What is skiplagging? The cheap travel hack that has airlines cracking down
The post-pandemic travel increase has folks in all places trying to jet-set to some far-away locations, however it’s not all the time straightforward or cheap. It appears there are all the time new travel hacks popping up on-line, like tips on how to secure an entire row of airplane seats to yourself or tips on how to get extra legroom on a cramped flight. But no cost-effective travel hack has airlines up in arms greater than the technique often known as “skiplagging”.
Skiplagging, additionally known as “hidden-city” or “throwaway” ticketing, is the observe of reserving a less-expensive flight choice with a layover metropolis with out planning to fly your entire route. Instead, the stopover is the traveller’s meant vacation spot.
The cause so many individuals use this controversial hack is as a result of it’s cheaper to e-book a layover flight than a direct flight.
For instance, a flight from New York to Orlando is perhaps $250 nonstop, however an identical flight from New York to Dallas with a layover in Orlando is perhaps $130. If a passenger wished to fly to Orlando utilizing the “skiplagging” technique, they might get off the airplane on the layover vacation spot in Orlando quite than flying all the way in which to Dallas.
In reality, there’s a whole travel service devoted to this observe referred to as Skiplagged.com, which alerts prospects to hidden-city offers and “exposes loopholes in airfare pricing to save you money.”
Skiplagged works by giving travellers the choice to seek for a route with a hidden-city vacation spot, however the web site notes that hidden-city flights are solely out there on sure routes. If these choices can be found, they are going to seem within the flight search outcomes with the ultimate legs of the journey crossed off and the value marked as “skiplagged rate”.
However, airlines aren’t pleased with this cost-saving technique.
In 2014, United Airlines teamed up with travel website Orbitz to sue Skiplagged CEO Aktarer Zaman. The airline claimed the observe of hidden-city ticketing was “unfair” and “strictly prohibited,” saying that the New Yorker’s web site value the businesses $75,000 in misplaced income. However, the case was thrown out as a result of it was filed in Illinois the place the courtroom didn’t have jurisdiction, as Zaman labored and resided in New York City. Zaman additionally maintained that the observe was “perfectly legal”.
Today, Skiplagged touts their authorized success over the airline firm on their web site, which reads: “We’re so good, United Airlines truly sued us for it.”
Five years later, Lufthansa sued a passenger who did not take the last leg of their ticketed journey. Using throwaway ticketing, the traveller purchased a business-class return ticket from Oslo through Frankfurt to Seattle for round £600. He flew Oslo-Frankfurt-Seattle-Frankfurt however did not board the ultimate leg again to the Norwegian capital.
The German airline claimed the trip should have cost the customer £2,769, and requested him to pay the distinction between that value and his paid fare. However, an preliminary courtroom case dominated within the passenger’s favour.
American Airlines then sent a memo to travel agents in January 2021 warning of the observe. The airline reportedly stated it deliberate to start monitoring skiplagging and that identification of such behaviors might end in “an unfavorable outcome”.
While skiplagging looks as if an economical technique to travel, it comes with many dangers as airlines have cracked down on the observe lately. NerdWallet reported that skiplagged travellers could possibly be confronted with penalties from airlines, corresponding to having loyalty miles taken away or being billed for the ultimate leg of their journey.
Plus, skiplagging solely works when passengers don’t verify their luggage – as checked luggage will find yourself on the ticketed closing vacation spot quite than the layover metropolis.
Booking a hidden-city ticket utilizing the “skiplagging” technique is a preferred means to economize on costly flights. But there are some dangers concerned with throwaway tickets, and passengers who break an airline’s guidelines could find yourself paying excess of they meant.