Flight loophole - slash the price of your flight in half
Did you know that there is a sneaky trick to knock 50% off the cost of your flights? It’s called hidden city ticketing - which is completely legal, but airlines are not happy with you doing it at all.
We’ve done it (and a lot of our friends have too) - so it does work. The last trip we went on, we were quoted £630 on the Virgin website for a return, direct flight from London to NYC. With this trick, we got the SAME flight, but for £230 return.
What is Hidden City Ticketing?
It’s something Americans know all about and have been doing for years, but the British public have been kept in the dark about it.
Airlines will often offer cut-price fares to attract holidaymakers to cheaper airports (and less touristy places) but sometimes fly through these more expensive popular hubs.
Hidden City Ticketing, is the practice of ditching the last part of the flight, and leaving the airport at the most expensive place.
Back to our New York flight. We booked our flight from London, to New York, then back to London, with the final destination being Oslo. We ditched the Oslo bit, took hand luggage (or your suitcase would end up in Oslo), so the trip was just London to NYC return.
So the airline saw it as London - Oslo, rather than London - NYC return, which is an expensive and popular flight.
How do I find one of these flights?
Getting a bargain flight isn’t a quick thing. You’ll need to be flexible and it involves a bit of playing about on airline websites. Ten minutes on Skyscanner found us a massive 19% discount on a return trip to China.
- Start off with the airport you want to fly from in Skyscanner.
- Pick a random destination, ideally somewhere which is a cheap airport hub (it’s research on your end, but some include Moscow, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Oslo, Brussels, Dublin, Singapore, Warsaw.)
- Put in your dates and press the ‘search’ button.
- Make sure you buy one way tickets if you aren’t going to fly from the country you initially booked with (eg. If you have Singapore return flights from the UK and get off at China early - you won’t be able to get back to the UK with those tickets as you aren’t in Singapore). If you don’t make it, the airline could cancel the rest of tickets.
- On the left hand side, untick the ‘direct’ option, and just keep the multiple stop flights.
- Check out where the flights stop. Is it somewhere you want to go?
- Find out how much the flight costs if you went direct to the stop.
- There is often a saving, so it would be cheaper to book the trip with the wrong destination, and get off - than fly direct.
So, from flying from London to Singapore, you stop at Guangzhou China. That trip will cost you £414. If you fly direct from London to China, the cheapest direct flight is £509.
Are you allowed to do this?
Again, this isn’t illegal, but does breach the terms of some airlines T&Cs. Airlines could possibly stop you flying with them in the future, but detection is pretty low if you don’t do it too many times a year with the same carrier. It’s up to you whether you want to take the risk.
This is what American Airlines say:
‘Purchasing a ticket to a point beyond the actual destination and getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical. It is tantamount to switching price tags to obtain a lower price on goods sold at department stores. Passengers who attempt to use hidden city tickets may be denied boarding, have the remainder of their ticket confiscation and may be assessed the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.’
It shouldn’t be an issue to walk out of an airport - as long as you have hand luggage. If you put any luggage in the hold, it will end up at your final destination and may hold up the flight as they won’t like that there is luggage in the hold, but no passenger on the plane.
So if you need a lot of luggage, this loophole may not be for you. You could however, look into getting it posted back to the UK.