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Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

Level Contributor
65 posts
22 reviews
Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

I have two tickets on UA gotten with frequent flyer miles for AKL-SFO-PDX for March 1. I now want to go to LAX rather than PDX. (This is the end of this ticket; there are no on onward flights on this ticket.) When I called UA about changing the last leg, I was told that the entire ticket would need to be rebooked and that the number of miles would be considerably more than what I used originally. (I bought early and got a Saver fare; those are no longer available.) When I asked about getting off in SFO and not reboarding for PDX, I was told that the bags would go to PDX. I subsequently realized that we will need to clear immigration and customs in SFO, so will be with our bags then and presumably could keep them. I could book my own ticket from SFO to LAX. Several questions: Is this legit, or could there be problems? Should I inform anyone from the airline that I am doing this, and if so, when and where? If I do do this, I presume that I need to personally bring my bags to check in for SFO-LAX (or might there be the possibility of checking them right after we clear customs at the terminal?). How much time should I allow between landing in SFO and taking off for LAX, given that we need to clear customs and immigration, get from that terminal to where we'd check in for the SFO-LAX flight, and then allow time for that check-in. Thanks in advance for your help. (I am thinking of calling UA again and asking about just dropping the final leg. I am Premier Gold and a Million Miler.)

19 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
59,767 posts
149 reviews
1. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

Do not call UA. Just take your bags and leave after customs. And have at least a 4-5 hour gap. Normally we suggest 3 hours but you need to add a couple more to reduce risk. Book southwest as it has the most lenient change policy should your first flight be late

Level Contributor
65 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

Excellent suggestions. Thanks so much!! Does the Southwest thing work both ways? I.e., can we get on an earlier flight than the one we book? How far is the Southwest ticket counter from where we'll clear customs? FYI, our flight from AKL is due into SFO at 6:50 am. Relevant Southwest flights to LAX leave at 8:10 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:50 AM, and 12:15 PM. Is 9 AM feasible, or should I book 10:50 AM?

Edinburgh
Level Contributor
12,295 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

No if you take an alternative air,ine for your first flight, all the remaining segments will be cancelled when you don’t show up

uk
Level Contributor
460 posts
25 reviews
4. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

You have not made it clear whether this is a return or one way ticket. If one way then you could skip the last leg but if a return on the same PNR you will lose all your return flights.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
528 posts
1 review
5. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

I really think you will be able to change the ticket to akl-lax at saver award. Check again online. On UA seats continue to open up for award travel. You still have time until March 1. Keep checking. As for fees, are those reduced for premier gold? Think about the money saved not having to buy the sfo-lax leg and worrying about missing your connection.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
18,006 posts
118 reviews
6. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

Southwest will charge you the fare difference if you try to get in an earlier flight so there could be s charge. Just had this happen where I bought the cheap wanna get away fare. Was at the airport early and wanted to get an earlier flight. The only tickets left were a higher fare class so there would have been a significant charge.

Stuttgart, Germany
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
8,657 posts
90 reviews
7. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

As per post 1, just leave enough time to make your connection. No you cannot get your bags transferred unless you pay to change your ticket with UA.

I would certainly want 3-4 hours in SFO for the connection

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
54,504 posts
1,819 reviews
8. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

OK, if read correctly, you have RT ticket:

PDX-SFO-AKL with return AKL-SFO-PDX.

You plan to take all flights, with the exception of the very last leg, SFO-PDX. Instead, you propose to buy a ticket from SFO to LAX (possible inward, from LAX, and maybe LAX-PDX), with SFO being your Point of Entry to USA. Is that correct? There are no additional legs, on the Mileage ticket after SFO-PDX?

If so, you will have your luggage in-hand, at SFO., though it will be routed SFO-PDX.

If I have not missed something, you can take your luggage, remove all tags/stickers, then check it with different airline, to LAX. If so, then a no-show for SFO-PDX will just result in a cancelled ticket. As it is last leg, no issues, down the line.

If WN, I would explore their Business Select for ultimate flexibility, though WN is quite lenient, with usually Fare Sifferential only, if you can get seats on an earlier flight. Just a thought.

At SFO, you will arrive at International, and at G Gates. Just walk out of International, and then walk, or take train to T1 (for WN flights. Check bags there, and pass TSA Security to get to WN hate in T1.

Now, being Gold, and w/ MM status, I would personally call the Gold portal with UA, and talk to a new agent. *Usually* I find the dedicated status agents to be very good, and most helpful - though not always. I have had a lot of fees waived, due to status.

If you are still not getting UA to work with you, then I would just no-show for last leg, buy ticket SFO-LAX (and LAX-PDX, if that will be final destination, at some time), then fly that other airline - could even be UA, but WN might offer benefits?

As for timing of LAX flight, I would want 3 hrs (absolute min. for me), to 5 hrs. SFO is efficient for Intl arrival, BUT baggage reclaim before Customs, can be slow. With GE, and TSA Pre-Check, I plan on 1,5 hrs, at SFO for all processing, but experience tells me closer to 45 mins. in actual time % usually. The extra 1.5 hrs is padding.

Best of luck,

Hunt

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
34,347 posts
7 reviews
9. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

"You have not made it clear whether this is a return or one way ticket. If one way then you could skip the last leg but if a return on the same PNR you will lose all your return flights."

=================

From the OP's posts on the New Zealand forums they are returning from a visit to New Zealand. Therefore no flights at all on the ticket after the (dropped) SFO-PDX.

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
54,504 posts
1,819 reviews
10. Re: Want to skip last leg of "free" (with mlg) ticket

USBT,

That was exactly how I read it too - but have not had my second cup o’coffee, so wanted to be certain.

Good luck to OP.

Hunt

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