The travel industry is booming right now with travelers throughout the world spending small fortunes for quick getaways. Inflation and the rising cost of plane tickets and hotel rooms have driven prospective tourists to cut corners and do whatever they can to save money on their vacations. The newest and most interesting of these corner-cutting hacks is known as skiplagging.
While the name may be confusing, skiplagging is quite simple. This airline hack refers to buying a ticket for an inexpensive flight with a layover, and intentionally skipping the second leg of the flight. Keen travelers figured out that airlines often charge too much for direct flights to popular tourist cities.
Looking for a loophole, they quickly discovered that you can simply find a flight with a layover in the desired city and stay there. Instead of getting on the connecting flight, these sneaky travelers get off the plane and start their vacation. Airlines typically offer better rates for flights with layovers than direct flights, and this simple exploit is a way around that.
Websites like Skiplagged made it easy for travelers to find flights with layovers in the cities they want to visit to save up to a few hundred dollars per flight. However, it didn’t take long for airlines and travel fare businesses like Orbitz to catch on, and they aren’t too happy about it. Both Orbitz and American Airlines have since sued the website’s founder.
While the case was thrown out in court, it is a sign that airlines are well aware of what people are doing, and they aren’t okay with it. Both United Airlines and American Airlines have billed passengers for skiplagging, and one person was billed as much as $2,500 doing it so many times. Even Lufthansa sued a passenger for skiplagging a single flight. More airlines will likely impose restrictions and financial penalties for customers that get caught skiplagging as well.
The recent actions of major airlines to penalize travelers for skiplagging have raised questions about the practice’s legality. While skiplagging isn’t illegal, it may violate airline policy depending on who you book your flight through. Whether the airline fines you or not, they are likely to ban you from flying through them if you get caught.
Skiplagging dates back to 2014, so why is it such a big part of the conversation now? It’s likely because of the rising interest in travel that continues to grow since the pandemic in 2020. Travel costs have risen alongside the urge for people to travel and get away, so airline hacks and exploits have become more popular.
The rise in airlines penalizing people for skiplagging has led many would-be travelers to question whether or not it’s worth it. Skiplagged claims that you can save up to 50% on your flight by skiplagging, and that is worthwhile to many people. However, the prospect of getting sued by an airline or banned for life is a risk that may not be worth the trouble.
Airlines have even canceled return flights for travelers that were caught skiplagging. Each airline has a contract of carriage that lays out everything a passenger must do to comply with their rules. It’s important to read this contract before you plan to attempt travel hacks like skiplagging, or you may find yourself facing fines.
The future of skiplagging is uncertain as more and more airlines impose penalties for those that try it. Skiplagging was once an underground hack that only the most web-savvy travelers were aware of. Now, it’s a common practice and term that airlines and travel agencies are well aware of. Consider the prospect of being fined or banned from your favorite airline before you attempt this hack.