Skiplagged is a site that takes advantage of a little known feature known as hidden city ticketing. You can purchase a hidden city or round-trip flight to exploit a loophole to save money on their flights.
Back in 2015, United Airlines decided to sue Skiplagged.com for allegedly trying to defraud the airline out of $75,000 in lost revenue. United Airlines lost the suit and the case was thrown out and the site stills stands.
What is Hidden City Ticketing?
Hidden City is the layover city you want to make your final destination. Let’s say you wanted to fly from New York (JFK) to Charlotte (CLT) for example. You search the internet for JFK to CLT and the search results show that the lowest fare is $198. You would then search the Skiplagged site and enter JFK to CLT, the search results would show a flight from New York (JFK) to San Antonio (SAT) with a price of $101 and the flight has a "layover" in Charlotte. When you take that flight, during your layover in Charlotte, you would simply make this your final destination.
Since your final destination is Charlotte, you’ll get off the plane in Charlotte and not take the Charlotte to San Antonio leg. Using this hidden city technique would save you around $100 by booking on Skiplagged.com. The screenshot shows separate routes to SAT and ORD. The SAT route is the cheaper fare and that would be the flight that you would book out of the two available routes.
In order to do this, YOU CANNOT CHECK IN LUGGAGE. If you do, your luggage will proceed on to the last leg of your destination without you.
Airlines hate this site and those that take advantage of this travel hack. While it’s not illegal to skiplag, it does violate certain parts of the airline’s rules, or Contract of Carriage. For this reason, I do this maybe twice a year.
This Isn’t for Everyone
A few downsides to booking hidden city tickets is the potential for things to go wrong.
You should never check bags when doing this since you wouldn’t want those bags to end up at the ticketed final destination
If you book a Basic Economy flight on American, they will make sure your luggage is small enough to fit under the seat
If you board in the last group, there is a great chance that there will be no overhead space available and your luggage will be checked to your final destination. Try to board in the earlier groups to ensure luggage space
If there are weather or mechanical issues, they may try to reroute you to your final destination
I don’t book hidden city tickets often, but when circumstances demand it, it can be a useful tool. If you decide to try it, consider the following suggestions:
The segment you plan to skip must be the last segment of your itinerary. If you fail to show up for an earlier segment, most airlines will cancel the rest of your trip. In general, this means that you should book these flights as one-ways
This technique only works when you are flying to a connecting airport (ideally a hub). For example, Detroit to Greensboro would not work because Greensboro is not a connection point to any other destinations. However, Greensboro to Detroit worked because Detroit is a Delta hub. Many connecting flights go through Detroit.
Never check your bags. You do not want your bags to end up at your ticketed final destination. There are exceptions to this rule when flying internationally since you sometimes have to retrieve your bags along the way, but you seriously need to know what you’re doing if you rely on this
Avoid gate checking bags. In some cases when gate checking bags, the gate agent may try to check your bag all the way to your final destination. If you are forced to gate check your bags, make sure that it is checked only to your intermediate destination
Consider leaving your frequent flyer number off the ticket. If you’re worried about the possibility of losing your miles, you may be better off simply not earning miles at all for the flight. One big downside of this approach is if you have elite status: you won’t get any benefits during the flight and you won’t earn elite qualifying miles. Personally, I think I’ll continue to chance it
Always have a story ready. In case of irregular operations, the airline may try to reroute you to your final destination. Have a story ready about why you need to get to that connecting airport. Ex. Meeting my husband to get important documents
Don’t try this with kids. I would only do this when flying alone. By myself, if I get stranded somewhere I didn’t mean to be, I can deal with it. I think it would be much harder to deal with if an entire family was traveling together
Try it with miles. The techniques presented here can work just as well with airline awards, but it can be a bit harder to find those opportunities. Airlines that tie award prices to ticket prices, though, are pretty easy. If you see a hidden city opportunity with Southwest or JetBlue, for example, you will probably find that you can get similar savings by booking that route with miles
If you find yourself at the gate on a skiplag ticket, please act normal. Please post if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer.