Another in my series of travel hacks, is how to use Skiplagged for finding cheap domestic flights. If you don’t already know, Skiplagged is a travel app (iPhone & Android) that uses hidden-city ticketing to provide you airfares up to 80% less than regular price. What does hidden-city mean?
The basic idea behind Skiplagged is that it takes advantage of something called “hidden city” fares, where it might be cheaper to book a flight with a connection, and then never actually take the second leg of the trip.
I will use a real life example. My Aunt & Uncle needed to attend a funeral in Minneapolis. Since funerals are short-notice tickets, a flight from CLT (Charlotte)- MSP (Minneapolis) for the next day was well over $600 for a round-trip flight. I used the Skiplagged app to search for one-way flights connecting through MSP no matter if the final destination was Denver or in this case Albany, NY. That flight was $174. I also looked for a return flight from MSP back to CLT for a couple days after the funeral. I found a $125 one-way flight MSP-CLT-MIA (Miami) on American and booked that.
To recap, I found (2) one-way flights on United & American for $174 and $125 respectively, a 50% savings over buying the round-trip next day airfare for $600.
How to Use Skiplagged
- Download the app on your smartphone and choose your destination city and date. Skiplagged will supply you a list of possible flights connecting in that city. Most of the time, you will find a flight that is much cheaper than a round-trip ticket for this city.
- Once you have found your (2) one-way flights – to/from – you will need to book these flights on a travel booking site like Expedia or even the Airlines main booking site. You are looking for the time and flight number on these sites to match what you found on Skiplagged.
- If the flights and prices line up, book each leg of your trip.
- Sit back & relax, because you just saved money.
Things to Remember
- You have to book (2) one-way flights
- Only bring carry-on luggage and under no circumstance, allow your carry-in to be checked.
- Do not use your frequent flier account to earn miles for these flights
- You may be breaking an agreement with the airlines known as contract of carriage, where it could say you can’t miss flights on purpose.
Now, this method isn’t without controversy, United and Orbitz were suing Skiplagged but as of May 2015, the case has been thrown out of court and no fresh suits filed at the time of writing. The good news, my Aunt and Uncle went to Minneapolis and safely returned to Charlotte without any issues.
It remains to be seen if you use services like Skiplagged often enough to get on some airline ‘blacklist’. It’s pretty hard to be banned from an airline. A traveler would have to take advantage and seriously abuse hidden-city ticketing and get spotted doing this. Remember, through consolidation and mergers, airlines have very old, legacy reservation systems and it would be a logistical challenge for them to compile a list of travelers who have ‘missed’ connecting flights and compare that against the millions of new reservations made through hundreds of travel booking sites, travel agents and over the phone. And if they banned you, they would have to ban another reported million or so travelers using Skiplagged on a monthly basis. That is more lost revenue than the $100 you just saved on a flight to LAX.