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For One-Way Flights, Don’t Forget About Hidden Cities (Even Though Airlines Want You To)

Hidden city ticketing is an old trick, but I’ve just found it to be useful for me so I thought I’d just put up a quick reminder.

For those who don’t know, a hidden city ticket is when you buy a one-way ticket with a connection but you get off the plane at the connecting point rather than at the end destination. Why would you do this? Take this example:

A one-way ticket from New York to Minneapolis on Delta is $475 for a flight on November 9th. A one-way ticket from New York to Chicago Midway THROUGH Minneapolis is $104. You see why this can be interesting.

This works well with Delta because they have ridiculous one-way fares to Cincinnati and Minneapolis, but they have to match airlines offering low fares to connecting points which Delta serves THROUGH those cities.

It’s not just Delta, though. New York to Houston one-way on United is $791. However, if I book a one-way flight to Denver THROUGH Houston it’s $142.

The two big caveats: First, you can’t check a bag or that bag will be in Chicago when you are in Minneapolis. Second, DO NOT collect frequent flyer miles. The airlines really, really don’t like you doing this as they consider it a breach of contract. Don’t be greedy.

Again, this isn’t news but I was struck during a search yesterday how huge the difference can be. Something to keep in mind the next time you are booking a one-way flight.

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  1. Let me suggest a third caveat; if your flight is cancelled and the only choice is to reroute you on a competitor who flies non stop to your fictional final destination, then you might have a problem.

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