What Is Skip Lagging and Should You Do It to Fly to Denver Colorado?
We've all thought about doing it or even done it at one point, but I bet you didn't know there was a term for it. "Skip Lagging" is the process of booking an airline ticket to a destination with no plan of making your connecting flight. Instead, your plan is to get off in a different city where the airline thinks you're going to make a connection.
It has also been referred to as "hidden city ticketing" or "point beyond ticketing."
And the reason people do it - even though it seems crazy they have to? Often it's cheaper than just booking a direct flight to the connecting city.
Case in point. The other day a kid was flying with a paid ticket on American Airlines from Gainesville, FL to New York City, with a layover and connection in Charlotte, NC. The catch was he from Charlotte, was planning on getting off there simply leaving the airport and going home, intentionally missing the second flight to NYC.
American Airlines caught onto this before he ever got on the plane thanks to his North Carolina driver's license, and the gate agent questioned him. Long story short, he ended up in a security room and when he admitted that was his plan, the airline canceled his ticket and forced his family to pay the price of just the Gainesville to Charlotte flight, which was more expensive than the Gainesville to Charlotte to New York City combination.
I'll pause while you think about why this happens and why it's okay.
I don't understand it either. You'd think the further the flight, the more expensive it would be. Especially multiple flights. But in theory, I guess if one of the typical connecting cities is a more popular destination - like say, Denver - if you were an airline, wouldn't you also charge more for people to fly here than fly through to someplace like Albuquerque? No offense, New Mexico.
And in our case here in Colorado especially, Denver International Airport - as you already know - is a hub for a few big airlines. Which is to say, a lot of passengers pass through here on their way to somewhere else. And that, correct me if I'm wrong, presents a greater number of opportunities for you to skip lag your way home from somewhere else.
Anyway, this is a common practice amongst savvy travelers, and there are even websites dedicated to finding you these "skip lagging" fares, where they identify the connecting flight combinations that ultimately get you where you want to go for cheaper simply by getting off at a layover stop.
Doing this comes with a major risk, however. While it's not illegal by any stretch, you technically are violating the terms of your contract with the airline when you purchase the ticket. In other words, it's their way of making sure you pay more for your ticket when you could actually pay less.
There have been many, many lawsuits over violating the terms of this contract. Many flights are canceled for people who get caught. And many passengers are banned from traveling with certain airlines for doing it over and over or simply getting caught once. In other words, use this travel hack at your own risk.
If you're curious, you can check out some FAQs and browse some "destinations" at SkipLagged.com.