One way fares and round trips are the most common flight options. While airlines tend to offer better deals on round trips, if you’re uncertain of your date of return you have no choice but to book a one way trip.
Now, sometimes direct flights to your destination are not available and at times are quite pricey. Here’s where the “hidden city” comes into play. Hidden city is when you find that a flight to another city with your destination as the connecting point is cheaper than flying directly to it.
For example, a person trying to find flights from LA to Dulles finds that flying from LA to Boston with a stopover at Dulles is cheaper. So he books the ticket to Boston, gets off at Dulles and doesn’t complete the last leg of the journey.
Hidden city was thrust into the limelight when Aktarer Zaman, a 22-year-old whiz kid designed a site called Skiplagged that found these kinds of flights. While the site didn’t allow people to book tickets from it, it pointed them in the direction of cheaper options.
The problems with this sort of travel are –
Carry-on only – You will have to limit yourself to cabin luggage only as your checked-in luggage will be sent to the flight’s final destination.
No round trip – You won’t be able to book a round trip as the place from which you’re booked to return from is not the destination you intend to go to. You might miss out on the lower round trip fare if you chose to not look at the big picture.
Penalty – The airlines could penalize you by taking away your frequent flier miles or kicking you off the program altogether.
While this sort of travel isn’t illegal, it violates the fare rules of most airlines.