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Skiplagging & Hidden City Ticketing

Skiplagging & Hidden City Tickets: How to Do It and Why You Probably Shouldn’t

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
6 minutes read
Last Updated: June 19, 2024
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"I used Skiplagged and saved over $300 on a round trip from NYC to Chicago. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but totally worth it for the savings!" - Reddit user, TravelHacker101

We all want to save money on flights, and beyond budget airfare and collecting points for cheaper or free tickets, some cunning passengers have figured out another way of getting cheaper fares. Their method is known as skiplagging. 

Skiplagging is a clever tactic to be sure, but if you do it, you risk getting into heaps of trouble with the airline. But, according to The Traveller, passengers can save up to 30-50% on airfare by skiplagging. So keep reading to learn what this practice is all about, and why you should probably be very careful if you want to try it yourself.

What is Skiplagging

Skiplagging, also known as hidden-city ticketing, is a money-saving method of air travel. Passengers do this by buying a flight to a destination and including a layover in the city where they actually plan on stopping. Instead of completing their itinerary to the final destination, they instead end their air travel at the layover point. 

While doing this can save you a bundle, it can lead to some blowback from the airline if you get caught. So, it is best to grasp the subtleties of skiplagging in addition to its implications and risks if you’re thinking about embracing this practice to save money.

An Example of Skiplagging

If this isn’t making sense, don’t worry. It can be confusing at first, but here’s how it works.

Say you want to go from Toronto to New York. You can get a direct flight easily enough, but it’s pretty expensive. However, if you book a flight from Toronto to Atlanta with a layover in New York, your flight becomes considerably less expensive since it has a connection. 

So, you book this less expensive itinerary and board your flight, but when you get to New York you stay there instead of continuing on to Atlanta. In short, you skip the final leg of your flight.

Passenger at the gate

Why Airlines Hate Skiplagging

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"Saved $250 on a trip to Miami by skiplagging. No issues so far, but I’m careful not to do it too often." - Reddit user, SavvyTraveler

While the practice isn’t illegal, skiplagging is usually a violation of the terms or contract of carriage adopted by most carriers. However, it is true that when you purchase a ticket, you potentially do have the right to use only part of it in the same way that you might only visit some of the attractions that are part of an all inclusive vacation. Similarly, if you bought a full course meal, you have the choice to skip whatever parts you don’t feel like eating.

With skiplagging, airlines get upset mainly because they could have charged more for the seat you left unoccupied. This is because direct flights are generally more expensive than those with connections. On the other hand, many seasoned travelers wonder why skiplagging is such an issue when most airlines have a regular practice of overselling flights. Furthermore, the carrier’s contract of carriage is usually more in the favor of the airline than the passenger.

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The Pros and Cons of Skiplagging

Let’s look at what you stand to gain as a passenger as well as the potential drawbacks of skiplagging.

The Benefits of Hidden City Tickets

As we mentioned, the upside of hidden city tickets is the cost savings. Beyond the financial benefit, and if you have a more flexible schedule, the practice lets you make good use of cheap flights with unattractive layovers.

The Drawbacks of Hidden City Tickets

Getting Caught: If the airline discovers that you’re skiplagging or planning to, they can slap passengers with various penalties that can be anything from taking away your earned miles to canceling your booking, or even ban you from using the airline temporarily or permanently. On top of that, you can also be charged as much as $2,500 in fees if you’re a repeat offender.

No Checked Baggage: Because you plan to end your travel itinerary early, you can’t check your baggage as it will be delivered to the final destination on your booking. So, if you plan to skiplag, only bring a carry-on.

Vulnerable to Airline Changes: If the carrier has to change the airport for your connection, your skiplagging plans will quickly be upended. Basically, you’ll end up somewhere completely different from what you’d planned.

No Round-Trip Tickets: As you might imagine, round-trip itineraries are not possible for skiplaggers as the remainder of your itinerary will be canceled once you miss the last leg of your journey. So you will always have to book one-way tickets.

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How to Find Cheap Airfare

If you’re adamant about trying hidden city ticketing, you can try looking at skiplagged.com. You can also try to cobble your trip together on your own by searching for cheap flights with layovers on your own. 

You can also try some of the more traditional methods of saving money on airline tickets by planning your trip with flexible dates. Some days and times are better than others when it comes to saving money, so check Google Flights and Skyscanner for the cheapest days to fly.

Budget and ultra low cost airlines like easyJet, Spirit, and Frontier are also a good way to save, especially if you don’t mind the bare-bones aspect of these carriers.

Lastly, you can hunt for cheap tickets on sites like Kayak that can provide loads of last minute deals and hefty discounts especially if you have some flexibility in your travel arrangements.

Weighing the Rewards and Risks

So, the big question remains: Is skiplagging worth it? Well, it does offer an interesting method for saving money on flights, and if you do get caught, the penalties can make the $200 you saved look like nothing more than a bad decision. The other issue is the ethical implications of doing it. 

If you haven’t boarded your connecting flight, the airline will page you and potentially delay departure by waiting for you to make it to the gate. So, while it might seem like you’re getting away with something clever with the airline, skiplagging may actually cause innocent passengers to pay the cost with unnecessary delays. It really comes down to whether or not your conscience will be okay with it. 

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People Also Asked

How do airlines know when you’re skiplagging?

Usually, carriers will catch up to skiplaggers when they have repeatedly used this method to save money. They can track how many times you’ve missed connecting flights and measure it against their databases to see if the missed connection was really due to a prior delay or cancellation.

Can you skiplag on international flights?

Yes, you can skiplag on domestic and international flights, but again be aware that you cannot check your baggage if you do this, and you must pay attention to passport and visa requirements as you normally would.

Will travel insurance cover the cost of problems that arise from skiplagging?

Probably not as you’re violating the airline’s contract of carriage by engaging in hidden city ticketing.

 

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