When a passenger use skiplagging, they are not paying the full fare for the direct flight. It is a travel hack that involves booking a connecting flight but only taking the first leg of the journey. This can save money for the passengers, but how does skiplagging cost airlines money? In this blog, we’ll explain how skiplagging works and why airlines hate skiplagging.
What airline skiplagging means?
Skiplagging is a clever travel strategy that involves booking an airline’s itinerary where the passenger’s layover discreetly becomes the final destination that is why it is also called ‘hidden city ticketing’.
While it may seem a smart way to snag a bargain or save money, airlines strongly oppose it. The concept of skiplagged has actually helped passengers save 50% on their flight itinerary. But it comes with conditions and restrictions.
What is an example of skiplagging?
Let’s say you want to fly from New York City to Los Angeles and the direct flight costs $500. You came across a flight from New York to Las Vegas via Los Angeles, which is significantly cheaper, let’s say $300. Then you would simply get off the plane in Los Angeles and not continue on to Las Vegas.
Please Note – Skip Lagging is not suitable for passengers with checked baggage or traveling with any special musical or sports equipment. The reason is that the luggage is tagged to the final destination.
Single-direction flight journey
Skiplaggung typically works for the one-way flight only. The airline may cancel the return ticket if they realize that the passenger never completed the initial part of the journey, thus making this clever strategy imperfect for round-trip journeys.
Why do airlines hate skiplagging?
Airlines have valid reasons for hating this practice, one of the prime reasons is that many airlines operate on a hub-and-spoke system, routing the flights through central hubs before reaching the final destinations. This system optimizes the passengers’ loads and revenue. This is where passengers need to understand the airline’s perspective and how does skiplagging cost airlines money.
How do airlines lose money on skiplagging?
The major cause how does skiplagging cost airlines money is the loss of revenue and vacant seats. The reasons why airlines hate skiplagging include –
Loss of revenue
The major reason can be comprehended by knowing how does skiplagging cost airlines money. Any passenger that skips the last leg of the flight, affects an airline’s revenue as they miss out on the potential revenue for that portion of the journey, that’s why is skiplagging not allowed
Reduce competition for routes
A 2022 study on Hidden City travel and its impact on airfare by business professors Jaelynn Oh of the University of Utah and Tim Huh of the University of British Columbia sheds light on another aspect of skiplagging and how does skiplagging cost airlines money.
- The study suggests that hidden city ticketing reduces competition for flight routes. Skiplagging limits an airline’s ability to offer lower fares for flights in the connecting city. This, in turn, can hinder price competition in the airline industry.
What is the Southwest Skiplagging Policy Report?
Southwest describes the hidden city ticketing as fictitious, and said it holds the right to cancel the hiden city reservations without notice to the customer and even holds the right to not refund the fare for a refundable ticket. Southwest also added that the customer needs to pay back any amount incurred by the airlines for bag delivery during travel.
In a 2021 court filing, Southwest skiplagging policy report highlighted the problems it faced due to skiplagging –
- When passengers depart at connecting airports instead of the final destination, airline staff, including flight crews and operations personnel, may face challenges in locating these passengers and that is another reason how does skiplagging cost airlines money and time.
These attempts to locate missing passengers can lead to flight delays, affecting not only those passengers but also disrupting the airline’s flight schedule and on-time performance.
Is skiplagging illegal?
Skiplagging is not illegal, but it does contradict the condition of carriages for most airlines or the rules passengers must adhere and you need to understand how does skiplagging cost airlines money when flying with a particular airline, so airlines can sue you for using skiplagging if you got caught.
American Airlines Skiplagging
The airline explicitly lists skiplagging, often referred to as hidden city ticketing, as the top prohibited booking practice. American Airlines’ conditions of carriage define it as “purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flight segments to gain lower fare.”
Why is skiplagging not allowed and its legal implications?
As we know how does skiplagging cost airlines money, let’s be clear that when airlines catch passengers skiplagging, they have certain rights and measures they can take, as outlined in their contracts of carriage.
These actions may include –
Cancellation of the remaining portion – Airlines can cancel any unused part of the ticket, meaning that passengers are not entitled to any refund for the canceled flight segment.
Future flight bans – Airlines reserve the right to ban passengers from flying with them in the future as a consequence of skiplagging.
Past legal battles surrounding skiplagging
While airlines have taken action against skiplagging, some legal challenges have arisen –
- In November 2014, United Airlines filed a lawsuit against Skiplagging, alleging corrupt and illegal practices. However, the suit was dismissed by a judge in the following year.
- In 2018, Lufthansa pursued legal action against a passenger for skiplagging. The passenger had purchased a ticket from Oslo, Norway, to Seattle with a layover in Frankfurt, Germany, but departed from Frankfurt to Berlin. Complying with the Lufthansa Cancellation and Refund Policy, Lufthansa was asking for the fare difference for the originally ticketed route, approximately 2,385 USD. A German court initially dismissed the case over a recalculated airfare. Lufthansa appealed but later dropped the case.
While skiplagging may offer short-term savings to some travelers, it’s crucial to consider the broader consequences. In this blog, we discussed how does skiplagging cost airlines money so you may understand Airlines’ concerns about lost revenue, increased airfares, and operational delays. Though it is a cost-saving strategy passengers must be aware of why do airlines hate skiplagging and its potential implications and make informed choices when considering one.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Airlines disapprove of skiplagging primarily due to depleting revenue models, as they lose out on potential earnings for the unused portion of the journey.
Skiplagging itself is not illegal but it does violate airlines’ terms and conditions passengers agree to when booking a flight.
Yes, airlines reserve the right to ban passengers from flying with them in the future if they are caught skiplagging.
Yes, airlines can take actions against passengers who practice skiplagging. These actions may include canceling the upcoming flights, or charging the full fare for the originally ticketed route.
Passengers are supposed to complete all the segments of the flights as ticketed. Not complying with this agreement by intentionally missing a connecting flight may result in legal consequences.