Is the ‘skiplagging’ airfare hack worth the risk?

It's called "skiplagging," and while it could save you some serious cash -- the airlines frown upon it, and they can even ban you!
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 1:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Some airline passengers are using a money-saving hack called “skiplagging” to score cheaper airfare, but it is a risky move for customers who get caught.

Skiplagging, sometimes called hidden city ticketing, is legal, but many airlines say it is against their policies. “You’re buying a connecting ticket but you’re getting off in the connection b/c the connection city is really where you want to go,” said’s Katy Nasto.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to fly from Phoenix to Philadelphia. For our hypothetical trip, we’ll say that a one-way direct flight costs $250. You search again and find a flight from Phoenix to New York City that has a layover in Philadelphia for $200. You book that cheaper option and skip the second leg of your trip. You just saved $50 and still got to Philly. “Sometimes you’re able to find a better deal when you’re using skiplagging, however it comes with a lot of caveats,” Nastro said. “It is not for the traveler that travels maybe once or twice a year. There are definitely things to be aware of, as well as trying to find that particular city that you’re trying to get to is a little bit of a scavenger hunt when you’re looking online.”

Airlines don’t like this money-saving hack. Most carriers spell it out in their contract of carriage. On American Airlines’ website, the company says “reservations made to exploit or circumvent fare and ticket rules are prohibited. Examples include (but are not limited to) purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares (hidden city ticketing).”

Recently, American Airlines canceled a North Carolina teenager’s flight after employees discovered the teen was planning to ditch the second leg of his itinerary from Florida to New York through Charlotte. The teen’s father told reporters his son was “detained” and questioned by the airline, and his family was forced to purchase a more expensive direct flight. American Airlines told On Your Side that company records show the North Carolina teenager was only questioned at the ticket counter while attempting to check-in for his flight. The airline also said its customer relations team has been in touch with the family to address their concerns.

“While [skiplagging] is not illegal, it can come with a lot of repercussions. For example, if the airline finds out that you are getting off at your connection, they can cancel your ticket all together before you even get into that first flight. They can also strip you of airline loyalty miles,” Nastro said.

If you still want to give it a whirl, there are several things to keep in mind; First, you can’t check a bag because it will end up in what’s supposed to be your final destination. Second, skiplagging only works on one-way itineraries. “If you had purchased a round trip itinerary and got off at that first connection, that second part of your journey, that entire rest of your itinerary gets canceled out because you get counted as a no-show,” Nastro explained.

American Airlines did not answer On Your Side’s questions about how many passengers have been banned for “skiplagging.”

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