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FAQ: Skipping Segment - Hidden City / Point Beyond / Throw Away Ticketing (master thd

FAQ: Skipping Segment - Hidden City / Point Beyond / Throw Away Ticketing (master thd

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FAQ: "Missing" or "Skipping Segments": Hidden City / Point Beyond and Throw Away Ticketing
Q.What will happen if I "skip" a segment?

A. Skipping an intermediate or end segment is most often referred to as "Hidden City / Point Beyond Ticketing" by American Airlines, and “skiplagging” by others; doing so invalidates the contract you have with AA regarding your ticket. AA will at least cancel the remaining segments. If the reason for missing a segment is to drop the last segment to save money on a more expensive ticket to the intermediate destination, it is called a "Hidden City / Point Beyond" ticket. American Airlines states, in the Conditions of Carriage (and more existentially in Tariff Rule 100AA):

American specifically prohibits the practices commonly known as:

Hidden City/Point Beyond Ticketing
: Purchase of a fare from a point before the passenger's actual origin or to a point beyond the passenger's actual destination.
Link to American Airlines Conditions of Carriage, Ticket Validity.

Q. What about buying a round trip and not flying the return?

"Throw away" ticketing, that is purchasing a less expensive round trip ticket with the intent of not flying the return segments ("throwing away" the return tickets) is similarly frowned upon, but may be acted upon - particularly if this becomes frequent or a pattern

Q. Do American Airlines Corporate Security / AAdvantage Fraud have people and algorithms running in the background that check for these?

Assuredly, yes. Can people be found liable for fees and/or lose their accounts / status / miles? Yes, we have had many reports on FT, and the risk increases for repeaters. Can people be criminally or civilly prosecuted? Doubtful. (Link to article on Contract Fraud.)

Q. Would I get in trouble skipping the final segment?

A. Possibly not, if you don't do this on other than the rare occasion, but there is risk.

Q. Can I short check my baggage?

A. In most cases, you may find it difficult, unless you have an overnight connection, must retrieve your baggage for customs or because your connection does not offer interlining of baggage.

Q. Will I get my EQ and Award Miles.

You will likely accrue miles for the segments you actually flew. But “skiplagging” could result in miles confiscation and potentially account closure.

Q. Can I claim the residual value for the unused segment?

Au contraire; with a hidden city / point beyond ticket, you owe AA money under their rules. United and Lufthansa have billed skiplaggers, AA may have.

Q. What has AA said they can do to me about hidden city or throwaway ticketing?

“Passengers who attempt to use hidden city tickets may be denied boarding, have the remainder of their ticket confiscated and may be assessed the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.”

A highly recommended article on this topic is 3 Words on Hidden City Ticketing: Don’t Do It (link) from ExpertFlyer, 27 Feb 2019.

Archived older posts may be read here.

For Conditions of Carriage - Ticket Validity and Letter used by AA:

AA Hidden City and Point Beyond Ticketing:

Skipping an intermediate or end segment is referred to as "Hidden City / Point Beyond Ticketing" by American Airlines, and doing so invalidates the contract you have with AA regarding your ticket. AA will generally cancel the remaining segments, and if it is dropping the last segment to save money on a more expensive ticket to the intermediate destination, it is called the "Hidden City" ticket.

The entire Conditions of Carriage, the contract that governs your ticket (in additon to the Detailed Fare Rules attached to your fare class and readable prior to purchase), are here: CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE.

The specific language regarding Hidden City and Point Beyond Ticketing is here:
TICKET VALIDITY - COMPLIANCE WITH TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE

Tickets are valid for travel only when used in accordance with all terms and conditions of sale. Terms and conditions of sale include but are not limited to:
  1. The passenger's itinerary, as stated on the ticket or in the passenger's reservation record,
    • Any requirement that the passenger stay over a specified date or length of time (for example, Saturday night or weekend) at the destination specified on the ticket.
      • Any special purpose or status (for example, age in the case of senior citizen or children's discounts, military status in the case of a military fare, official government business in the case of a government fare, or attendance at a qualified event in the case of a meeting or convention fare) that entitles the passenger to a special or reduced rate, or
        • Any other requirement associated with the passenger's fare level.


Unless a ticket is reissued by American or its authorized agent upon payment of applicable charges, or an authorized representative of American waives applicable restrictions in writing, a ticket is invalid:
  1. If used for travel to a destination other than that specified on the ticket,
    • If the passenger fails to comply with applicable stay-over requirements,
      • If the passenger does not meet the purpose or status requirement associated with the fare category on the ticket, or
        • If American determines that the ticket has been purchased or used in a manner designed to circumvent applicable fare rules.


American specifically prohibits the practices commonly known as:

Back to Back Ticketing: The combination of two or more roundtrip excursion fares end to end for the purpose of circumventing minimum stay requirements.

Throwaway Ticketing: The usage of roundtrip excursion fare for one-way travel, and

Hidden City/Point Beyond Ticketing: Purchase of a fare from a point before the passenger's actual origin or to a point beyond the passenger's actual destination.

Duplicate and Impossible/Illogical Bookings: Duplicate or impossible/illogical American Airlines bookings are prohibited without prior authorization from American Airlines. A duplicate or impossible/illogical booking includes, but is not limited to, bookings for the same passenger on flights traveling on or about the same date between one or more of the same or nearby origin and/or destination (such as JFKDFW and LGADFW or DFWLAX and DFWONT), or bookings with connections that depart before the arrival of the inbound flight.

Fraudulent, Fictitious and Abusive Bookings: Fraudulent, fictitious and/or abusive bookings are prohibited. These types of bookings are defined as any bookings made without having been requested by or on behalf of the named passenger. Additionally, creating bookings to hold or block seats for the purpose of obtaining lower fares, AAdvantage award inventory, or upgrades that may not otherwise be available, or to circumvent any of American Airlines' fare rules or policies, is prohibited without prior authorization from American Airlines.

Where a ticket is invalidated as the result of the passenger's non-compliance with any term or condition of sale, American has the right in its sole discretion to:
  1. Cancel any remaining portion of the passenger's itinerary,
    • Confiscate unused flight coupons,
      • Refuse to board the passenger or check the passenger's luggage, or
        • Assess the passenger for the reasonable remaining value of the ticket, which shall be no less than the difference between the fare actually paid and the lowest fare applicable to the passenger's actual itinerary


Sample letter from American Airlines on Hidden City Ticketing:

Dear ,

Let me take the opportunity to clarify American Airlines position on hidden city or point beyond ticketing. Purchasing a ticket to a point beyond the actual destination and getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical (sic). It is tantamount to switching price tags to obtain a lower price on goods sold at department stores. Passengers who attempt to use hidden city tickets may be denied boarding, have the remainder of their ticket confiscated and may be assessed the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.

Because we compete with other airlines with different route structures, we sometimes find it necessary to give a traveler who is traveling beyond a connecting point a better price than travelers who are just traveling to the connecting point. For example, a passenger who is traveling to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles can go on one airline via Phoenix for a price that is lower than the cost of traveling on American between Los Angeles and Dallas. If we want to offer the same price to Austin as the other airline, but the only way we can get travelers there is via Dallas, we find ourselves charging the Austin passengers less than the Dallas passengers.

Although the issuance and usage of hidden city tickets is not illegal in the sense that one could be fined or sent to jail by the government, it is unethical and a breach of a passengers (sic) contract with AA. Both tariff rule 100AA and American's Condition of Carriage, which are incorporated into every ticket sold by American as part of our agreement to carry the passenger named on the ticket, bar hidden city ticketing. In addition, it violates the agencies' contract to act as an agent for American Airlines.

If American Airlines continues to lose revenue as a result of hidden city transactions, the fares we charge must inevitably rise.

Sincerely,

In August 2020 AA went after user HappyInTheAir561 for Hidden City Ticketing, demanding payment of $2,500 or permanent closure of his AAdvantage account and loss of 600,000 miles balance. Below is the letter (missing is the 2,500 quote), and there is an entire thread about it here: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...rmination.html The user says he ultimately paid the money.
Mr. XXXX,

As an analyst with American Airlines, one of my responsibilities is investigating violations of the General AAdvantage® Program Conditions. An audit of your AAdvantage account, determined that you have engaged in the practice known as ‘Hidden City ticketing’; the purchase of a fare to a point beyond your actual destination. Hidden city ticketing is explicitly defined in AA’s Conditions of Carriage as a violation of ticket validity. The Terms and Conditions of the AAdvantage program further state that compliance with the Conditions of Carriage is compulsory for participation in the AAdvantage program. As such, AAdvantage account XXXXXX is restricted, pending the outcome of our investigation. You may review the terms and conditions of the AAdvantage ® program (several parts of the terms and conditions are noted below) by clicking the link below or by copying and pasting it into your browser.

The audit of your account XXXXXwas completed on August xx, 2020. The following reservations were not issued in compliance with the AAdvantage Terms & Conditions, Conditions of Carriage or AA.com Site Usage policy:

52 HIDDEN CITY TICKETS (Included each one of the flights they believe is a hidden city ticket)

Not unlike other commodities, airline seats are market priced. A seat on a non-stop flight is a premium product and commands a higher price. Seats in connecting markets must be priced competitively and hence can be substantially cheaper. The ill-effects of point beyond ticketing are two-fold; the customer receives the flight for a price for which they aren’t entitled and a seat is spoiled on the separate connecting flight. An airline ticket constitutes a contract and the terms of that contract are stated explicitly in the Conditions of Carriage. Please see excerpts below.

Mr.XXXXX, these actions have resulted in clear and considerable losses to American Airlines. In addition to our loss for the travel provided, tickets booked through prohibited practices are considered fraudulent, and therefore not eligible to accrue mileage. In this case, our loss is further compounded through the Elite mileage accruals, benefits, and services used that were not otherwise available. Generally, violations of this nature subject the AAdvantage account to termination. However, we are willing to provide you with an opportunity to restore an equitable relationship through restitution for the loss on your identified travel.

You may respond to this message by 3pm, CST, Friday, August 31, 2020 stating you would like to bring your account back to good standing. At that time, the segments will be re-priced based on your intended travel and we will send you the information so that you may make the appropriate reimbursement for the travel provided. Failure to return the account to good standing or to reply, will result in the termination of your AAdvantage® membership and all its benefits, including all remaining AAdvantage® miles in your account and any award tickets issued from it.




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Old Feb 26, 19, 9:08 am
  #316  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
If the airline changes the schedule, why wouldn't the refund be half of the RT fare, adjusted of course if the return is booked in coach?

If the schedule change occurs within two weeks of the scheduled departure date, EC261 would apply to the return portion from Europe to the USA.
The AA COC is sufficient for a full refund. OP could, if he wanted under EC 261/2004 also choose a later date for the return, but that does not yield him much as AA would do that anyway.

Under OP's scenario, he would be entitled to a refund of the fare difference, e.g., the cheap return vs. the expensive one-way, not 50% of the return.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 9:32 am
  #317  
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We often find ourselves dealing with this dilemma, as we enjoy transatlantic repositioning cruises. But AA tries to charge much more for one way transatlantic tickets than round trip. Our options include:

As to hidden city or throwaway ticketing, possibly the best article out there is ExpertFlyer’s 3 WORDS ON HIDDEN CITY TICKETING: DON’T DO IT (February 27, 2019) link.

1. Using an OTA (AMEX, Expedia, etc.) to find a one way transatlantic trip that has a decent price. Sometimes we have to dig down, but we’ve found trips like a LIS-MAD (in Business Club, much nicer than the usual Euro Business) and MAD-JFK Business Plus, operated by Iberia (iirc they were marketed by IB and BA), and JFK-SFO as IB operated by AA in the A321T. Decent price, got EQs.

2. If you’re flying a return within 365 days, buy an extended stay ticket. It may be cheaper to buy one originating in Europe and use example one to get there. If there’s a major (two hours or more) schedule change or cancellation for the return, you’re entitled to cancel (though you may not get any money back).

3. It’s also possible to do example two and throw away the return ticket, known as throwaway ticketing or skiplagging. This is against the American Airlines Conditions of Carriage. At this time, some feel AA isn’t likely to go after you if you don’t make a habit of throw away ticketing, but note JonNYC’s caveats to the contrary that AA can and will choose to go after passengers engaging in skiplagging, as they have to those engaged in hidden city ticketing. Other airlines going after skiplagging passengers include: Lufthansa has just begun doing so, BA has stated they intend doing so. United has taken action against those skiplagging for several years.

Lufthansa:

3.3.4.1. In the event that you do not use the return trip shown on the Ticket, and Art. 3.2.3. not withstanding, we shall recalculate and demand the price in accordance with the one way fare for the leg actually flown valid at the time of first issuance of the Ticket.
American Airlines, according to OMAT:

Bookings made to exploit or circumvent fare and ticket rules are strictly prohibited. For example, you can’t buy a roundtrip ticket and only use the return flight; you can’t combine two or more roundtrip excursion fares end-to-end for the purpose of circumventing minimum stay requirements (back-to-back ticketing); and it’s illegal to book a ticket in someone’s name without the person’s consent.

If we find evidence that you or your agent are using an exploitive practice, we reserve the right to:
  • Cancel any unused part of the ticket
  • Refuse to let the passenger fly and check bags
  • Not refund an otherwise refundable ticket
  • Charge you for what the ticket would have cost if you hadn’t booked it fraudulently.
Some feel they can further mitigate their risk by using two or more different airlines for throwaway ticketing, e.g. AA to and another partner return, on the theory that the airlines don’t communicate with each other seamlessly.

In the end, you’re still paying for a round trip and taking on some degree of risk - presumably minimal if this is a one off trip, but possibly not - see the post copied below and the original below in which JonNYC says AA revenue recovery policy includes going after skiplaggers.

4. Use AA miles for this trip. Last year AA wanted some huge amount for SMF-DFW-KEF, so we used miles for that flight (instead of taking FI redeye Saga Class, which is like AA domestic First - we wanted lie flat overnight for various reasons).

5. Forgo AA miles etc. entirely and use another airline entirely to save a lot of money. E.g. Icelandair will sell you a one way transatlantic ticket, give you a free up to one week stopover in Iceland and save you money. No AA miles, but you can credit FI flights to Alaska. (We’ve used Air Europa and Lufthansa, and of course there are no AA EQ possible on these.)

Others may choose to just use a LCC like Norwegian, LEVEL, etc. to economize.

6. If the season is right (~April east, October - November west) and you have the time, transatlantic repositioning cruises can be very economical.

And...
Originally Posted by rtpflyer View Post
If you are booking in conjunction with a cruise, it is often advantageous to book one-way air travel via the cruise line's air travel program as they have access to one-way rates that are not available to the general public. I assume the airlines make these one-way rates available to them, but not generally in order to continue to charge high one-way rates to business travelers (who will not be cruising).
It cruise air might not include the fare class, airline or even alliance you’d prefer for earning miles.
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Last edited by JDiver; Mar 2, 19 at 7:44 am Reason: Add links and correct per JonNYC’s post below
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Old Feb 26, 19, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The AA COC is sufficient for a full refund. OP could, if he wanted under EC 261/2004 also choose a later date for the return, but that does not yield him much as AA would do that anyway.

Under OP's scenario, he would be entitled to a refund of the fare difference, e.g., the cheap return vs. the expensive one-way, not 50% of the return.
this is simply not true.

if AA deems a refund is in order for the unflown LHR-LAX segment, that refund will be 50% of the roundtrip base fare (assuming the fare basis is the same for both LAX-LHR and LHR-LAX segments) plus 100% of the taxes for the LHR-LAX segments.

and the guys at prefunds.aa.com deem pretty much every deviation from standard as legit for a refund - an advance schedule change, a delayed flight, a change of equipment. it's pretty comical actually.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 9:53 am
  #319  
 
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JDiver:
If you are booking in conjunction with a cruise, it is often advantageous to book one-way air travel via the cruise line's air travel program as they have access to one-way rates that are not available to the general public. I assume the airlines make these one-way rates available to them, but not generally in order to continue to charge high one-way rates to business travelers (who will not be cruising).
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Last edited by rtpflyer; Feb 26, 19 at 10:04 am Reason: Reply to JDiver specifically, though may be of general interest
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Old Feb 26, 19, 10:08 am
  #320  
 
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
. A schedule change will not help you because the refund for a cancellation of that return flight will be $0.
Even if true, it would no longer be a skiplag then.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 10:09 am
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Originally Posted by rtpflyer View Post
JDiver:
If you are booking in conjunction with a cruise, it is often advantageous to book one-way air travel via the cruise line's air travel program as they have access to one-way rates that are not available to the general public. I assume the airlines make these one-way rates available to them, but not generally in order to continue to charge high one-way rates to business travelers (who will not be cruising).
This, I'm heading to London on Celebrity in April and Celebrity had really good fares for a one way return in both coach and business. Was surprised by how low the fares are and how easy it is to pick your options through their website.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 10:10 am
  #322  
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No, there is nothing stopping you. But don't make a habit of it or they will catch on, and do them and fellow pax a favor and cancel properly a day before..

Also, when and if you do make a return, do it on another airline just in case.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by FAA1996 View Post
This, I'm heading to London on Celebrity in April and Celebrity had really good fares for a one way return in both coach and business. Was surprised by how low the fares are and how easy it is to pick your options through their website.
This works even on Europe only cruises. Spouse and I are traveling separately to Dublin this summer each using mileage redemption for one-ways on different dates for a sightseeing and a conference. After the conference, we are cruising and then using the cruise travel agent for one-ways back home together.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 10:43 am
  #324  
 
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Originally Posted by Proudelitist View Post
No, there is nothing stopping you. But don't make a habit of it or they will catch on, and do them and fellow pax a favor and cancel properly a day before..

Also, when and if you do make a return, do it on another airline just in case.
no, no, and no.

not flying the return segment will not be caught, even doing it several times a year.

you are not doing a favor to anyone by cancelling a segment you don't intend to fly.
this is why AA overbooks.
and cancelling jeopardizes your ability to get a refund if there is a delay.

there is no reason to go out of your way to any AA flight in the future.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:16 am
  #325  
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
no, no, and no.

not flying the return segment will not be caught, even doing it several times a year.

you are not doing a favor to anyone by cancelling a segment you don't intend to fly.
this is why AA overbooks.
and cancelling jeopardizes your ability to get a refund if there is a delay.

there is no reason to go out of your way to any AA flight in the future.
AA has not, at least anecdotally here, gone after skiplaggers. But as mentioned previously, with link, Lufthansa has begun acting against skiplaggers and BA has announced they will do so. And below JonNYC states clearly they do.

So, IMO, the risk is currently minimal, but that doesn’t mean that’s a static condition.

Last edited by JDiver; Feb 26, 19 at 1:53 pm Reason: Add JonNYC’s information
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:32 am
  #326  
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Question

Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
AA has not, at least anecdotally, gone after skiplaggers...
Of course they do-- what are you talking about??
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:39 am
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
AA has not, at least anecdotally, gone after skiplaggers. But as mentioned previously, with link, Lufthansa has begun acting against skiplaggers and BA has announced they will do so.

So, IMO, the risk is currently minimal, but that doesn’t mean that’s a static condition.
you are mistaken.
both the LH & BA examples speak to the potential risk of hidden-city-ticketing, while this thread is about throw-away-ticketing.
the latter is benign, happens all the time.
and even the former, though irrelevant in this thread, is so laughably low risk at AA that it refunds a generous valuation of the unflown segment for comically trivial reasons.
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:41 am
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Sometime I really have rather strange itin with some detours and the agent at check in in some occasions asked me if I will fly the rest ... my answer is : yes, if everything according to plan ...
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:43 am
  #329  
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Exclamation careful whom you listen to here..

"Hidden City / Fare Jumper
Do you suspect a passenger not flying all booked legs ?
or a pax who wants to short check their bag?
You can report it for investigation.
Pull up PNR...
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Old Feb 26, 19, 11:56 am
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while all the talk of hidden-city-ticketing is totally off-topic in this thread, when traveling on a hidden-city itinerary, it's certainly prudent to give no AA agent any reason to look at your booking.

and then just a quick form post hoc at prefunds.aa.com for a trivial irregularity and yahtzee.
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