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Hidden city airfare or ticketing
We all probably heard about Skiplagged website news. In a few word: Orbitz and United sued skiplagged.com over finding hidden city airfares and cheap tickets, which is definitely not profitable for airlines and travel aggregators.
So, what is it?
Hidden city ticketing works by encouraging travelers to book airfare from their point of origin through their destination and to a “hidden city” for a cheaper price tag.
Lets imagine you want to go from city A to city B. The price tag for this flight is $500. But if you search for the route city A to city B and to city C – price tag $300. And you, basically, never fly from city B to city C.
How to find hidden city airfare?
www.airfareiq.com has provided very informative description.
Step by step guide
- STEP ONE: Go to http://matrix.itasoftware.com or google.com/flights
- STEP TWO: Click the “one-way” tab. (This technique does NOT work for round trip tickets…)
- STEP THREE: Click the “Advance Routing Codes” link (below the “Departing From” and “Destination” windows).
- STEP FOUR: You should now have 3 boxes to fill: Departing From, Outbound Routing Code, and Destination. Enter your departing city in the first box, and your desired destination airport codein the Outbound Routing box. THIS MUST BE THE 3-LETTER AIRPORT CODE, not the actual city name. To find your airport code, simply Google “airport code for (city or airport name)”.
- STEP FIVE: Here’s the secret part. In the Destination box (the 3rd of the 3 boxes), enter the following data (you can copy/paste it): EYW, LAX, SAN, PHX, SLC, DEN, ABQ, ELP, MSP, MKE, ORD, OMA, MCI, STL, TUL, OKC, RNO, GDL, MEX, LAS, SMF, SFO, SJC, ONT, BUR, MOD,S AV, PSP, LGB, SNA, OAK, FMY, RSW, DFW, AUS, HOU, IAH, SAT, IND, DTW, COS, CLE, CMH, LIT, CVG, SDF, BNA, MEM, BHM, MSY, PIT, BUF, SYR, ALB, BOS, BDL, NYC, PHL, BWI, IAD, DCA, GSO, ORF, RIC, RDU, CLT, ATL, JAX, TPA, MCO, FLL, MIA, PVR, SJD, CUN, MZT, ACA, YYC, YEG, YHZ, CAK, JAN, MHT, YOW, YYZ, MCN, YUL, YVR, ABE, BGR, BTV, MBJ, SEA, ANC, BLI, PDX, GEG, BOI. These are the airport codes for virtually every commercial airport in the USA, Canada, Mexico; plus a few significant airports in the Caribbean and South and Central America.
- STEP SIX: Enter your departure date.
- STEP SEVEN: Click “search”.
WHAT HAPPENS: The search engine will search all available flights to all those cities in the long list, and return to you in the results all the flights that CONNECT in your desired destination. Look at the “From/To” column, and you’ll see your departure city and the HIDDEN CITY. In the next column (“STOPS”) you should see your desired destination. To get the flight details, either click on the price at the left of the page; or hover your mouse on the right side of the display, which will reveal a “details” link.
Rules of hidden city ticketing
1.You may NOT check any luggage. Not even by paying a fee. This is the airline’s main line of defense, because they will not under any circumstances check your luggage only to the point you want to fly to. Therefore, PACK LIGHT with only carry-on luggage. Make SURE your carry-on luggage meets the airline’s size and weight requirements. And KNOW WHAT TYPE OF AIRCRAFT YOU’LL BE FLYING ON – if it’s one of the smaller “commuter”-type jets or turbo-props with limited overhead storage space (any aircraft not made by Boeing or Airbus), the airlines may restrict you to JUST ONE bag (your “personal item” like a purse or laptop case).
2.ONLY BOOK YOUR HIDDEN CITY TICKET THROUGH THE AIRLINE WEBSITE. If you book your ticket through a “typical” travel agency, then only use the first part, the airline will possibly bill the agency for the amount of money you saved. This is a bill they can not deny paying…if they don’t pay it, the airline will prohibit the agency from further ticketing on that airline (and you’ll never be able to buy a ticket from that agency again). Travel agencies have been screwed by the airlines enough…they don’t need your help in letting them get screwed some more. By booking through the airline website, the airline has no recourse.
3.NEVER SUBMIT YOUR FREQUENT FLYER NUMBER with a hidden city ticket. Closing your account and revoking your miles is a tactic the airlines have, at times, tried to use to retaliate against frequent hidden city ticket users. While it’s never been legally successful for the airlines when a customer has the time, money, and legal guts to challenge, considering the money you’re saving and the paltry value of those miles anyway, it’s best just to not give the airline a way to track your use of hidden-city fares, especially if you use them frequently.
4.BE PREPARED FOR FLIGHT IRREGULARITIES. If you are ticketed to fly from Los Angeles to Minneapolis and onward to Columbus (but are only planning on flying as far as Minneapolis), you may find the airline to be exceptionally (and detrimentally) efficient when your L.A. – Minneapolis flight is cancelled due to weather or whatever other reason. Before even asking you, they may have re-booked you on a flight to Columbus via their other hub in Atlanta or Detroit, or even re-booked you on another airline whose flight to Columbus doesn’t come near Minneapolis. When this occurs, you must inform an agent that you booked this flight specifically because of the change of planes in Minneapolis so you could meet somebody (which is TRUE, assuming you are not going to Minneapolis to be completely alone and never see ANYBODY), and POLITELY insist that your new flight take you through Minneapolis on your way to Columbus. If you have prepared, you might also tell them that if you didn’t need to go through Minneapolis, you would have booked another airline or route. They may offer to put you on the next flight to Minneapolis even if the next connecting flight to Columbus is not until the next day…if so, just let them know that’s okay, you can stay with family or friends in Minneapolis (or the airline may offer to put you up in a hotel in Minneapolis for the night!). Again, the key here is to be insistently polite and politely insistent.
5.Only book your hidden city tickets as ONE-WAY tickets, especially if you traveling on the same airline in both directions (which you should attempt to avoid). If you are, as is most likely, traveling round-trip, then book two separate tickets. This is because as soon as you “miss” your first connecting flight, the airline will automatically cancel the rest of your ticket’s reservations. In most cases, you would need to do this anyway, as when you return home, you’ll be departing from a different city than the one you were originally ticketed for, but in any case know that you can never begin your trip by “missing” the FIRST leg of a ticketed flight. You must always complete your DESIRED travel before “missing” any flights.
And more information you can find at www.airfareiq.com.
H/T: Miles for Trips