Hidden City Ticketing Can Save Money, But Should You Do It?


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If you live in a large city that is a hub airline, you could likely benefit from hidden city ticketing. But should you take advantage of it just because it saves you money?

What Is Hidden City Ticketing

Let’s say for example, you want to fly from Los Angeles to Charlotte but the cost is too high. So instead, you book from Los Angeles to Miami with a connection in Charlotte to save money. Instead of going all the way to your “destination” of Miami, you get off at Charlotte and throw away your last segment to Miami.

The airline thinks they are selling you a ticket to Miami and since this route has less competition, or fewer Charlotte hub captive people, they price the routing lower than just the direct flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte.

What Should You Consider

Airlines frown upon hidden city ticket and it can technically be against the contract of carriage with your airline. So be careful if you think this is a foolproof way to save money. Airline miles could be removed or even worse case, theoretically the airline could ban you from flying them. But for those that don’t fly very often or have any loyalty to an airline, do either of these repercussions matter? It depends.

Also, checking bags will send them to your final destination. If you happen to need to “skip” the last segment to any reason, your bags may continue on to your original destination.

Saving Money Example Using Hidden City Ticketing

Let’s continue with the Los Angeles to Charlotte example. Assume you price out a one-way ticket on the US Airways direct flight. For a sample date, this will cost you $570 for the one-way flight.

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Now let’s assume instead a ticket is purchased from Los Angeles to Miami with a connection in Charlotte. That ticket, for the same date and same flight on the same plane, will cost only $186 for the one-way flight.

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The cost savings for these two tickets on the same plane equals a $384 savings.

Bottom Line

Hidden city ticketing can potentially save some flyers a lot of money but it doesn’t come without risk so evaluate whether it makes sense to you or not.

There are many routes where hidden city ticketing will save money. Have you ever considered using hidden city ticketing? Did you end up booking this way and how much money did it save you?

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The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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Comments

  1. (1) Your checked bags will continue to the final destination, not “may”. Thus, one should not do hidden-city ticketing unless they are traveling only with carry-on luggage (and have boarding privileged to ensure that any carry-on luggage will not be gate-checked).

    (2) In the event of IROPS, the airlines only obligation is to get you to final destination. This is a significant risk that you should have mentioned.

    My friend did hidden-city ticket, and saved $400 on the outbound trip (EWR-IAH-XXX). On the return, IAH-EWR-XXX, due to IROPS, he was routed IAH-IAD-XXX, and ended up spending all of the money he saved by having to purchase a one way XXX-EWR ticket, and missed a full day of work.

  2. OW BUF-JFK two days prior was $240. Same flight to JFK but ticket to BOS wad $130. Didn’t use ff no.

  3. The title of this post is “Hidden City Ticketing Can Save Money, But Should You Do It?”, yet the question was not answered. Perhaps a title change would help (something along the lines of “Hidden Ticketing: Pros and Cons”).

  4. Hi Jon – I suggest some of the risks and benefits then mention it is up to you to evaluate the risks. In the end it is up to you to decide.

    So do you use this appoach? If so, when and what did you save?

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