Welcome to our new occasional series: Ask an Agent! I’ve asked my friend and travel agent, Denise Muecke from Just Travel, to jump in and offer her expertise to answer your vexing travel questions.
Today’s question comes from Natasha who asks:
I’m traveling to Europe with a layover in Munich. I want to get off in Munich and skip the last leg of the flight, continuing on to my final destination a few days later. I can buy a ticket for this last leg between Munich and Zagreb on my own for about $99.
I called the airline to tell them I want to drop the last leg of the flight – they said the tickets would have to be re-booked at a cost of over $1000! Is there anything I can do to make this work without paying such a huge penalty?
This is really a tough question. You could ditch the last leg of the trip, get off the flight in Munich, and catch the $99 flight to Zagreb, without contacting the airline. I know most of us want to be honest and forthright and contact the airlines, giving them a chance to be the good guy, but the airlines see this as a way of making an extra buck, and will of course charge “change fees” or “re-ticketing fees”, whatever they’re calling it this week. The only possible problem in this scenario is IF the airline questions you on the return trip to the states, you would have to lie and say you’d become ill and missed your flight, got lost in the airport, etc.
Chances are they won’t question you at all. The downside to doing this, is if the airline wants to play mean, they can withhold any air miles you would have earned or charge you a fee anyway. But if the traveler is not a frequent flyer, 9 times out of 10, this works in their favor.
Some passengers book this way on purpose, it’s called “Throw Away Ticketing” or “Hidden City Ticketing”. Purposefully booking a specific flight with a layover in a particular city, and skipping the last leg.
My recommendation, when wanting to book more complicated air travel, is go through a travel counselor. They have access to all the airlines’ schedules on one screen and can almost always find a way to get you where you want to go, without all the secrecy and extra fees.
Do you have a question for Denise?
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