Flight Booking

How to Use Skiplagged to Find Cheap Flights

Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert
April 1, 2019
7 min read

Skiplagged is a powerful flight search engine that specializes in unearthing hidden city fares. Booking a hidden city fare, also called point-beyond ticketing, is when you buy a ticket to a point beyond where you actually want to go. Your ticket lists one destination but the city you actually want to visit is the layover city on the way. You book a flight from A to C with a layover in B, with the intention of staying in city B.

For example, maybe you want to go from Kansas City to Chicago, but you find a cheaper flight from Kansas City to NYC with a layover in Chicago. You book the flight to NYC, but you get off at the layover in Chicago and remain there.

Skiplagged surfaces these hidden city options in addition to standard itineraries, so you may be able to find cheaper fare than searching only on sites like Google Flights and Kayak.

What Skiplagged is good at:

  • Hidden city ticketing. Skiplagged unearths fares that may be cheaper if you end your journey at the layover city
  • Finding cheap airfare when you have no particular destination in mind. Skiplagged’s homepage shows you upcoming sample fares, and it has an option to search flights to “Anywhere”
  • Flight result filters. You can filter by standard routing or hidden city, take-off and landing time, stops, and airlines
  • Price alerts. You can sign up for alerts when cheap airfare becomes available

What Skiplagged is bad at:

  • It’s not as robust as other search sites. It does not have a lot of the same functionality that other search aggregators like Google Flights, Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kayak have (there is no flexible date search, no multi-city/open-jaw search, and you can't search multiple locations at once)
  • It doesn't always find the lowest price. Skiplagged doesn't search online travel agencies like Priceline or Orbitz (it takes you directly to the airline to book) so it doesn’t always find the very best price
  • Offering an uncomplicated journey. There are lots of caveats to booking hidden city ticketing, which we’ll explain below

How to Use Skiplagged to find cheap flights

Let’s use the example above of booking a flight from Kansas City to Chicago for dates in early April (there are no flexible dates with Skiplagged).

How to search for flights on Skiplagged

You have the option of selecting your type of trip, whether it’s roundtrip, or one way.

screenshot of inputting dates on Skiplagged

Hit “Search Flights.” You’re automatically shown the cheapest options, which here are two hidden city fares. You can tell they are hidden city fares because it says “skiplagged rate” on the left and the final leg of the itinerary (from ORD to BWI) is greyed out.

scrneeshot of flight search results on Skiplagged

How to filter results on Skiplagged

As you can see on the left-hand side of the search results, you also have several filters to choose from. The full list includes:

  • Number of stops
  • Take off and landing times (i.e. morning or night)
  • Flight duration
  • Layover duration
  • Preferred airlines
  • Arrival airport
  • Layover cities

Finding hidden city fares on Skiplagged

It’s not so much that you actually want to find a hidden city fare; it’s more than you want to know when a hidden city ticket might be cheaper than standard routing. That’s more likely to be the case when the destination you want to visit is a major hub.

For example, almost all United Airlines flights to or from smaller destinations in the American Midwest connect in Chicago. So if you’re looking for a flight to Chicago, a hidden city ticket that has a layover in Chicago but an official destination elsewhere may end up being cheaper than a flight that terminates in Chicago. But, if your end goal is a smaller, non-hub city like Des Moines, it’s less likely that a route to another city would involve a layover there.

Here’s an international example to put it another way:

You want to go from Buenos Aires to Miami. That flight costs $500, but a flight from Buenos Aires to Charlotte with a layover in Miami costs $400. You could save yourself $100 by booking a hidden city ticket (from Buenos Aires to Charlotte via Miami) and not continuing the flight once you’ve landed in Miami.

With Skiplagged, you don’t need to do anything special to find these fares; they’ll simply appear in your search results if they offer a competitive price compared to standard routing. You’ll know it’s a hidden city route because the last leg of the journey will be crossed off, and it’ll be noted as a Skiplagged rate.

If the cheapest option from Skiplagged includes a hidden city ticket, you will have to book two separate one-way flights if you want to do a roundtrip. This is because if you book a roundtrip flight and skip the last leg of your outbound flight, the airline will cancel your return flight.

Booking a flight on Skiplagged

When you’re ready to book, Skiplagged automatically gives you the option for booking two separate one-way flights, which you’ll always need to do unless the portion of the itinerary you plan to skip is on the return. Once you have skipped a leg of your itinerary, the airline will cancel all subsequent legs.

In this example, you’ll book a hidden city flight on the way there but standard routing on the way back. Since the leg you plan to skip is on the way there, you need to book two one-way flights; otherwise your return flight would be canceled once you skipped the Chicago-to-Baltimore leg.

screenshot of flight booking page on Skiplagged

For any hidden city flights, Skiplagged will take you directly to the airline to book your flight, so the airline’s cancellation fees will apply to your fare (which isn’t always the case when you’re booking through an OTA). However, there may be fees that weren’t shown on Skiplagged. For example, if you want advance seat selection and checked baggage, this could jack up the price of your flight.

For standard flights, you can book with the airline or on Skiplagged. For these flights, Skiplagged charges a service fee starting from around $8.

You can also search from your departure city to “Anywhere” to find other cheap flights, like New York City to Portland for $58 one way in June.

screenshot of flight examples on Skiplagged

Frequently Asked Questions About Skiplagged

What does hidden city mean on Skiplagged?

A hidden city fare is an itinerary where you end your journey at the layover point even though you hold a ticket for a flight to a destination beyond that. Skiplagged identifies these fares by marking it as “Skiplagged rate” and crossing out the parts of the itinerary that you’ll book but not use.

Can you check bags on Skiplagged?

If you’ve booked a standard flight on Skiplagged, you can check bags; if it’s a hidden city itinerary, do not check your bags. They will be checked through to the official final destination, not your layover point, which means you and your bags will end up in two different places.

If you’re crossing international borders, there may be ways to get around this. Some flights require you to pick up your bags in the layover city, such as when you’re flying from another country to the US. If you’re ticketed from Amsterdam to Chicago and then on Des Moines, for example, you’ll have to pick up your bag in Chicago and take it through customs. This means that if you’re planning to end your travel in Chicago, it’s okay for you to check your bag on the first flight, since you can collect it at the interim point.

Some international flights with long layovers may also offer you the option to pick up your baggage at the layover point rather than having it checked through to the final destination. Airline policies on this can vary widely, so check with your carrier and get the details for your specific airline and routing.

Does Skiplagged charge a fee?

There is a service fee with each standard booking completed through Skiplagged, starting around $8. Hidden city bookings are done directly through the airline.

Is hidden city ticketing legal?

Yes, but you should know that airlines obviously do not approve of this practice. It is exceedingly unlikely the airline will notice as long as you don't book too many hidden city fares within a short amount of time. There have been a few lawsuits filed about hidden city ticketing, but thus far each one has been thrown out. However, the airlines can impose other penalties, like banning you from the airline or canceling your frequent flyer miles.

Can I skip the first leg of a flight?

No, and this is essential to know. If you skip the first leg of your flight, all subsequent flights in that itinerary will be automatically canceled by the airline. However, when you search airfares with Skiplagged and your cheapest option is a hidden city fare, Skiplagged will automatically take you to book two separate flights. You must book two separate one-way flights if you're skipping a leg on the outbound journey.

Can I book a roundtrip on Skiplagged?

Yes, Skiplagged also finds cheap standard roundtrip airfares that do not involve skipping a leg. You can also book a roundtrip journey if you're only planning to skip a leg on the return flight, not the outbound flight.

What happens if the airline changes my flight and it no longer goes through the hidden city?

It’s incredibly rare, but every now and then, an airline will change a flight’s routing. Obviously, if you have a hidden city ticket and the routing is changed so you’re going through a different city, this will mess up your trip.

You can’t tell the airline you were planning on getting off on your layover city. However, you can tell the airline that the timing doesn’t work for you. Come prepared with alternative flights that will take you through the city you wanted to go through and see if the airline is willing to change your itinerary.

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Last Updated 
April 1, 2019
How to Use Skiplagged to Find Cheap Flights
Scott Keyes
Founder & Chief Flight Expert

Scott has traveled to 46 countries (and 46 states!), living in California, to Oaxaca, to Oregon. He’s left-handed, drinks five cups of tea daily, and holds a vendetta against the “Happy Birthday” song. On a dare, he once ate 13 hot dogs (and a bowl of Dippin’ Dots) at the ballpark. He grew up in Ohio and founded Scott’s Cheap Flights in a Denver coffee shop. Favorite airport: PDX.

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