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Booking an alternate return flight

Washington DC...
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Booking an alternate return flight

OK. I have a question. I have to fly from IAD to OMA (Omaha, NE) in July. I fly out on a Tuesday, but I'm not sure when I'll be returning. It will be either Friday or Sat. morning. What I want to do is book a round-trip coming back on Sat., but then also book a one-way coming back on Friday. That way, I'm covered no matter which day I want to return.

My question is whether some obscure airline rule prevents this? If I use the return leg on the roundtrip, no problem, but what if I use the one way ticket for return and not the return of the roundtrip? It's cheaper to book this extra ticket than to book a roundtrip and then trying to change the return date, because I'll get hammered with the change fee and the fare difference. I know I'll end up eating one of the return trips and I'm OK with that, but I want to make sure I won't run afoul of some airline rule designed to protect their change fees.

Thanks for any info you can give me.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
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1. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k5448276-… Rather than booking a throwaway ticket - and the rule isn't obscure at all, quite clear in the T&Cs of major carriers - have you checked the cost of booking a more flexible IAD - OMA ticket?

It may be cheaper in the end to book a semi-flex ticket that will allow you to make a change to the return date than to book a return plus a single from OMA to IAD.

Alternately you may have to decide on the day you wish to return to Washington, book the return flight and stick with what you book. You may find a night at an Omaha hotel cheaper than that single from OMA to IAD.

Nashville, TN
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2. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

Why not just book for Saturday and then spend the night if you complete your business early. If you're going to spend the money anyway, you might as well relax and enjoy yourself.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
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11,136 posts
62 reviews
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3. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

Does Southwest fly those routes? They are more flexible with changes.

Otherwise I agree with TravellerPlus and vegas-guide. Look into the price of a ticket you can change or spend an extra night in Omaha.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

I'm the OP. This isn't a business trip. It's a trip for a skating competition. But I wouldn't call this a vacation, either. It falls somewhere in between. The reason I want to hedge my bets on which day I return is to save leave time. If I can come back on Friday, then I can work both Sat. and Sun. and save two days of leave. I want to take an actual vacation in Sept. which is why I want to save my leave time. So if it costs me a little extra money to do this, I'm OK with it, since it will help me to get my vacation. I'm just afraid the airline will use some obscure rule to screw me over.

Edited: 26 May 2012, 10:15
Liverpool, UK
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5. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

If you don't use the return portion of your return ticket this is technically against the airlines terms & conditions - it's called throw away ticketing.

They could chase you for any fare difference but it's not likely for a "first offence" - you could normally argue you just missed the flight but this might be more problematic as you would have flown the previous day on your single ticket.

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6. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

If you flew the previous day it would be far more problematic.In the past airlines have not bothered with throw away ticketing.That has now changed with more sophisticated computer programs,and airlines are making greater efforts to recoup the revenue involved.

When you purchase your ticket you click on the box to accept their terms and conditions.This gives them the right to recharge your credit card for any fare difference,cancel your frequent flyer account and other sanctions.

Is it likely,probably not,but if you travel the day before with the same airline you are waiving a red flag at a bull.Being more discreet and using a different airline and not using frequent flyer numbers is safer.

Check the latest threads on flyertalk for more info from people who have been sancioned,some of whom have lost huge numbers of ff miles.

Good luck with the skating.

Edinburgh, United...
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14,778 posts
16 reviews
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7. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

Why not simply book 3 one-way flights? Price is virtually identical to buying a return + one one-way ticket as far as I can tell. And then you wouldn't have to worry about breaking the terms and conditions of your ticket.

Edited: 26 May 2012, 11:06
Orlando, Florida
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1,182 posts
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8. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

But what if you scheduled the Friday flight as your return on the R/T ticket, and if you do buy another one-way, have that be the Saturday flight.

If you can fly on Friday, then you just throw away the O/W ticket.

If you have to fly on Saturday, you 'missed' your Friday flight and rather than deal with the change fees, you just bought a new O/W ticket.

Do that raise any red flags? I'm curious to know as well.

But I do like the advice to check out SW - they have no change fees. I don't recall if they fly from IAD but I know they have a big hub at BWI.

Washington DC...
3 posts
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9. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

Lexexpress, I have considered that. That will probably be what I end up doing. The cost comes out to within $20, so it would be worth it for me to avoid any hassles down the line.

My other alternative is Frontier Airlines which has a deal where I can book totally refundable return tickets and just cancel the one I don't use. But Frontier only flies out of DCA and I try to avoid National if possible. Parking at DCA is a total crap-shoot. I know people who have driven down there only to find out that all the lots are full.

10. Re: Booking an alternate return flight

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