Skiplagging… up until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of the term. I actually had to look it up when I saw a post from Samanta Brown about it. It’s been happening for years – has my head been in the sand? Usually, Gary does our flight booking… does he know about it?
But skiplagging is controversial, and many airlines frown upon it – so much so that it can be punishable by miles or status cancellations and even a lifetime ban from the airline.
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What is Skiplagging?
Skiplagging, also known as “hidden city ticketing,” is when an air traveler purchases a ticket for a flight with a layover before the final destination – and departs at the layover airport. On purpose.
How I Heard About Skiplagging
Again, I was reading a great article by Samanta Brown the traveler. She advised It came into the news recently because a teenage boy was banned from American Airlines for three years when he tried to skiplag. Since then, it’s been a hot topic in the travel community. This was in July 2023, did you hear about this? Perhaps because we’re living in Italy it wasn’t publicised much.
Her Facebook post got a lot of attention. Comments keep pouring in but here are just a few that I choose. Of course, I’ve blocked out the names. It amazes me that the comments range from expressing anger with the airlines to complete understanding. Some are willing and do it – some wouldn’t consider it.
Why Would You Even Consider It?
The price of airline tickets has reached an all-time high this year. With costs soaring to unbelievable heights, passengers are desperately searching for cheap flights. People, including us, are just trying to visit family or go on a vacation without taking a bank loan. Remember when you booked a ticket and everything… even the seat, was included in the price?
Is Skiplagging Illegal?
The bottom line is “No,” but it is against most airlines’ “contracts of carriage” or the rules people must follow to fly with the specific airline.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have skiplagging listed first on their list of prohibited booking practices. The airlines define skiplagging, as “purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares.” United Airlines and Delta Air Lines also prohibit skiplagging.
I think this is pretty funny… the last item on Skiplagged.com’s FAQ page on skiplagging reads… “You might upset the airline, so don’t do it often.”
Skiplagging Potential Risks
Potential risks and considerations associated with skiplagging include:
- Cancellation of Subsequent Flights: If you skip a leg of your flight, airlines often have the right to cancel any subsequent flights on your itinerary. This is because your remaining flights might be considered a “no-show” due to your failure to complete the entire journey.
- Luggage Routing: If you check baggage, it might be routed to your ticketed final destination, even if you get off at the layover. This could result in inconvenience and delays while your baggage is rerouted.
- Mileage and Loyalty Programs: Skipping a leg of your flight might affect your eligibility for frequent flyer miles and other loyalty program benefits if caught.
- Legal and Ethical Concerns: Some argue that skiplagging can be considered unethical, as it manipulates fare structures that airlines have put in place.
- Lack of Protection: If you experience delays, cancellations, or other disruptions, airlines would have the right to not offer assistance or compensation for flights that were skipped.
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It’s important to note that airline policies and industry practices can change. You should always check the specific terms and conditions of your ticket for the airline you purchased with. You need to know that using this strategy is a risky practice and might not always result in the savings you expect. Doing this also can come with potential consequences.
If you choose to skiplag, don’t check your bag. If you do, or if you’re forced to check a carry-on bag because there’s no room for it in the overhead bin, your luggage will end up in the final destination on the itinerary, not at the connecting airport where you’ve chosen to end up.
Personally, I think the risk is too high. It’s like us constantly purchasing local train tickets and the conductor never comes by the train car to check them. We often think about how much we could have saved over the years… but we wouldn’t even think about doing it. The risk of paying the fine isn’t worth it.