Change Your Altitude

‘Hidden City Flights’ – What Are They and How Can you Avail of Them?

The brand new company hopes to help people save up to 80% on their travel plans

The brand new company hopes to help people save up to 80% on their travel plans

So through our friends at Lonely Planet we’ve just learned about a potentially very valuable – read, life changing – tip to save up to 80% on flight options, through new website Skiplagged.

The idea of ‘hidden city flights’ is a well known travel industry hack amongst airline professionals (and highly discouraged by airlines, which might be a good sign that it works), but it does need some definition and how best to use them otherwise you might find yourself in a bind stuck at an airport. There are also ways to maximize the efficiency of how to use them, which is exactly what this new website does and amalgamates making our lives much easier.

First off, this is what Lonely Planet defines as hidden city flights:

 At its simplest, it means that a traveller would book a ticket from say New York to Seattle, which includes a connection in San Francisco. However, instead of travelling all the way to Seattle – they would simply leave the flight in San Francisco, which had been their intended destination all along.

So at the base of this concept is that non-stop flights are always more expensive than one stop options for the obvious reason of conveinece – no matter what walk of life, we’ll always have to pay for it. So on a route such as JFK to Seattle, Alaska or Delta will charge a nice solid premium over an airline such as, say Virgin America or Southwest who if you book with them will route you through one of their respective hubs rather than the non-stop options on AS and DL.

An example of how the service works.

An example of how the service works.

But it can sometimes be a bit of a chore to pour over all the options available to you especially because you wouldn’t be going through the entire itinerary to your supposed ‘final’ destination. Skiplagged’s Tamzum Nahar says:

Our unique algorithm shows the cheapest regular flights and hidden city flights faster than any other site. Hidden city flights refer to itineraries with multiple legs where the traveler exists prior to the final destination.

Given the kind of unconventional deal or itinerary we might flying on if we were to avail of this service, Skiplagged does warn to take note of several things that might not occur to those of us who are used to the more traditional way of flying. Here are some of their tips/warnings:

  • Don’t check bags — If you check bags, they’ll end up at the final destination. Carry-ons are fine, but get there a bit early to ensure cabin space.
  • Bring your passport for international flights (even if you’re not going all the way to the final destination). Some carriers require a passport to board the plane.
  • You may need a visa for international flights. This depends on the country that’s the final destination. In some cases all you need is a passport, but you may also need a visa for some countries.
  • Don’t associate a frequent flyer account — If you do, the airline might invalidate any miles you’ve accrued with them.
  • Some airlines may require proof of a return ticket during check-in. If this happens to you, just buy a regular return ticket and cancel it within 24 hours of purchase.
  • In rare times of irregular operations such as bad weather, your itinerary may change at the discretion of the airline (2% chance).
  • You might upset the airline.

So that point about miles is critical – it’s probably not a good idea to risk losing your elite status or membership over a few hundred or even thousand miles – and yes, it does make sense that airlines, who already don’t like the concept of doing this, will track and check for people who tend to ‘miss’ their connections and never re-book. So for those of you who like to amass frequent flier miles at any opportunity, this might be a deal breaker for you.

But then again, sometimes you just really need a cheap flight, especially last minute. Or even those of us who maybe spy a three day weekend coming up, or just are bored at home and have some time – head over to the site and see what deals are up on the cheap and off you go! So there is room for this service.

If things do end up going south though, keep in mind, as Skiplagged’s website says:

We only show flight prices, but we don’t actually book them. If you’re having trouble with a flight you’ve already booked:

  • If you booked a flight directly with an airline, try talking to the airline directly. (Just don’t mention hidden-city ticketing or they might not help you!)
  • If you booked a flight through one of our partners, try talking to them.

I for one would like to try out the service just for the heck of it, and maybe in a bind would return back and see what’s out there. But on a consistent basis those frequent flier miles are like catnip to me and I’ll always come back for more so I’m sticking to the traditional ways of booking tickets. Catnip is probably a good analogy on this one – some cats go crazy about it, others avoid it like the plague. So how about you…is your catnip frequent flier miles and elite status or cheap (and we’re talking cheap) flights?

Check out their website and you tell us:

  • Joey
    Posted at 11:08h, 24 October

    If I can’t earn miles or use any benefits associated with my status, I’ll probably skip doing this 🙂