What Are Airline No-Show Clauses & Why Should You Care?

When an airline sells you a ticket, you likely don’t read through all the fine print. One of the biggest sticking points in these tickets are no-show clauses. Though unpopular among passengers, airlines love these.

BA 787
British Airways refuses to get rid of their no-show clauses. Photo: British Airways

The no-show clauses

No-show clauses allow airlines to cancel a passenger’s ticket if they miss an earlier flight. This can be return tickets or else a connecting flight on an original ticket. Some passengers will take advantage of cheaper fares by adding connections they don’t intend to take. Skiplagging is a huge issue in aviation with plenty of different opinions.

Airbus Floppy Wingtips
Lufthansa has gone after passengers who excessively skip flights. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The consequences

Depending on the airline, there are plenty of different consequences. First and foremost, passengers will have to buy a new ticket with either another airline or the same airline. Last-minute tickets can be quite costly.

Furthermore, airlines may cancel your frequent flier status or prevent you from earning miles on their flights. For some passengers, this is a huge deal since they spend significant amounts of money and time to gain their status.

Why would passengers do this?

In some cases, passengers only need (or want) a one-way ticket. One-way tickets can be incredibly expensive. For example, a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Paris on Delta or Air France can cost almost $3,000 one-way in economy.

One-way ticket
A one-way flight can cost around $3,000 in economy from Los Angeles to Paris! Screenshot from Google Flights

Meanwhile, a roundtrip ticket can be had for as low as $648 in economy.

Cheaper roundtrip
A roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Paris can cost as low as $648! Screenshot from Google Flights

Looking at this, if you absolutely want to fly SkyTeam, chances are, you might choose to book a roundtrip and save money. Many other airlines also will price roundtrips cheaper than one-ways.

By selling a roundtrip ticket, airlines can be better be ensured that their airplanes will be filled. It also ensures airlines that passengers will fly with them and not a competitor. But if you’re a globe-hopper like me, you’ll likely find expensive one-ways to be painful and disappointing. After all, wouldn’t it make sense for a one-way flight to be half the price of a roundtrip?

For passengers who are hub captives in certain markets, this can lead to some incredibly expensive flights. As a result, some travelers may decide to book the cheaper roundtrip, but just forgo the return journey if they have other onward plans. However, this an have consequences, and airlines just aren’t willing to let go.

Overall

Airlines are after their bottom-line. In essence, carriers are twisting passenger’s arms into buying roundtrip tickets and penalizing them if they don’t take a flight. Many airlines do this in markets where they have dominance. As such, passengers may have limited options and be forced into these traps.

At the end of the day, these policies are good for an airline’s bottom line but bad for passenger flexibility. As a passenger, I should have the ability to decide whether or not I want to get on a flight and have the option to work with an airline in the case of extenuating circumstances.

For example, I recently was in Peru on an American Airlines ticket. However, due to a family emergency, I had to return early. American Airlines didn’t have the availability I needed to change my ticket, so I purchased a new ticket onboard a Delta Air Lines 767-400 for my return.

Thankfully, American Airlines didn’t come after me. However, airlines are now starting to examine no-shows and if this trend continues, it would be incredibly disturbing to see passengers crippled by airline actions.

Delta 767
A Delta 767-400 came in clutch to get me home from Lima. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Airlines should be about connecting passengers to the world. One-way flights are incredibly useful and can allow for some amazing itineraries. In the previous few months, I was able to go on a round-the-world trip with amazing one-way fares. However, I definitely had to re-route and skip and add destinations, simply due to the cost of one-way fares.

What do you think about no-show clauses? Let us know in the comments!

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