Ever heard of hidden city ticketing? Yeah, I hadn’t either. (If you have, pretend I said “I only learned about it recently!” 🙂) Apparently, it’s been around for a while, but Skiplagged created a hidden city fare finder to make it easy for everyone. It’s when you book a flight with the intention of staying at a “hidden city,” or layover, instead of the ticket’s destination. Airlines don’t charge you based on distance, but on a bunch of math that tells them the ideal prices for maximum profit. Which makes sense for them, but not really for us. Why pay $421 for a round trip from Atlanta to Toronto when there’s a $246 ticket from Atlanta to Halifax that happens to stop in Toronto?
There are actually a few reasons not to. While Skiplagged is one way to save money on flights, there are a few other methods that you won’t be able to use if do you decide to go with Skiplagged. Also, airlines aren’t really a fan, for obvious reasons. United even sued them. And lost! But since you can’t ignore the potential savings, weigh the pros and cons and see if it’s right for you!
The differences in cost can be significant. Up to 50%, according to their site. Even if you use sites that compare different sites to find the best prices, you just can’t compare it to Skiplagged’s rates. For example, the above Atlanta to Toronto example is real. That’s almost $200 in savings for the same dates.
I haven’t used this, but they also show hotel deals as well. If you try it out, be sure to let me know how it goes!
Easy To Use
Their site and app are as easy to use as any other flight-booking site or app. You just enter where you’re flying from, enter your dates, round-trip or one-way, and your destination (if you have one in mind). Once you pick the routes you’re interested in, they’ll show you step-by-step instructions and all of their warnings. Basically, click on the link they give you and book the flight. I’ve booked my flight through the app before, but this isn’t always an option.
Shows “Normal” Flights
They show “normal” tickets along with Skiplagged rates. This means you don’t have to check more than one site to see all your options. I still do, just in case, but I haven’t seen anyone show a cheaper price for any of my trips. If you’re still not sure about the method and don’t want to risk the consequences, you can still use Skiplagged to find cheap flights.
If your dates are flexible, you can use the charts to see the best dates to leave and arrive. This is great in the initial planning stages when you don’t really know or care about the time frame and just want the cheapest flights available. It’s a very visible indicator of what dates to book for the best prices.
Don’t really care where your next vacation is? Fill out everything but the destination and find the cheapest places to go! This is pretty fun for ideas or spontaneous trips.
No Checked Bags
They let you know whether you’re booking a regular or hidden city flight. If it’s a regular flight, you’re good. But if it’s not, be sure not to check any bags. Otherwise, your bags will end up in Halifax instead of Toronto. And in case the airline forces to check your bags at the gate, be sure to pack light! I’ve seen a man in front of me forced to check a bag full of gifts because they ran out of cabin space, even though he had paid extra for the privilege. Luckily, I knew to pack light and had a backpack that fit under the seat in front of me.
No Frequent Flyer Miles
You can’t use your frequent flyer miles or get points for a Skiplagged flight because it’s against their terms of service. If you forget or don’t do it often, it’s possible they won’t really care. But if they catch you, you can lose all of your points. Since they’re allowed to take away your points for whatever reason, I would err on the side of caution. If you buy a hidden city ticket, just don’t enter your account number.
Random Flight Changes
Once in a blue moon (or 2% of the time, according to them), your flight itinerary can change due to bad weather or whatever. If this happens, your layovers could be through Charlotte or Orlando instead of where you really want to be, Toronto. Which means you’ll have to figure out a way to get where you need to be, which probably means you’ll need to pay for another ticket. Again, pretty rare. But still something to think about.
Not Available For All Cities
This makes sense and probably won’t matter much for most people. Since your goal is to get a cheaper flight by getting off at a layover, it tends to work better when your target is a common layover stop, like San Francisco. But again, Skiplagged shows you other options as well.
You’re “That Guy”
You’re the one that everyone’s waiting for. Except you have no intention of showing up. This happens all the time, but you know that you’re the reason a flight is being delayed while you’re off having fun in Toronto. Then again, airlines regularly overbook flights anyways, so you can think of it as making room for another person… 🙂
I love it. People have been doing it for years, but Skiplagged makes it easy and accessible for everyone. It makes sense to take advantage of the way ticketing works as long as you’re careful, willing to pack light, and ready to face potential consequences. To book your flight with Skiplagged, visit skiplagged.com. If the risks for using this layover flight hack just don’t seem worth the benefits, check out my review of The Travel Hacker’s Toolkit for tips and resources to book cheaper flights.