How To Cancel One Leg Of A Round Trip Flight

Flight plans changing halfway through a trip is an inconvenience many travelers face at some point. If you need to cancel just one leg of a round trip flight, you have a few options depending on the airline, the type of ticket purchased, etc.

We’ll walk through everything you need to know about canceling only one leg of a multi-city itinerary.

If you’re short on time, here’s the key takeaway: airlines generally allow you to skip one leg of a round trip ticket, but you usually won’t get a refund for the unused flight segment. There are some exceptions like with more flexible business class tickets.

Read on for specifics on change/cancellation policies and rebooking one-way flights if needed.

Rules Around Skipping a Leg on Round Trip Tickets

When it comes to canceling or skipping one leg of a round trip flight, there are certain rules and considerations that passengers need to be aware of. While it may seem like a simple task, airlines have different policies and restrictions in place that can affect your ability to cancel or modify your ticket.

Most Discount Economy Tickets are Use or Lose

One important thing to keep in mind is that most discount economy tickets, especially those purchased through online travel agencies or third-party websites, are typically non-refundable and non-changeable.

This means that if you decide to skip one leg of your round trip flight, you may lose the value of that leg and will not be able to claim a refund or apply it to future travel.

It’s crucial to carefully read the terms and conditions of your ticket before making any changes. Some airlines may allow you to pay a fee to change your flight, but it’s important to weigh the cost of the fee against the value of the canceled leg.

Differences by Fare Class and Airline

The rules around canceling or skipping a leg of a round trip flight can also vary depending on the fare class and the airline you are flying with. Higher fare classes, such as business or first class, often have more flexible change and cancellation policies compared to economy class tickets.

It’s always a good idea to check with the airline directly or consult their website to understand their specific policies. Some airlines may allow you to cancel or modify your ticket for a fee, while others may have stricter rules in place.

Rebooking One-Way Flights

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to skip one leg of your round trip flight, one option is to rebook your flight as two separate one-way tickets. This can sometimes be a cost-effective solution, especially if the cost of the cancellation fee outweighs the price of a new one-way ticket.

However, it’s important to note that rebooking as two one-way tickets may have its own set of limitations. For example, if you have checked baggage, you may need to collect and recheck your bags during the layover, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient.

Additionally, if you have booked a round trip flight with a specific airline or alliance to earn frequent flyer miles, rebooking as two separate one-way tickets may affect your mileage accrual.

Getting Partial Refunds in Special Cases

When it comes to canceling one leg of a round trip flight, there are certain situations where travelers can explore the possibility of obtaining partial refunds. This article will discuss three special cases where getting a partial refund is more likely to happen.

By understanding the options available in these scenarios, passengers can make informed decisions and potentially save money.

Elite Status Can Provide More Flexibility

Passengers with elite status in an airline’s loyalty program often enjoy additional benefits and perks. One of these perks is greater flexibility when it comes to making changes to their flights. Airlines value their loyal customers and understand that unexpected circumstances may arise that require a change in travel plans.

In such cases, passengers with elite status may have the option to cancel one leg of their round trip flight and receive a partial refund or credit for future travel.

For example, if a passenger needs to cancel the return leg of their round trip flight due to a sudden illness or a change in business plans, having elite status can provide the flexibility needed to make the necessary changes without incurring additional fees.

Passengers should check with their airline and review the terms and conditions of their elite status to understand the specific benefits that may be available to them.

Business/First Class Tickets Have More Options

Travelers who have booked business or first class tickets generally have more options available to them when it comes to canceling one leg of their round trip flight. Airlines often offer more lenient cancellation policies for premium class tickets, recognizing the higher cost associated with these bookings.

Passengers who find themselves in a situation where they need to cancel one leg of their round trip flight should reach out to their airline’s customer service to discuss their options.

In some cases, passengers may be able to upgrade their remaining leg to business or first class, depending on availability, instead of canceling it completely. This option allows passengers to still travel while maximizing the value of their original booking.

It’s important to note that each airline may have different policies and fees associated with these changes, so it’s best to contact the airline directly for specific information.

Bereavement Policies May Allow Changes

Unfortunately, there are times when travelers may need to cancel one leg of their round trip flight due to a family emergency or the passing of a loved one. In such cases, airlines may have bereavement policies in place that allow passengers to make changes to their travel plans without incurring hefty fees.

These policies are designed to provide some flexibility and compassion during difficult times. Passengers who find themselves in this situation should contact their airline and provide the necessary documentation, such as a death certificate or a funeral notice, to qualify for the bereavement policy.

Each airline may have different requirements and limitations, so it’s important to check with them directly for more information.

Tips for Modifying Round Trip Itineraries

Tell the Airline About Changes As Soon as Possible

When you need to cancel one leg of a round trip flight, it is important to inform the airline as soon as possible. Airlines have different policies regarding modifications and cancellations, and the sooner you communicate your request, the better chance you have of avoiding any penalties or fees.

It is always recommended to check the airline’s website or contact their customer service directly to understand their specific policy and procedure for making changes to your itinerary.

Consider Trip Interruption Insurance

One way to protect yourself from unexpected changes in your travel plans is to consider purchasing trip interruption insurance. This type of insurance can provide coverage for cancellation fees and other expenses related to modifying your round trip itinerary.

Before purchasing trip interruption insurance, it is essential to carefully read the terms and conditions to ensure that it covers the specific changes you want to make to your flight.

Book One-Way Flights to Avoid Issues

If you frequently find yourself needing to modify your travel plans, booking one-way flights instead of round trip itineraries may be a better option. By booking one-way flights, you have more flexibility to make changes to your travel dates or destinations without having to cancel an entire round trip ticket. Furthermore, booking one-way flights can sometimes be more cost-effective, especially if there are significant price differences between outbound and return flights.


While most round trip tickets require you to fly both flight segments, there are some exceptions. Higher priced business class fares tend to have the most flexibility to change one leg of a journey when needed. Bereavement policies may also allow modifications without fees in special circumstances.

No matter the reason for needing to alter your plans mid-trip, informing the airline as soon as possible and knowing their policies are key to making the process smoother.

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