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Lets say I live in A(USA) and need travel to B(Asia). The cost of a ticket from A->B is $2000 more than a ticket from C(USA) -> A(USA) -> B(Asia).

C and A are 90 minutes apart and there are multiple flights daily. Can I or can I not do the following:

  1. Book C->A->B and turn up at A and tell the checkin staff that I came there through alternate means. I will obviously have to be before the flight from C departs to avoid being a no-show.

  2. On the way back from B -> A -> C, can I disembark at A after requesting the checkin staff at B to book the baggage only until A?

I've already booked the C->A->B/B->A->C flight but I want to see if I can save myself a little hassle along with a lot of money.

Thanks

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This is called "hidden city ticketing", you'll find quite a few questions on this topic. I'm pretty sure there is a canonical question and answer about this somewhere on the site with all the gory details, but I can't find it.

Book C->A->B and turn up at A and tell the checkin staff that I came there through alternate means. I will obviously have to be before the flight from C departs to avoid being a no-show.

Almost certainly no. Most fare rules and/or conditions of carriage specify that segments must all be flown in order. Indeed if you didn't show up in C in time they would just cancel all segments. Not sure they would go around that in the scenario you give, and depending on the airline and airport, you may not even be able to check-in that early in A anyway (depends on the exact timing).

Of course, airlines and staff may have some leeway, but it's nearly impossible to guarantee in advance, so you risk losing the whole round-trip at the last minute. There are probably exceptions for the more expensive "flexible" / "full fare" tickets, but you would have to double-check that, and since you're trying to save money I don't think this is an option for you.

On the way back from B -> A -> C, can I disembark at A after requesting the checkin staff at B to book the baggage only until A?

In theory no, though I've seen exceptions, though with a quite more complex scenario where the passenger definitely wasn't trying to trick the airline (and it was obvious). Again, nearly impossible to guarantee in advance, but it doesn't hurt to ask at check-in time.

In your specific case, since B is outside the US and A and C are in the US, you have to go through immigration and customs at A, so you'll get your bags there whatever happens, provided there is no US pre-clearance at your point of departure. You are then supposed to drop your bag back into the system right after customs, but if you ignore that and exit the airport there isn't much they can do (other than flag you and make your life miserable in the future, but I suppose they only do that for repeat offenders).

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    this is largely correct, but on the way back B→A→C, you can exit the air system at A if you have hand luggage only, or if A is your first stop in the United States and all passengers must claim and recheck their luggage anyway. the airline will get mad at you if you do this, though just what they can do about their anger depends on a variety of factors and sometimes adds up to "not much". – mlc Mar 11 at 1:03
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    @mlc I had skipped the hand-luggage-only option since OP seems to be sure to have checked luggage, but I had indeed forgotten about the US port of entry peculiarity, I'll update. – jcaron Mar 11 at 1:10
  • @jcaron "other than flag you and make your life miserable in the future" I doubt it. I'm yet to see the contract of carriage which actually requires you to fly all segments; basically they just say that if you don't show up at one, they cancel the rest, and that's all. – George Y. Mar 12 at 3:17
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To add to a detailed answer of @jcaron, there are two more potential issues:

  • If you have a flight C->B->A and intend to leave on B, it is possible that your C->B flight gets canceled and the airline would reroute you to C->D->A or even C->A flight (they have all the rights to do this since your destination is A). However even in such cases the airline tends to be flexible, so if you insist on flying exactly C->B they would still accommodate you - but it might not be the same day or even next day, and you won't be compensated then for the delay.

  • If your C->B leg is Asia - USA, and you have checked in the luggage (expecting to pick it up in the US customs and leave) and your luggage is lost, by default it would be routed to A, and not to B. In this case however you can request the airline to route it to B, and even explain that your trip to A without luggage makes no sense.

And three more notes:

  • Some countries give you more flexibility. For example in Italy you can skip some segments from your itinerary without penalties. See for example item 3.3.8 of the conditions of carriage for Alitalia: https://www.alitalia.com/en_us/booking/general-conditions-of-carriage.html

    "However, only in case of tickets sold in Italy, if the first leg of the flight (or a segment of it) is not used for any reason, the request to hold the validity of the Ticket for the return flight, can be accepted only if previously communicated to Alitalia’s Contact Center..."

  • Some airlines position themselves as "point to point" and thus don't care at all about missing segments. Ryanair, for example. However you're not going to save any money with them by booking hidden city, because they charge per segment.

  • The legality of hidden city ticketing has been tested in Berlin court, and Lufthansa has lost this case. See for example https://liveandletsfly.com/lufthansa-loses-lawsuit/

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