The cost of an airline ticket can fluctuate depending on the day of the week, time of year, and even the weather. So when we want to take a trip, it’s important to keep an eye on prices to find deals.
Skiplagged is a new website that makes this process easier by uncovering hidden airplane fares that other travelers miss—by searching for flights with intermediate stops. Hidden city airfares are cheaper airfares within larger journeys. The plane flies from one city to another but stops at a third city along the way and picks up passengers there before continuing on its original journey.
For example, you might find a cheap ticket from New York City to Boston that leaves at 6 p.m., stops in Hartford, and arrives in Boston at 7 p.m.—but if you’re willing to leave earlier (and pay more), there’s also a 7 a.m. nonstop from New York City to Hartford with a connecting flight onward to Boston that leaves at 9:30 p.m., all for less than the direct flight would cost separately.
How Hidden City Flights Work
Hidden city tickets are legal, as airlines don’t explicitly prohibit the practice, but they do often discourage it by not showing the hidden city on their tickets or booking confirmation.
When we see a flight we want, we can check if there are other destinations on the same flight by putting the information into a flight search engine. If there are hidden city flights available, the search results will show nearby airports but won’t indicate the stop.
For example, if we want to fly from New York City to Boston and find a really cheap direct flight, we can search for flights from New York to Hartford, and then another flight from Hartford to Boston. But if we also want to visit Hartford, we can use Skiplagged to find hidden city flights from New York to Hartford and then from Hartford to Boston.
Finding Cheap Flights with Skiplagged
Skiplagged makes finding hidden city flights even easier. When you enter your source and destination, click on “advanced” and select “hidden city” from the drop-down menu. If there are flights that meet the criteria, Skiplagged will show you what they are and how much they cost.
To get the best prices, try booking flights one month in advance or looking for deals when the weather is bad and airlines are trying to fill seats to stay profitable. If you want to try out Skiplagged, consider signing up for their email list so you can get notifications when fares drop.
If you’re worried about getting caught, know that airlines don’t actively monitor their flights for hidden city ticketing, so it’s unlikely they’ll ever find out unless a customer informs them or they see it themselves. Even if they do find out, though, they might not take action. American Airlines, for example, has a policy against hidden city ticketing but rarely penalizes customers who do it.
Is Skiplagged Legit?
Skiplagged has been around for a few years now and has always operated within legal guidelines. The site gained a lot of attention in 2014 when it started advertising its services, leading a lot of people to wonder if it was legal.
But the practice is actually legal, as long as you’re not booking a ticket under someone else’s name. And while airlines don’t explicitly encourage hidden city ticketing, they also don’t have any way to shut down sites like Skiplagged unless they can prove someone is buying tickets fraudulently.
So as long as you aren’t booking under someone else’s name, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Downsides of Using Skiplagged
Skiplagged isn’t always the best tool for finding flights, especially if you have specific dates or connections in mind. Once you select hidden city flights from Skiplagged, you have to stick to whatever dates and times it finds for you.
So if you have a specific trip in mind, you might find that Skiplagged isn’t helpful—especially if you want to visit multiple places. Skiplagged is also not the best choice if you’re flying internationally.
While hidden city ticketing is legal in the U.S., it’s illegal in many other countries. Skiplagged only shows domestic flights within the U.S., so it’s not an option if you’re flying overseas.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that hidden city flights are a great way to save money. But you have to be willing to be flexible with your travel dates, timing, and even destinations. It’s important to know that airline employees might not know about hidden city flights, so if you’re worried about getting caught, book direct. And airlines might eventually catch on to hidden city ticketing and start discouraging it. In that case, it’s best to enjoy the savings while you can.