It is no wonder that often people want to save as much as possible, particularly when travelling by air. They try to find the best deals, discounts, promo codes and more that will be easy on the pockets, while also having a comfortable experience throughout their trips. Airline carriers do offer such deals at times, but some people like to work their way around and find things to their advantage. Similarly, one such risk-based method for saving on your travel expenses that we are going to share with you here is called a “hidden city ticketing”.
In this travel guide, we will provide you with an in-depth overview of what hidden city ticket is and how to book one for your trip. Also, we will analyse a few advantages and disadvantages of hidden city ticketing both for airline carriers and consumers.
What is a Hidden City Ticketing?
Generally speaking, the term “hidden city ticketing” is used by airlines to refer to the ticket which a customer purchases, but never plans on arriving at the flight’s final destination city/airport. This usually means booking connecting flight(s) on a cheaper non-stop ticket for a flight whose final destination is beyond yours.
For example, let’s assume that a person is flying from Boston to Oklahoma City and is searching online for flights on this route. Now, when the person searches for the desired flights on an online travel agency’s (OTA) website, such as Kayak or a meta-search engine like Google Flights, the sites will show results that include connecting flights as well.
So, from Boston to Oklahoma City, most results will show flights with connecting flights, or stopovers in other cities, like Chicago or Philadelphia.
However, what that person wants here is to find a flight in which the layover is Oklahoma City, but the flight’s final destination is another city. So, the flight ticket that the person purchases, say from Boston to Los Angeles via Oklahoma City as the layover or stopover, will be called a ‘hidden city ticket’. Here, the person does not intend to arrive at Los Angeles, instead, he/she gets off at Oklahoma City, which is the layover or stopover. This method can also be referred to a point (destination city) beyond ticketing.
What are the Good and Bad Effects of Hidden City Ticketing for Airlines and Customers?
Purchasing a hidden city ticket for flights that fly beyond your intended destination can often lead to unpleasant consequences.
When you avoided or skip a flight, the airline carrier can legally cancel all subsequent flights which you have booked on the same ticket. If this happens, you will be considered a no-show.
Thus, when you become a no show, your airline carrier has the obligation to cancel the remainder itinerary of your ticket. This implies that you will have to either book a one-way ticket or plan to skip a leg when returning home on a round-trip flight.
It’s uncommon however, sometimes, airline carriers do change their flight routes. So, if your layover city is actually the destination that you intend to visit, and the connecting city changes, you will need to contact the airline carrier to have you shifted to another flight whose route is through your destination city. Keep in mind, you can’t tell the airline about your intention of getting off at the layover city. However, you can request an alternate flight and tell the carrier that the new schedule does not work with you, so you want to be put on that flight which just so ends up flying to the route through your intended destination and beyond.
There is a far off possibility you may experience lawful issues or face repercussions from the airline carriers, which is very likely in the event that you do it frequently. Likewise, there is also the likelihood that your actions could cause annoyance for other travellers. For instance, the flight that you skipped may have been delayed and the other passengers are not happy about it since they have been waiting for their flight.
How to Book a Hidden City Ticket for Your Flight’s Trip?
You can look for flights which also include connecting flights in a specific city, however there will be some experimentation as you sort out which destination should work best.
You may be fortunate enough to find a hidden city ticket as an option when the destination city you need to go to is the airline’s hub. For instance, the hub city of Air France is Paris. So, when the carrier is operating flights, say from the United States to various destinations in France, the city of Paris, which is its hub, is thus, the layover for other connecting flights.
This implies that in the event that you need to go to Paris, yet it is less expensive to book a trip, for instance, to Bordeaux or Nice with a layover in Paris, you can do that and get off in Paris.
In any case, if you wish to fly to Bordeaux, there is no guarantee that you will find a flight to another city that has a layover in Bordeaux.
There are two ways to get a hidden city ticket for flights that serve the routes to your destination city. These include the following:
(a) Purchase a one-way ticket with a stopover, in which the stopover will be your desired destination than the city beyond your ticket.
(b) Alternatively, you can also purchase an open-jaw round-trip ticket for an international flight. However, in this ticket, your return city will be the stopover.
Things to Be Aware of When Booking a Hidden City Ticket for Your Trip
Although the method of booking a hidden city ticket for your trip may help you save some money, but there are things that you must be aware of.
Booking a hidden city ticket is not as simple as booking a standard itinerary. There are a couple of reasons to it. These are:
- The airline carrier you booked your flight ticket with will assume that you are flying to the final destination that is on your ticket, unless you inform the carrier beforehand.
- There is a chance that your ticket will get cancelled immediately if you do not inform your carrier about your intended destination.
- When you check in bags at the airport, your checked baggage will be transported and delivered at the airport of the flight’s final destination, instead of your layover destination.
At the point when you have a longer layover, you might have the option to have your baggage short-checked. This means your baggage will just be checked to your layover point, not the final destination of the flight’s route.
Also, keep in mind that travel policies of airline carriers can differ significantly on this. Therefore, you should check with your airline carrier with regard to the policies for your particular trip to ensure it’s permitted.
Also, when you are entering into certain nations, including the US, from abroad, you will need to collect your baggage and pass through customs. The customs counter is usually located at your first point of entry after arriving at the airport.
Thus, you can check your baggage on the trip to the US, but keep in mind not to re-check your baggage after clearing customs.
In order to minimise the risk that your baggage is checked at the airport’s gate, be sure to re-check that your bag is not exceeding the size and weight limits for a carry-on and travel with as little luggage as possible. Your bag should fit under your seat. This is additionally when you might need to pay for early boarding to guarantee you are among the first passengers to get access to the overhead bins onboard.
Last, but not the least, do not tell anybody whatever you are purposefully doing. Some individuals also try not to associate their loyalty number with the reservation. It is likely that may be able to get away without any repercussions. However, doing this over and over again will certainly lead to repercussions. The airline carrier will somehow come to know of this heinous practice and can penalise you. Chances are, you could also lose your frequent flyer points.
The probability of an infrequent or casual traveller facing any repercussions for booking a hidden city ticket that is just occasional will not have a major impact. However, the repercussions is bound to happen to somebody who does it constantly and builds up a heinous example of hidden city ticketing.
While there are a few risks to consider, the more serious ones to actually be concerned about are that you will need to check in baggage or that your flight’s route may suddenly change. But, in the event that these risks don’t bother you, then you could save significantly by booking a hidden city ticket.