We’re always looking for ways to save money so we can travel more, right? Hidden city ticketing is a way to score cheap flights by getting off the plane before your final destination. Intrigued? Read on to find out how it works, what the downsides are, and how to pull it off.
What is hidden city ticketing?
Hidden city ticketing is where a passenger books a flight with a layover in the city they want to visit, and simply doesn’t board the connecting flight to the final destination. This isn’t illegal but it is sometimes prohibited by the airline's contract and could potentially have some annoying consequences.
How hidden city ticketing works
Hidden city ticketing is a way to find cheaper tickets than you would otherwise find for a direct flight. It takes advantage of the airline's complex pricing system. People often assume airfares are based on distance traveled but in reality, they are determined by supply of flights and the demand for tickets, meaning you can find some hidden deals.
The benefits of using hidden city ticketing
Clearly, the main benefit of hidden city ticketing is saving money. You can save up to 70% on flights by ditching the second half of the journey. For example, say a flight from San Francisco to New York costs $300. But a San Francisco- New York- Charleston flight costs $200. Get off in New York and you’ve saved yourself $100. Understandably airlines aren’t too keen on this, so they have been introducing ways of deterring the practice.
The disadvantages of hidden city ticketing
One of the most obvious disadvantages of hidden city ticketing is that it violates the terms and conditions of many airlines. This means that if you are caught using this method, you could face penalties like losing all your air miles. It’s pretty unlikely the airline will know unless you are a frequent hidden city ticket buyer.
No checked baggage
You shouldn’t check your bag when flying with a hidden city ticket. Checked bags will almost always go all the way to the final city and if you’re planning to get off somewhere else, that’ll be a problem.
Occasionally airlines must change routes and the city you are planning to get off at might be scrapped. This is rare but possible, and you can’t tell the airline that you were planning on exiting early so you will be stuck with the new route.
Prepare passport and visas
If you have a flight from Miami - New York- Montreal but plan to get off in New York you will have to show your passport as staff will assume you are going all the way to Canada. If the final destination requires a visa, you will have to arrange one to board the flight, even if you don’t plan on visiting that country.
Don’t add frequent flyer accounts
If you do and the airline realizes that you’ve bought a hidden city ticket, they may invalidate all the miles that you’ve accrued.
How to use hidden city ticketing
When you check in you mustn’t tell the staff your plans or they will cancel your ticket. Only travel with a bag that can fit under the seat in front of you or you risk it being checked into the hold. At the layover city, simply leave the airport and carry on with your day.
Bear in mind, once you’ve been a no-show the rest of your tickets with that airline will be canceled. That means your return flight too if you’ve booked one, so think carefully when you’re booking.
FAQs about hidden city ticketing
Is hidden city ticketing legal?
Yes, it is legal. Airlines have tried to bring lawsuits against passengers in the past, but they have all been dismissed. It is the right of the consumer to decide how to use what they pay for.
How can I book a hidden city ticketing trip?
The website Skiplagged was created to make it easy to find hidden city ticketing routes and prices. Without it, it is hard to compare flights. You are always more likely to find hidden city ticket prices for hub airports like Amsterdam and Paris as opposed to smaller destinations.
Will travel insurance be valid?
Insurance or guarantees from travel agencies will only cover the itinerary you originally searched for. So, if the flights are changed or canceled, they will only find you alternatives to your intended destination. For example, if your flight is from New York to London to Paris but you want to get off in London, they will only find you alternatives to Paris.
Long story short….
Hidden City ticketing could be a good option to save money on flights. It doesn’t come without a few risks, but if you don’t mind these, it can be a good way to save considerably.
Written by Laura Sedlak