Some have entire theories on how to scan multiple flight aggregators to catch that fleeting price drop while others swear that booking on a Sunday and traveling on a Wednesday is the way to go.
Another booking strategy is to buy a ticket to another destination with a layover in the city one actually wants. As ticket pricing relies on a convoluted model based on demand and spreading passengers between different airports, this technique can sometimes be cheaper than the layover the airline offers or — the most expensive option of all — a direct flight.
Hidden-City Trick Prompts Canceled Ticket, Interrogation
While some flyers have been relying on this trick for decades, recent years have increasingly seen the name for it shift from “hidden-city ticketing” to “skiplagging” after the popular website that many use to find such tickets.
As it causes unfilled flights for the airline, the practice is severely frowned-upon and often outright banned — a teenager traveling from Gainesville, FL to New York City with a layover in North Carolina’s Charlotte ran into trouble when an American Airlines (AAL) – Get Free Report employee suspected that he was not planning to board the flight to his final destination.
As first reported by a local Queens borough news station, Logan Parsons was escorted into a separate room to answer questions about his intentions after the check-in agent saw his North Carolina driver’s license.
“Interrogated a little bit, ultimately taken to a security room,” the teen’s father Hunter Parsons told Queens City News. “They kind of got out of him that he was planning to disboard in Charlotte and not going to make the connecting flight.”
After admitting that he was hoping to leave the airport in North Carolina, the airline canceled Logan’s ticket. It was his first time flying alone and his family then bought him a direct flight to Charlotte.
What Is Skiplagging?
American Airlines was one of the airlines that explicitly banned skiplagging (Lufthansa (DLAKF) – Get Free Report once lost a lawsuit trying to do the same). As a result, a spokesperson for the airline has been telling media outlets that “purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares is a violation of American Airlines terms and conditions.”
Hunter Parsons, meanwhile, said that they were not aware of this and had been using the website Skiplagged “almost exclusively for the last five to eight years.”
While failing to make the practice illegal through the courts, airlines have instead been writing a ban against skiplagging into their policies. American Airlines has been particularly strict in this regard and, in April 2020, booted a passenger who skiplagged 95 flights off of its AAdvantage frequent flyer program.
As such, travelers who rely on this strategy always run the risk of having their ticket canceled or even banned from the airline. But the airline’s strict crackdown on teenage Logan has also caused a small outrage among passengers growing frustration against ticket prices and airlines’ abuse of demand to keep them high.