Entanglement resources can increase transmission rates substantially. Unfortunately, entanglement is a fragile resource that is quickly degraded by decoherence effects. In order to generate entanglement for optical communication, the transmitter first prepares an entangled photon pair locally, and then transmits one of the photons to the receiver through an optical fiber or free space. Without feedback, the transmitter does not know whether the entangled photon has reached the receiver. The present work introduces a new model of unreliable entanglement assistance, whereby the communication system operates whether entanglement assistance is present or not. While the sender is ignorant, the receiver knows whether the entanglement generation was successful. In the case of a failure, the receiver decodes less information. In this manner, the effective transmission rate is adapted according to the assistance status. Regularized formulas are derived for the classical and quantum capacity regions with unreliable entanglement assistance, characterizing the tradeoff between the unassisted rate and the excess rate that can be obtained from entanglement assistance.