Skiplagged is a website that helps travelers find “hidden city” flights, also known as point-beyond ticketing. Essentially, a hidden city ticket refers to purchasing a flight with a layover at the desired destination, but intentionally not continuing on to the final destination and instead getting off at the layover location.
It might sound surprising, but due to the complex mechanics of flight pricing, this can often result in a cheaper flight than if you were to book a direct flight to the desired destination.
For example, let’s say you want to find a cheap flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, but the direct flights are too expensive. You might find a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco with a layover in Los Angeles, and then get off the plane in Los Angeles instead of continuing on to San Francisco. This would be considered hidden city ticketing.
The PROS for hidden city ticketing
Using hidden city ticketing can be a good idea if you are able to find a significantly cheaper flight and are comfortable with the potential risks and restrictions that come with it. That’s really the only benefit.
However, there are also potential dangers to consider before using this travel method.
Due to the risks outlined below, we highly recommend you do not engage in this practice. This article is for descriptive purposes, and we in no way endorse or recommend violating your airline’s contract of carriage which can land you in hot water. It’s just not worth the savings in our opinion.
The Dangers of hidden city ticketing
One of the main dangers of hidden city ticketing is that it is generally considered a violation of the terms of most airlines’ contracts of carriage. This means that if an airline finds out that you are using a hidden city ticket, they have the right to cancel the remainder of your ticket and potentially ban you from flying with them in the future. There have even been some cases where airlines take passengers to court for abusing this loophole or seize a passenger’s frequent flyer miles as punishment.
You can’t check your luggage
Additionally, if you are using hidden city ticketing and your luggage is checked all the way through to the final destination, it will not be offloaded at the layover location and you will not be able to retrieve it until you reach the final destination. This means that if you are using hidden city ticketing, it is important to only bring carry-on luggage with you.
You might be kicked out of the frequent flyer miles program
There are also potential risks when it comes to your loyalty program status and points. Some airlines may consider hidden city ticketing to be a violation of their loyalty program terms and conditions, and as a result, they may cancel your membership and/or confiscate any points that you have earned.
IMPORTANT: The rest of your itinerary will be canceled
If you haven’t been paying attention to anything else, pay attention to this:
Once you skip a leg of your flight, the rest of your trip can (and most likely will) be canceled by the airlines. This means that if you book a roundtrip flight, your return tickets could no longer be valid as well, leaving you stranded wherever you stopped traveling.
For this reason, if you are going the route of hidden city ticketing, you should book separate one-way flights for your departure and return, or only skip a city on the final leg of your return trip.
Last-minute connecting city changes
It’s not common but sometimes airlines will re-route flights through other connecting cities depending on factors like airport activity, pilot shortages, etc. If this happens, it completely messes up your trip, as your “target” destination is no longer on the itinerary at all.
The bottom line on hidden city fares:
Overall, while hidden city ticketing can be a way to save money on flights, it is important to weigh the potential risks and restrictions before deciding to use this travel method. If you do decide to use hidden city ticketing, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers and to only bring carry-on luggage with you to avoid any issues with checked bags.
It is also a good idea to read the terms and conditions of your airline’s contracts of carriage and loyalty program to fully understand the potential consequences of using hidden city ticketing, which can be severe.