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As I wrote earlier this morning, I kinda forgot to book the first leg of my trip to Peru.  I have one award ticket booked with Alaska miles from Washington DC to Cuzco (via Lima) and the return booked as one award using AAdvantage from Cuzco to Lima to Washington back to Cleveland.  When I booked these tickets a few months ago, I told myself to book a separate award ticket for my outbound leg from Cleveland to Washington but…. I forgot :-).  And now cash tickets are outrageously expensive

cle-iad-google-flights

Hidden City ticketing

A commenter on my original post suggested looking into hidden city ticketing.  Hidden city ticketing is the art of buying a connecting flight to a destination that you’re not really going to, and then getting off half-way / “forgetting” to take your onward connection.

Consumers have the mindset that when they buy a ticket from A->B->C that they are buying a ticket from A to B and one from B to C.  The airlines take the side that you’re buying a ticket from A to C, and it is irrelevant that there is a connection at City B.

Generally airlines do not LIKE when you engage in hidden city ticketing, though it’s been my personal experience and from what I have read, as long as you are not doing it all the time or otherwise rubbing it in their face.  I bought a ticket from Salt Lake City to Charlotte to Cincinnati to go to the Family Travel for Real Life Conference in Charlotte, “accidentally” getting off in Charlotte and not taking my onward connection to Cincinnati (I bought a 4500 Avios ticket for the next day to go from CLT-CVG)

(SEE ALSO: Traveling #hobostyle)

Some things to watch out for with hidden city ticketing:

  • Obviously, don’t check any bags. Your checked luggage will not know you’re getting off half-way
  • In case of a weather, mechanical or other irregular operations, you may be out of luck.  The airline may try to route you a different way to where they think is your final destination
  • You may not earn miles for your ticket (even the leg that you actually did fly)

I’ve written before about hidden city ticketing, when Southwest was blatantly offering up some hidden city tickets as I looked to book a trip with my son to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam

[3 tricks to visit the Hoover Dam for free]

So I plugged in my dates into Skiplagged.com, the company United tried to sue, and oh what do we have here?

skiplagged-cle-iad

By booking a flight from Cleveland to TAMPA (connecting in Dulles), I can get it for $114!  The only problem is that if there is a delay or any kind of irregular options, I could be in major trouble for our onward flight to Lima.  LAN is not going to care if our United flight is delayed.

(SEE ALSO: Connecting flights on different airlines – is it worth it?)

I mean granted, at least it’s summer so we shouldn’t have to deal with snow or other weather delays, but I’m not sure I want to risk it.  If this was the END of the trip, I might feel better, but I’ve already had one major trip disrupted due to a cancellation on the first flight.  I’m not sure my heart can stand another one!!!

Other options

Another commenter suggested looking for flights out of CAK (Canton-Akron).  That would be less advantageous, as we’ll be staying the night before with my parents, who live about 10 minutes from the Cleveland airport as opposed to an hour from CAK.  Flights are cheaper though!

cak-iad-google-flights

Another commenter suggested renting a car (6 hour drive one way) which, when considering car rental, gas, tolls and parking doesn’t strike me as a great use of money, even if I ignore the 12 hours extra time.

So at least there are options.  I’m thinking that I’ll just book the short haul ticket with 10K United miles

What would you do?  Would you book the hidden city ticket, book it with miles, or try something else?

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