Many airlines say it’s global practice in the aviation business model to cancel the return flights of passengers who had not checked in for their first leg of travel.
It states that if a passenger does not arrive for their outbound flight, they will be considered a no-show, and all the connecting flights associated with this one, even a return flight, will be cancelled and no refund will apply.
This is what happened to an irate CapeTalk listener who had recently booked a return ticket with Kulula Airways.
Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says there are provisions for this controversial industry practice in the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) published guidelines.
Kulula, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are some of the airlines who have implemented the 'no-show' policy.
While Mango and FlySafair have confirmed that they do not conduct the practice, Knowler explains.
It's not just Kulula, it's a worldwide practice. Not all airlines do it though.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
After the return flight is cancelled, airlines are able to resell the ticket. Essentially they are getting double payment for that ticket.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
She says there's been a groundswell against this practice by consumer groups overseas who claim the clause breaks consumer law.
Knowler agrees that the policies don't comply with the Consumer Protection Act, especially because there is typically no contact or notification system to disclose the changes.
Unless you re-confirm, they will assume that you are not taking that return flight.— Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
She advises that if passengers miss the first leg of a flight, and have a return one booked with the same airline, they must call the airline and confirm that return flight is still valid.
Listen to the discussion on The John Maytham Show:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Passengers feel ripped-off by airline 'no-show' policies