The view from here
"It’s all thanks to a handy website called Skiplagged. This is no standard discount flight website - this is something quite different - and if you haven’t heard of it, this could be the most financially useful article you’ll read this year."
I just booked a flight to a place that I never knew existed, and have no intention of ever visiting.
It saved me hundreds of dollars on a flight I do want to take.
It’s all thanks to a handy website called Skiplagged. This is no standard discount flight website - this is something quite different - and if you haven’t heard of it, this could be the most financially useful article you’ll read this year.
What is skiplagging?
It works like this.
I wanted a flight from A to B, but Air Canada quoted me a little over $500 each way for that route.
So I looked on Skiplagged, which found the exact same flights for just $250 each way.
Instead of looking for flights from A to B, Skiplagged searches flights that go from A to C, and D, and E, and F, and onwards – but all with a stopover in B.
In some cases, the flight from A to C will be significantly cheaper than that of A to B. Skiplagged calls these ‘Hidden City’ flights, and you can find them anywhere that routinely experiences flight stopovers (Australia and NZ tend to have mostly direct flights only, so you won’t find many Hidden City flights there).
So when I catch my flight, I’ll be checking in for travel to C, but when I land in B, I’ll hop off the plane then and there.
Also handy is that Skiplagged will still search for ‘standard’ discount flights as these are sometimes cheaper than Hidden City flights, and you’ll see a simple line graph highlighting the cheapest days to fly if you have some flexibility, making it super easy to find the best deals.
Is it legal? Yes. Do airlines like it? No, they hate it – they have even sued Skiplagged (and lost).
Is it incredibly helpful when you’re trying to see the world? Let’s just say that the amount I saved covered the entire rest of my trip.
What you absolutely must know
Due to this slightly different system, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
Firstly, there’s the issue of checked bags. If you check in with checked baggage, it might fly all the way to your final destination regardless of whether you’re on the plane or not. Or perhaps the airline will realise you never boarded the flight, pull your bag off the plane, and cause general mayhem.
Therefore, Skiplagged is only advisable if you are able to travel with carry-on luggage only. Even then, double check to see if you’re flying on a tiny plane where overhead bins are smaller than usual, which can lead the flight crew to check your bag in for you (free of charge!). If that’s the case, only take a soft-shell bag that you can squash down to size.
There is one way I have found to get around this clause – if your actual destination has a long stopover, you may be able to ask to check a bag and pick it up when you land so you can ‘sleep at a hotel’. I have done this successfully once, but would try to avoid it if possible!
Additionally, if one of your booked flights crosses a border, it’s best to be prepared with your passport and any visas you may need. It will depend on the airport and country as to whether they would let you on the plane without checking these at your first gate, but it’s best to have all the boxes ticked just in case.
Skiplagged also warns that some airlines will require proof of return. I haven’t experienced this myself, but if it happens, book a return flight (or bus etc) and cancel it as soon as you fly.
And finally, don’t tell the airline crew what you’re doing, or use your frequent flyer number for these flights, as repeated skiplagging may flag you in their systems.
A short tale about Skiplagged’s phenomenal service
When I went to actually purchase my ticket, I hit a snag.
Usually, you search on Skiplagged, it finds the flights, then you go to their airline’s website and book your A to C ticket directly. However, when I searched for the specific flight on Air Canada, I couldn’t find it anywhere.
I got in touch with the Skiplagged team, told them the details, and got a reply within an hour.
Unfortunately, they said, the flight had very recently sold out and their website just hadn’t updated yet. There were no more cheap tickets. That said, the team had searched on my behalf, found a single remaining ticket on a completely different discount flight website, and suggested that as a viable alternative.
When they could have simply made their apologies and wished me better luck next time, they went above and beyond and got back to me in time to still grab an awesome deal, and I couldn’t be more grateful or impressed by their service and dedication to helping travellers.
So the longer we can get away with a little skiplagging around the world, the more we can explore – and maybe end up visiting those destinations we book one day after all.
Author - Hayley Clark
Hayley Clark is a Kiwi with a to-do list that reads like a list of countries with trees. A copywriter by night, her days are spent chasing empty powder runs and decent coffees with equal fervour and success in Whistler, Canada.