The Biggest Secret in Travel: Hidden City Ticketing
My travel hacking senses started tingling a week ago when I read about Orbitz and United Airlines suing a small travel website for saving people money. What was this site, and why would it be such a big deal for those companies?
Some of you may have seen an article or two over the last month about the suit, which is being brought against Skiplagged.com. Basically, the site has made it easier for you, the traveler, to discover when it is cheaper to travel from Point A to Point B by booking a flight from Point A to Point C, stopping over at Point B. Then, when you arrive at Point B, you leave the airport, ditching your seat for the connecting flight.
Using Skiplagged takes some adjustments to your travel: since you're not going all the way to your final destination, you can't check a bag. Plus, since an airline could cancel your itinerary after you miss a flight, one-ways are your only way to book.
Also, there are some risks- the airline could freeze your frequent flyer miles if they catch on to your flying habits, or ban you from flying completely. This is because the airline could have booked you at a higher fare to your destination, and some other non-assuming traveler on the flight you skipped. Other less menacing consequences: gate-checking a bag on a smaller aircraft, which would mean it going to your reservation's final destination, and weather delays could also re-route you to another city on the way to your fake final destination.
Is it illegal? I am not a lawyer, but in my mind, no. But, the airlines do have this pesky "Contract of Carriage" wordage that does allow them to disbar you from traveling the way they say you should (like not going to your final destination).
I didn't use Skiplagged to try this trick, but I did use this to travel to Denver one year. I booked a flight to Colorado Springs with a connecting flight in Denver, and simply walked out the airport when I arrived, saving about $100. There are real savings to using this method, but, as detailed above, there are some risks involved.