I love free sites that make it easy to find deals, Skiplagged.com is one of those. SkipLagged utilizes a hole in airlines’ pricing structures to help save you money.
Skip Lagged is showing you “hidden city” fares that are usually lower than what you would find on other travel sites. Hidden City tickets are tickets that use your layover as your actual destination city.
Example: You want to fly from Phoenix to Atlanta on Saturday 5th for Labor Day. The cheapest non-stop one-way to Atlanta is $148. What SkipLagged does is search all tickets from Phoenix that have layovers in Atlanta, thus getting you to Atlanta. It just so happens that the cheapest flight, with a stop in Atlanta, is a flight to Kansas City (MCI) via Delta Airlines. Kansas City would be your “hidden city” because you are not actually going to take your second flight from Atlanta from Kansas City. This flight to Kansas City with a stop in Atlanta is only $114, that would save you $34. That is a very modest savings, some flights can save you over $250.
Why does this loophole exist? This works at times because airlines know that you will likely pay more for a nonstop flight. They are charging you for convenience when they have the option. Other times a particular airline does not fly directly between two cities so the only way they can compete is by laying you over at one of their hub cities, such as Atlanta. The only airlines that fly nonstop between Phoenix and Kansas City is Southwest and US Airways. In order for Delta to get you to Kansas City they have to connect you through a hub and give you a discount since they know you don’t want to have a layover. That discount for the layover plays into your benefit if the layover city is where you actually WANT TO GO. Welcome, Skiplagged 🙂
Is it illegal or unethical to intentionally not take your last flight?
• Illegal? No, it is by no means illegal to not consume all of a product or service that you paid for.
• Unethical? That is for you to decide. Is it unethical to cut the hood off of a hoodie you bought because the hoodie was cheaper than the similar sweater? Is it unethical to buy a 6 pack of soda that is less money than buying 6 individuals sodas with the intention of only consuming 5 of the sodas? Read: Airlines being investigating by the DOJ for possibly rigging ticket prices
• Do the airlines ‘allow’ this? Some airlines do and some don’t. Southwest Airlines DOES allow hidden city flights. I recently flew from Seattle to Orange County for only 5,000 points. That flight had a stop in Phoenix. The same non stop to Phoenix from Seattle was 25,000 points. So on my flight to “Orange County” I got off the plane in Phoenix and walked out of the airport, easy-as-pie.
Some airlines like United specifically state that you are ‘not allowed’ to use the hidden city “hack”. They state that they could take away your points or ban you, which I haven’t heard of actually happening to anyone. You would have to be doing this every week for months in order for an airline to catch on to you flying with hidden city fares. Flying once or twice a year and “missing” your last flight will not throw up any red flags.
There are a few catches to flying hidden city tickets:
• You need to book one-way flights. You can’t book round trip tickets because you won’t be returning to Phoenix from Kansas City. So you would just book two separate tickets, one there and one back.
• You can’t check bags. Since you are not flying to your “destination city” your bag can’t be checked otherwise it will be flown all the way to Kansas City. Remember, you can carry on a suitcase and a personal item such as a backpack or laptop bag. You could always ship your large suitcase and not have to haul it to the airport if you needed to bring more than carry-ons. If you are saving $100+ on a hidden city flight that more than pays for your bag to be shipped. Checked bags normally cost $25 anyway.
• Under the rare circumstance they may have to change your flight and connect you to a difference city. If the flight to Atlanta was cancelled they may try to stick you on a flight to Salt Lake City to connect onto Kansas City. I have flown somewhere around 100 flights and have never had my connection city changed so this isn’t common. Also, you are welcome to tell the airline that you are happy to wait for the next connecting flight through Atlanta, after-all that is what you paid for.
• Not all cities will provide cheap prices to utilize “hidden city” flights. This hack usually works best if you are actually trying to fly to a major hub airport, IE Atlanta. If you are trying to fly to Amarillo, TX, for example, this hack would almost never work since you probably won’t have a layover in a smaller city like Amarillo.
How to use SkipLagged to find the best deals:
If you want to fly Sacramento to Houston on Labor day weekend the cheapest Non Stop is $626!! That is $626 for a one-way, non stop. That is insanely expensive. You can catch the same “non stop” flight by booking a flight ‘onto Dallas’ for only $136. The first flight is the same flight to Houston leaving at 12:18PM. That is $490 in savings.
You can toggle between hidden city flights and standard flights. Hidden city flights will be shown with a “grayed out” flight (IE: IAH > DFW), that is the connection that you will be intentionally missing.
Same non stop “standard” flight leaving at 12:18PM, $626..
Not sure where you want to fly? Click the ‘globe’ button to discover the cheapest flights from your originating city. This can be a fun way to see new cities for cheap cheap 🙂
Lot’s of one-way flight options from Sacramento for under $100 over Labor Day weekend: