Skiplagging is an easy money-saving flight hack - but airlines really don't like it

It's controversial - and here's why

Travel hacks
(Image credit: Getty)

When it comes to travelling, there are hundreds of ways to save yourself a bit of stress, time or money - whether it's ensuring that you get the most leg room on a plane without paying for an upgrade, booking your flights on specific days of the week or using these savvy hacks to save on hotels

However, there may be one money-saving hack that you haven't considered - and it isn't one that airlines are particularly fond of. 

Skiplagging is touted as a common practice for thrifty travellers. It involves booking a cheaper flight option by finding a route where your preferred city or country is listed as a layover instead of the final destination. Once booked, travellers complete the first leg of the journey and remain there instead of continuing on to the destination that is officially booked.

Passengers often use this tactic as adding a layover can drastically reduce the cost of the flight, meaning that they get to their preferred destination for a fraction of the price.

For example, if you were hoping to travel from London to New York, it can end up cheaper to book a flight to another destination in the US which includes a layover in NYC. From here, the Skiplagging passengers simply disembark at JFK and don't catch the second flight to the final destination. 

It has become such a popular method of saving money on flights that there are now websites and services dedicated to finding routes that will get you to your preferred destination for far less.

But while some travellers have regularly used it as a way to reduce costs, airlines are cracking down on those who don't complete their booked journey. It isn't against the law - a court in Spain once ruled it to be totally legal - but it is definitely frowned upon by airlines and you could find yourself in a sticky situation. 

In recent years, there have been cases where airlines have taken passengers to court for skiplagging. In July this year, one teenager was detained in Florida when a gate attendant noticed that his identification was issued in the layover state and became suspicious, with American Airlines saying that 'hidden city ticketing is a violation of [our] terms and conditions'.

Lufthansa also sued a passenger for not completing a trip in 2019, claiming that his £600 flight ticket should have amounted to £2,769 - but the initial court case ruled in the passenger's favour. 

Passengers who opt to use the skiplagging method cannot check in baggage as your cases will end up at the final booked destination, regardless of whether you stay put in your layover spot. It is also worth noting that when booking return trips, airlines will usually cancel the return portion of the journey if the first part is not completed. 

It does also come with a number of risks. As airlines continue to clamp down on skiplaggers, they include small print in their terms and conditions forbidding the practice - which means that if things do take a litigious turn, you may be forced to pay back the difference. While in the past courts have generally sided with passengers in these cases, it's not a guarantee. 

Airlines may also forfeit any bonus points and schemes you have accrued (for example frequent flyer points or premium membership benefits).

So while it might save you money on your flights, it isn't a failsafe plan.

Have you ever skiplagged? 

Jadie Troy-Pryde
News Editor

Jadie Troy-Pryde is News Editor, covering celebrity and entertainment, royal, lifestyle and viral news. Before joining the team in 2018 as the Lifestyle and Social Media Editor, she worked at a number of women’s fashion and lifestyle titles including Grazia, Women’s Health and Stylist, and now heads the Marie Claire UK news desk.