Skiplagging: The Controversial Travel Hack Airlines Despise

Skiplagging, also known as “hidden-city ticketing,” is a travel hack that has been banned by airlines, but that hasn’t stopped some gutsy fliers from using it. This practice involves booking a trip with the intention of getting off at a layover city and discarding the last leg or legs of a flight.

For instance, if you want to fly from New York to Miami, and direct flights are expensive, you might book a flight from New York to Miami with a connection in Orlando. The trick is to disembark at Miami and not continue to Orlando. This might seem counterintuitive, but airlines often price flights with a connection at a lower rate than direct flights because the latter are usually in higher demand.

However, airlines view skiplagging as a form of fraud. Not only do passengers underpay, potentially saving hundreds of dollars per ticket, but the seat on the discarded leg could have been sold to someone else. As a result, most contracts of carriage from major airlines expressly forbid skiplagging. If an airline catches you trying to skiplag, they could cancel your whole itinerary, rescind your frequent flier miles and memberships, or even sue you.

Airlines are becoming increasingly sophisticated in detecting skiplagging. Yet, it remains a somewhat sticky subject in travel as it can be difficult to prove a passenger’s true travel intentions. Despite this, some travelers continue to skiplag, and there are even resources dedicated to helping them do it, such as, which helped popularize the practice when it launched in 2013.

However, skiplagging comes with its own set of logistical headaches. For instance, airlines will cancel your return flight if you’re a ‘no show’ for any segment of a booked itinerary. If there’s a schedule change, or if a flight is delayed or rerouted, your entire skiplagging plan could be jeopardized. Furthermore, if you’re last to board and they make you check your carry-on, your bag will end up in the wrong city.

A real-world example of the consequences of skiplagging was experienced by a teenager named Logan Parsons. During his first solo flight, he was pulled aside by security and had his journey home cancelled. He was traveling home to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Gainesville, Florida. His ticket, however, showed his final destination as New York City. The plan was to disembark at Charlotte during the layover and head home.

Parsons was discovered by a gate agent who became suspicious when all his identification documents showed Charlotte as his home. His father, Hunter Parsons, was surprised by the incident, stating that they had been using skiplagging for the last five to eight years without any issues. The family was unaware that ‘hidden city ticketing’, another term for skiplagging, was not well-received in the airline industry.

As a result of the incident, an American Airlines representative canceled the teenager’s ticket and the family had to purchase a new direct flight ticket. The Parsons family felt that the airlines had overreacted, especially considering that the passenger was a minor. American Airlines, however, maintained that skiplagging is a violation of their terms and conditions.

In conclusion, while skiplagging might seem like an attractive way to save money on flights, it’s a practice that airlines take very seriously and are increasingly equipped to detect. The potential consequences, including having your ticket canceled, losing your frequent flier status, or even being sued, make it a risky endeavor. It’s advisable to think twice before attempting to skiplag, as the potential savings may not be worth the potential fallout.