Airlines know that most flyers prefer nonstop flights and purposely charge more money for these desirable options. This is the reason the practice of hidden city ticketing has become so popular among crafty travelers.
Hidden city ticketing, or skiplagging, is buying a less expensive flight that has a layover in your preferred destination, getting off the plane in that city and not continuing the rest of your journey. Your true destination is hidden inside the ticket, and you can save money by doing this.
However, you have to be careful when booking such tricky tickets. First of all, you have to fly with a carry-on bag only. Checked luggage flies to your final destination and you won’t have access to it in that middle city. Second, you have to buy a one-way ticket because if you skip any portion of a flight itinerary, the airline will cancel the remaining segments.
Obviously, the airlines aren’t fond of this type of passenger behavior. German carrier Lufthansa even went as far as suing one of its passengers for skiplagging, but that’s an extreme end of the punishment spectrum.
Legal action aside, here are a few reasons I don’t book hidden city tickets.
It’s Against Terms and Conditions
When you purchase a flight, you enter into a contract with the carrier. Somewhere in the long contract of carriage, which no one ever reads, it says that you agree to fly the itinerary you purchased, blah blah blah, and skiplagging is essentially breaking that contract. Violating the agreement allows the airline to punish you the way it sees fit: forcing you to pay for the cost of the original ticket, erasing your frequent-flyer mileage balance or worse—refusing service.
I Like Earning Miles Too Much
Although skiplagging is technically not illegal, you still don’t want to be caught by the airline, and abusing the money-saving method raises too many flags. So, because you want to be as incognito as possible, in addition to wearing shades and a hat, you want to hide your frequent-flyer number from the airline when booking hidden city itineraries. Personally, I like earning miles way too much to be messing with the opportunity to earn more or risking to lose my entire balance. No, thanks!
Irregular Operations Can Mess Up My Plans
Things happen, and your flight can get delayed or canceled for various reasons, such as weather, mechanical or missing crew. Whatever it is, the airline likely will re-route you on another flight to your final destination. You might get “lucky” and get rebooked on a nonstop flight to wherever you didn’t want to go in the first place. You see, the airline’s part of the deal is getting you to where your ticket says final destination is, not the layover city. What then? I don’t want to be the one to find out.
The Effect on Fellow Travelers
Unfortunately, airports are like the Hunger Games, and it’s every man for himself. However, buying up seats with no intention of using them makes it more expensive for other passengers to buy the remaining seats. So, let’s be nice to one another and nip this questionable practice in the bud. I recommend using other techniques to save on airfare, such as redeeming frequent-flyer miles or taking advantage of flight deals.
Have you ever booked hidden city tickets? What was your experience like?