Skiplagging for cheap flights – what it is and what airlines are doing about it

Passengers share what annoys them on a flight

More travellers are flying than ever before, and they’re getting more creative with money-saving airline hacks by exploiting loopholes to get lower-priced flights, such as ‘skiplagging’.

AAA projects that 4.69 million people will travel by plane this Thanksgiving week, a 2.5 percent increase from pre-Covid numbers in 2019.

Skiplagging, also known as hidden-city ticketing or throwaway ticketing, is a booking workaround that saves customers money by issuing tickets with a final destination that they have no intention of visiting – to make the journey cheaper.

For a variety of reasons, some destination cities have higher airfare than others.

To get around this, skiplaggers will take advantage of a lower-priced flight to another far-flung city, but their intended destination is one of the connecting cities, not the plane’s final destination.

“For example, say you wanted to fly from Orlando to New York. You know, see the city, but the price tag is a little bit out of budget. Maybe it’s £119 ($150),” Katy Nastro from explained to The National Desk.

“However, you found a flight from Orlando to Richmond via New York and that’s only £70 ($88), which is a pretty nice savings,” she said.

In this scenario, the passenger is supposed to stay on that flight path and continue on to Richmond – but they never complete the trip. “However you got off in New York and you paid a fraction of the price for that direct flight price, but you bought a connecting flight,” Nastro said.

“So, in essence, it’s basically like you bought a direct flight without the direct flight cost.”

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More and more people have become aware of the tactic thanks to the website – which has the tagline, “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us … but we won”.

But some airlines have reportedly been punishing passengers for skiplagging by canceling flights and depleting their loyalty points and miles.

While it isn’t technically illegal, Nastro said that the fine print of an airline ticket forbids it.

Skiplagging also wouldn’t work for everyone. Nastro said the passenger would have to travel with just a carry-on since checked bags will go to the final destination of the flight.

She also hinted that it would only be effective for one-way flights, as skipping the second flight would label the passenger as a no-show with the airline.

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