Airlines hate 'hidden city ticketing' - but it's still one of the best ways to save a ton on your flights if you know how to do it
- Hidden city ticketing can help you save a ton on your flights, but it could be a little risky.
- By booking a flight and getting off at the layover as opposed to the ticketed destination, you can save big money.
- Airlines could penalize fliers who use this method, though, so it's important to know the right way to do it.
'Hidden city ticketing' can be a game changer for passengers looking to save big on their next flight - if they know how to do it properly.
Scott Keyes, CEO and cofounder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told Business Insider about how passengers can use 'hidden city ticketing' to get the best deals on airfare.
To explain the concept, Keyes used the hypothetical example of a passenger in Chicago looking to travel to New York:
He said that people in Chicago can find flights that have a layover in New York. In this particular case, they can buy a ticket for a flight that will stop in New York, but have Burlington, Vermont, as its final ticketed destination.
Once the flight arrives at New York, you would simply get off the plane before the flight departs for its ticketed destination.
As a result, you can get to New York for a much cheaper price.
Keyes told Business Insider that you can use the website Skiplagged to help you find flights with layovers that match your intended destination.
But there are some caveats to hidden city ticketing, as it is considered a controversial practice.
"It is 100% legal, but it is against the airline's contract of carriage, meaning that they don't like it when passengers do this," Keyes told Business Insider. "If the airline knows that you are doing it, then they might not let you on that plane, or they can kick you off."
To prevent missing your flight, Keyes has a few suggestions:
- When you use this strategy, do not tell the agents that you are doing this and do not check a bag, as this luggage is going to end up at the final ticketed destination.
- Make sure your flight is not rerouted to stop in a different location midway to its destination.
- Never buy a round trip ticket when using this strategy. When you don't get off the plane at the indicated ticketed destination, the airline will cancel the rest of your trip.
George Hobika of Airfarewatchdog previously reported that hidden-city ticketing has lead to reduced revenue and increased-no shows for airlines.
Keyes highlighted some of the penalties that airlines could inflict upon passengers for using this tactic.
"Theoretically, what the airlines could do is say 'okay, if you want to fly the rest of this itinerary, you have to pay the full price of the ticket,' which can be whatever they say it is," Keyes told Business Insider.
"They could theoretically confiscate some frequent flyer miles and say that you are acting in a way that is contrary to the rules and regulations of the program. Or they could theoretically stop you from getting on that next flight," he said.
Airlines have also tried to sue Skiplagged for enabling travelers to practice throwaway ticketing. But this simply garnered more media attention for the search engine.
Although there could be penalties for fliers, Keyes said airlines do not actively search for passengers that get off before their ticketed destination.
"It is 99 times out of 100 not worth the airline's while to try to find people doing this," Keyes told Business Insider.
Keyes explains hidden city ticketing and other ways to get cheaper flights in much greater detail in his e-book, "How to Fly for Free: Practical Tips the Airlines Don't Want You to Know."
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