Beat High Airfares With The Old "Hidden City" Trick

Here’s a little secret to saving big on airfare, courtesy of the New York Times Magazine. When you fly into an airport that is mainly controlled by one airline, like Memphis, Newark, or Dallas, it can be pretty pricey. For instance, Des Moines to Dallas is $375. But if you booked it to LA with a stopover in Dallas, the price drops to $186. All you have to do is just not get on the connecting flight. This is the “hidden city” trick.

A few caveats. Most importantly, you need book your flight as two one-ways rather than one round trip, otherwise the airline will likely cancel your ticket for missing one of the legs. You’ll also want to make sure to not check your luggage, and be sure to get at the gate very early so the overhead bins don’t get crowded.

And what of the ethical and legal considerations around this maneuver, which is expressly forbidden in the airlines’ rules? “Don’t lie if you get caught,” writes the New York Times Magazine. “Travel lawyers agree that misstating your intentions could leave you facing fraud charges. Instead, proudly state that you’re doing your part to help the airlines understand the inefficiencies in their pricing structures, and that you’re bringing exorbitant fares more in line with the free market.” Other than possibly getting banned from flying with the airline again, their opportunity for reprisal is pretty low.

How to Beat High Airfares [New York Times Magazine]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.