The airlines check each other's prices

Can I let my outward or return flight expire?

There can be many reasons why you only want to use part of your ticket. For example, tickets for a return flight are sometimes cheaper than a one-way ticket or a departure with a feeder flight abroad is cheaper than starting directly from Germany.

Now you could get the idea of ​​letting some of the flights, e.g. the first segment from abroad to the actually desired departure airport, expire or only use the return flight. However, many airlines do not allow you to fly only part of the ticket. Otherwise it can become a Recalculation of the ticket price come. The price will then certainly be much higher than at the time of booking.

Here is an excerpt from the Lufthansa Conditions of Carriage:

3.3.3. If you have decided on a tariff that provides for a fixed sequence of tickets, please note: If the journey is not commenced on all or not in the sequence of the individual sections specified in the ticket, with otherwise unchanged travel dates, we will recalculate the flight price according to your changed route. […]

The reason that one-way flights are often more expensive than return flights is that airlines are aware of the fact that business travelers who only need one route are much more willing to pay a high price than holidaymakers who always go there - and need return flights. Also the Night from Saturday to Sunday-Rule can be explained like this.

Especially on long-haul routes, the airlines try to woo passengers away from each other with low prices. Tickets with a feeder flight, e.g. with Lufthansa from London or Amsterdam, are significantly cheaper than the same long-haul flight starting directly from Frankfurt / Main or Munich. British Airways or KLM are trying to do the same from German airports.

In order to prevent passengers who book a ticket starting in e.g. Amsterdam and simply board in Frankfurt / Main, Lufthansa expressly points out the recalculation of the flight price during the booking if the flights are not completed in the order booked:

This fare is only valid if the flights are completed in the order in which they were booked. Otherwise an Recalculation of the flight price based on the actual travel route.

In practice

But how does it look in practice? Do you really get an invoice from the airline if, for example, you let the last flight on a ticket expire?

Let outbound / feeder flight expire

If you let the outbound flight expire and only use the return flight or even just miss the first segment, the airline will probably refuse boarding. A ticket expires automatically if a sub-segment is not started!

In some judgments it has already been clarified that it is only permitted to use part of the total service due, but that the travel price may still be recalculated. (Source)

Let the return flight / last flight expire

In practice, the return flight or the last flight on a ticket can usually expire without any problems.In theory, however, the airlines could recalculate the price based on the flights used.

That's why you should still be careful. For example, if you book a return flight from Amsterdam via Frankfurt / Main to the USA and would like to get off on the return flight in Frankfurt / Main, you should not book a ticket on the same day from Frankfurt / Main with the same airline. Otherwise they can assume that you never intended to fly the ticket completely.

The Berlin District Court has dismissed a suit brought by Lufthansa against a passenger, but unfortunately the judgment does not send a signal. A clarification by the highest court would be desirable, but is currently not in sight.

But then you shouldn't get the idea of ​​reclaiming taxes and fees for unused routes. Otherwise the airline could come up with the idea of ​​really recalculating the flight price. That will most certainly not work out in your favor.

Exceptions: low-cost airlines

Low cost airlines (Eurowings, Ryanair, Easyjet ...) mainly offer one-way flights. These can be combined on a ticket for a return flight, but should one of the segments expire, this does not affect the validity of the remaining flights.

Have your ticket issued & let the outbound flight expire with impunity

Italy has a very strict consumer protection law and forces airlines to include a special case for tickets that are issued in Italy. If you let the outbound flight expire and inform the airline no later than 24 hours after departure, the airline must ensure that you can still take your return flight. More here:

What will happen to my luggage?

If you want to let the last segment expire on the return flight and want to get off in Frankfurt / Main, for example, you have to make sure at check-in that your luggage is only checked through to Frankfurt / Main and not to the actual destination.

This can sometimes be a challenge, especially abroad. Either the check-in agent asks stupid questions, then you should have a suitable excuse ready (eg: "The stopover is so long, I have to go to my luggage") or he plays stupid and pretends he can't . If the agent acts stupid, you should ask for his supervisor. This usually works wonders, but it is no guarantee that it will work.

The safest option is to move the onward flight to the next day. This way you can be sure that your luggage is not checked through. In most cases, a stopover of less than 24 hours between arrival and departure can be realized without a large surcharge.

For this you have to do the flights as an open jaw or with mmore honorable stops book. This is possible, for example, with Expedia, eBookers or the search engine Momondo:

* What the asterisk means: For links marked with a *, we receive a commission if a booking or a certain promotion is made via the linked provider. There are no additional costs for you and we can offer you travel deals in return without annoying advertisements. We do not receive any money for simply setting the link.


I founded Travel-Dealz in 2010 and have been writing about the latest travel deals every day. Since I was 17, I've been looking for ways to fly as cheaply as possible. With my knowledge, I try to do exactly the same for you. If you have a question you can always contact me! Just write me an email to: [email protected] Please do not confuse this with a travel agency.

You might also be interested in: