to cancel, without a refund, the Charlotte to Asheville leg for yourself.

This reminds be of a situation that occurred maybe 25 years ago here in Colorado. There was a low cost airline, American West, that had really good fares out of Colorado Springs to cities in the east - so good, in fact, that people, particularly if they lived on the south side of Denver, would drive back and forth to Colorado Springs to take advantage of the low fares on America West. United wanted to compete, so they offered similar fares for Colorado Springs to those cities. However, United didn't have any flights from Colorado Springs directly to those cities. All of those flights were Colorado Springs to Denver to the east and from the east through Denver to Colorado Springs coming back, with a change of aircraft in Denver on the way. So people would get a ride to Colorado Springs, fly through Denver to the east, then come back to Denver and just get off the airplane and go home, not going on to Colorado Springs.

United found out and threatened to bill people who didn't fly on to Colorado Springs, but realized how stupid it would be to charge people for not flying their airline. American West folded, so United never had to solve the problem.

"Dear United, for the next 30 days, I will be flying from Denver to Colorado Springs. You can deposit the fare you would have charged me not to fly in my credit card account, ____________."

Posted by
2048 posts

I’m assuming it’s because cars in Asheville are dramatically more expensive that you’re trying this? The only thing you can do if that’s the case and you still think it’s worthwhile is sit on hold with what I assume is American until you can change your ticket and pay the price. Then you can see if the price for your new ticket makes the savings worthwhile on the on the rental car

Posted by
846 posts

Almost 30 years ago I got off a flight early. It hadn't been my intention when I booked the flights. Just an opportunity that became available. I drove to my final destination spent the allotted time there, and made the return flight home. No problems, no questions. But this was almost 30 years ago and, this is the prime thing to consider, my ultimate destination was Palm Springs in April. The intermediate stop was LAX. I didn't save any money by getting off early. It would have been cheaper to fly into LAX and out of Palm Springs. I suspect that's why I didn't have any difficulties.

Posted by
2048 posts

Trotter. I suspect pricing had nothing to do with the fact that you didn’t have any problem and less sophisticated computer systems had everything to do with why you didn’t have any problems.

There are a few airlines you can get away with this on, but pretty much anybody flying the route the original poster is on is not one of those.

Posted by
846 posts

Yes, you’re most likely correct Carol. I certainly wouldn’t do it again. If for no other reason than the security issue. I’ve been on a flight where a passenger’s bags were loaded but the passenger didn’t get on. They unloaded and reloaded the entire baggage hold. Needless to say we were delayed.