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Is it okay to bail on 2nd leg of an International flight to Europe?

I bought a ticket with an 8hr layover in Amsterdam and then it continues on to Brussels. I wanted to know if it's okay just to jump on a train in Amsterdam and start my vacation or must I continue on to Brussels? I'm sure I'll be cleared customs/etc in Amsterdam. Perhaps due to some entry regulations I must continue on but I"m not sure. I'm on KLM so perhaps I should ask them. Any advise?

Thanks!

Gary

Posted by
454 posts

There are several potential issues with this plan:

  • Is there a return booking on the same ticket? For example, you might have booked JFK-Amsterdam-Brussels and Brussels-Amsterdam-JFK in one transaction. If so, you can't do this as your return flight/all remaining flights in your booking will be canceled once you fail to board your Amsterdam-Brussels flight.
  • Are you checking bags? If so, they will be checked straight through to Brussels. You will clear immigration in Amsterdam, but you won't see your checked luggage until Brussels.
  • If you call KLM, they are highly unlikely to let you pick up your bags in Amsterdam (which is called "short checking bags" -- it's normally allowed in situations where you have a very long/overnight layover, for instance). What you are doing is essentially a variation on "hidden city ticketing," which airlines hate. If you do call them anyway, under no circumstances tell them that you are not going to board the second flight -- just say that you need something important in the bags. However, I still think this is unlikely to succeed.
Posted by
2398 posts

Have you called KLM to see if you could change your flight to terminate in Amsterdam? It doesn't make sense to wait 8 hours for a flight to Brussels, when it's barely 2 hours away by train.

I had a similar situation once on American, and believe it or not, logic carried the day.

Posted by
5586 posts

andrewesque is correct above on all points. Here's one more:

The airline could retaliate against you either by confiscating frequent flyer miles or by denying you something in the future. Both of these are pretty unlikely, but they are possible (the other items mentioned above are certain). The airlines do hate it when people do this, and it is a violation of the terms of the ticket you bought, so they can come down on you hard if they choose to do so.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks for the great advise! I'll venture a call to KLM to ask.

Thanks again!

Gary

Posted by
293 posts

Wow, I knew none of this either - thanks for this enlightening info.

Posted by
2893 posts

This is not going to work if you have checked bags. The first response perfectly states all the reasons why. The only way this will work is if you do not check luggage and the leg that you skipping is the last leg of a return trip. You can't tell KLM that you need something out of your bag until you get to Amsterdam because obviously if you know ahead of time that you will need something during the layover, the answer is to not check it. So, you would have to wait until you get to Amsterdam and I doubt very much that your request will be granted unless you happen to get a super nice person (which is very possible in the rest of the Netherlands but less likely at the airport). Depending on the price you paid for the ticket, they may be willing to terminate your flight in Amsterdam for no cost but most likely, there will be a change fee. Just wait at the airport and take your flight to Brussels and consider this lesson learned. If you have time, please report back to let us know how your call with KLM goes. It would be great if they let you terminate in Amsterdam but bear in mind that even though the trip is only 2 hours by train you have to make sure that the train schedule is actually going to get you to Brussels much earlier when you connect a train to flight including leaving a cushion for a possible late flight arrival.

Posted by
668 posts

I had a situation like this with Icelandair. I called them and they allowed me to cancel one leg of my trip (without a refund of course), without compromising my return tickets on the same airline. (I had only a carry-on bag.)

Posted by
5043 posts

If you skip a leg of your flight, the security people will go ape. Please follow the other folks' advice and just change your flight.

Posted by
6644 posts

Gary, curious as to whether you booked this yourself, on KLM or a third party website, or how you got such an inconvenient connection.

Posted by
34 posts

Well when I booked it, it seemed pretty cool as I used to live in the Almere just outside of Amsterdam and my bride had never seen the city. We are meeting family over there and our meetup place has gone from Paris to Frankfurt to now Aviano(near Venice). I did call the airline as recommended and they were quite nice but no change was feasible so, I'll find. Few things to see there for a while and get back to the airport in the afternoon to catch the last leg. Thanks everyone for the always great assistance

Posted by
503 posts

I'm curious. I can understand why security would not like someone to do this, but can't figure out why the airline cares. They have the money from the ticket purchase so they aren't out anything but a body on the plane. Am I missing something?

Posted by
362 posts

Lisa - I'm no security expert, but I've always been told that if you stop HERE, but your luggage keeps going THERE without you accompanying it, then that is a red flag.

Otherwise, I have no suggestions to offer.

Posted by
11613 posts

My thought regarding security was that if your luggage is sent onto a connecting flight and you are not on the flight, it will be delayed while unaccompanied bags are taken off.

Also, if a passenger books through to a city that has no high-alert status, but deplanes in a connecting city that does, it raises a red flag. The rest of the ticket gets cancelled.

The airlines want you to go where you say you are going.

Posted by
11260 posts

While unaccompanied bags are always a concern, you are all reading this wrong.

The OP has purchased a flight from the U.S. to Brussels and has paid the fare for that flight. It just happens to change planes in Amsterdam. But what if the flight from the U.S. to AMS is more expensive. Then, a "smart" passeger would just book a flight to Brussels but get off in AMS.

The airlines are wise to this. They have contracted with you to fly you to Brussels. If you get off, they could, technically, charge you for a flight to Amsterdam.

Nor do they have to keep you on those flights. Since the OP has booked a flight to Brussels, the airline is obligated to get him to Brussels. What if his flight is oversold? The airline could move him to another flight, even with another airline, as long as they get him to Brussels in a reasonable amount of time. That new flight may not even go to Amsterdam. It doesn't matter where he changes because he bought a ticket to Brussels.

Not showing up for the second part of a connecting fight will cancel the rest of the tickets--including any return flights--without compensation to the passenger.

Posted by
503 posts

Thank all for trying to answer my question as to why the airlines care about someone not continuing on with the last leg of their flight agenda. I assumed the person had only carry on luggage. I understand it could be a security issue given the day and age we live in regarding terrorism. So if the airline reported this "no-show" customer to some sort of national security organization, fine, but that's not what happens, they just punish their customer by canceling the return flight. I still don't get why the airline cares. It seems to come down to a matter of money as suggested. It seems quite petty to me that an industry that earns billions of dollars quarterly on luggage fees and change fees would do this to customers. Rant over.

Posted by
3662 posts

FYI: It’s always advantageous to book two one ways if the price is the same. Ducking out of the last leg of the outbound itinerary is one advantage.

Since all Icelandair flights are nonstops to/from Reykjavik, I’m curious about Joel dropping his last Icelandair leg....

Posted by
1217 posts

For round trip flights, it's known as 'hidden city ticketing' and has to do with how airlines price flights in order to maximize revenue. (example- common to see a flight that's something like Orlando-Atlanta-Amsterdam to be sold cheaper than the Atlanta-Amsterdam leg alone because Orlando is a very competitive airfare airport and the Atlanta flyer is presumed to be a Delta/Skyteam hub captive that will just pay more because of the effective monopoly at that airport)

Because the airlines don't like hidden city flyers, they write the ticket and fare rules so that if you miss one leg of a ticket, the remaining flight segments are cancelled. Which is a problem if you find yourself with a voided ticket and the need to buy an expensive walk up one way ticket back across the Atlantic.

Posted by
6872 posts

Lisa,
The airlines "care" because an airline ticket is basically a legal contract where both parties have to adhere to its terms. So when a passenger decides to unilaterally change the contract terms to their advantage (by paying to fly to city "x" but instead choosing to depart in city "y"), the airline will void the entire contract (including the flights not yet taken on the return) since it's a breach of contract. They have that right and they're not "punishing" anyone by voiding a contract that the passenger has clearly not intended to adhere to based on their actions. Airline ticket pricing are route/date/passenger/airport/seat configuration specific, there is no negotiation after you've already signed the contract by buying the ticket (unless you want to pay extra for any changes like upgraded seats or different dates). The airline can't make you disembark at the connection hub to put a higher paying passenger in your seat; they have to take you all the way through to your final destination. Likewise, you have agreed to disembark at the final destination when you bought the ticket, it's all in the small print that no one reads. Leaving a seat empty because you bailed halfway through is an opportunity cost for the airline (they could have sold that seat to another passenger, but instead they're counting on you to occupy it). A different origin and destination pair is subject to a different fare than the original, and airlines won't allow people to game the system through arbitrage.

Hopefully this article will help clear it up a bit more:
https://www.skyscanner.com/tips-and-inspiration/hidden-city-ticketing