The Simple Flight Mistake that Cost Me 500$

I’ve made a lot of travel mistakes. So many, in fact, that I made a student travel blog just to telling others not to go out and make the same ones. The mistake I made last week deserves a  blog post all to itself. It’s a simple flight booking mistake, but it cost me 500$.

I thought I could do something known as “skipping flights”. Basically, this means that instead of getting on the flight at your scheduled departure city, you get on the flight at a layover city. I wanted to intentionally miss the first flight. Turns out, if you are not present on the first leg of your journey the airline assumes you’ve missed the whole flight and will cancel your entire journey. I didn’t find this out until one week before my trip. I’m so thankful I realized this wasn’t allowed before I left because otherwise, I would’ve been stranded in Tokyo and forced to pay for an expensive flight to Vancouver to get home.  

Here’s how it all went down.

I found my flights to Asia for an insanely good price on Chris Myden’s site YEG Deals. My flight from Vancouver to Bangkok cost me 540$ – including baggage fees. I booked that about 6 months in advance, without knowing where else in Asia I would be going. My original plan was to go to Thailand and Bali for a month but after my Aussie friend, Brooke, decided not to come to Bali, I decided to visit her in Australia instead

I booked the rest of the flights for my trip – Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chaing Mai to Bali, Bali to Sydney. And then I realized that flying to Bangkok from Sydney was going to take me an extra 12 hours, at least. I was not down to sit on a plane for 12 hours, especially since direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are only 12 hours. Unfortunately, buying direct flights between Sydney and Canada usually costs around 1400$. 

My last blog post talks more about how I planned everything from flights and hotels to packing for SouthEast Asia weather – to check that out click here.

I thought I would be super clever and book a flight from Sydney to the layover city, Tokyo. The flights were cheap, and it would make my trip shorter. I booked a Sydney to Tokyo flight for 390$ and started to plan the rest of my trip. This was all completely booked 3 months before my departure date.

My itinerary at that time: Vancouver to Bangkok return with a layover both ways in Tokyo (540$), (flights around Asia and to Sydney during the trip), Sydney to Tokyo flight (390$).

About a week before my trip, I called my friend (Nikita) to go over all our bookings. I decided to look into cancelling the first leg of my booked flight (the one from Bangkok to Tokyo that I intended to skip) to see if I could get money back for it. 

My flight reservation company gave me an abrupt answer – if I missed the first leg of my journey, I would lose my entire flight. I had to cancel my Sydney to Tokyo flight and book a brand new one to Bangkok. 

At this point, I freaked out.

Thankfully, I’m currently visiting my wonderful parents at home so they were able to help me search for a new flight and decide what to do. My dad taught me a lot of what I know about travel and he’s always the first one I message when I’m freaking out about something travel related. He walked me through the steps I had to take to get a new flight and get me home on time. I had to cancel my flight from Sydney to Tokyo, obviously, which gave me 390$ in flight credits on Jetstar.

I found a direct flight for a great price with Swoop, only to see it get fully booked right before my eyes when I refreshed my screen. (Side note – very not impressed with the Swoop booking site, it was glitching out so much!) I ended up booking with Jet Star; it’s going to be the longest travel day of my life. 

I’m flying Sydney to Melbourne, Melbourne to Singapore, Singapore to Bangkok, Bangkok to Tokyo, Tokyo to Vancouver, and then taking a ferry to Victoria. It’s going to suck. I used my 390$ Jetstar credit, so technically the flights cost 890$ – almost exactly double of what I paid for my return flights from Vancouver to Bangkok. Credit included, the new flights cost me 500$ more.

Ultimately, that 500$ is just money.  I know that the trip moments like reuniting with my best friend Nikita after 4 years apart, visiting Elephant Nature Park, and seeing the Harbour Bridge in Sydney will make it all worthwhile. 

Learn from my mistake. Don’t try to skip flights, it doesn’t work, it’s dumb, and it’ll either leave you stranded somewhere or paying extra.

For more on skipping flights – this site explains why it’s not cool to do it.

I love meeting and helping out other student travellers on Instagram – make sure to follow me!


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