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We all know how ridiculous airlines prices are. A flight from “A” to “B” could be more expensive than a flight from “A” to “B” to “C” and back. I have no idea why this is happening. It is what it is I guess.

Question: I am a U.S. citizen. Based on the covid restrictions I’m allowed to visit country “A”, but not allowed to visit country “B”. I need to travel to country “A” (and I don’t care about “B”). I only need a One way flight to A.

  • Option 1. Flight “USA to A”. Price: $1,000.
  • Option 2. Flight “USA to A to B”. Price: $800. I have no idea why. The final destination is “B”, which I’m not allowed to visit (and I don’t care about B, since I need to go to A).

Is it ok for me to buy Option 2 Ticket, and stay in “A”? Or it is forbidden? Also, is the airline company going to let me board such a flight… after all the final destination of this flight is B. I want buy this flight with an intention to stay in A, and not go to B. Is this ok?

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    " I have no idea why. " - maybe it's because, for the reasons you already know, demand for USA -> B travel is low therefore prices are reduced?
    – AakashM
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 8:31
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    If you are not allowed to B you can't make your plans real. If you don't care about B (but can be allowed, e.g. with an "airport visa") that's a starting point of discussion Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 8:48
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    One additional concern I would have, which hasn't been addressed by any of the two answers: will the OP be allowed to leave the international zone of the airport when they arrive in country A? The airport might consider that the OP is only allowed in their airport for transit, not for actually entering the country.
    – Stef
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 10:33
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    @AakashM That doesn't really adequately explain OP's scenario. If demand for apples is low, that doesn't explain why an orange plus an apple is cheaper than an orange.
    – JBentley
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 13:18
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    @JBentley Airlines don't consider a flight from A to C with a connection via B to be like getting an orange plus an apple. Airlines are looking at a bunch of things: the market of people who want to fly directly from A to B, the market of people who want to fly from A to C with a layover, the market of people who'd rather fly direct from A to C with another airline, and the available capacity on all relevant flights. They're trying to maximize their profit across their network, and might discount the connecting flight because it's less convenient than their competitors and in lower demand. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 16:46

2 Answers 2

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This is known as "hidden-city ticketing." Airlines aren't fond of it, and in some cases can take action by going after the frequent flyer accounts of people who do it or even suing passengers, especially if you do this frequently, as it violates the airline's contract of carriage, though it can be done in some cases.

There are a lot of limitations though. Checked bags which are checked through to "B" are an obvious problem, as is round-trip travel as you've already observed (the airline will automatically cancel the rest of your itinerary if you no-show the segment from "A" to "B," so this doesn't work for round-trips). There's also the risk that due to schedule changes, flight delays, or cancellations, the airline rebooks you on another routing to "B" that never takes you to "A" at all. All of this is to say that hidden city ticketing is certainly a thing, but it can go wrong in a bunch of different ways and probably shouldn't be attempted unless you're really sure you know what you're doing.

But the biggest issue here is that you say that you are not allowed into country "B" due to COVID restrictions. You haven't said what countries these are, but it's at least quite likely that the airline will confirm your eligibility to enter country "B" when you check in for your flight in the US: the airline won't even fly you from the US to "A" until they've confirmed that you have the necessary documents (both immigration and COVID-related) to enter "B." Based on what you've said, you're likely to be denied boarding.

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    "the airline rebooks you on another routing to "B" that never takes you to "A" at all." -- this needs to emphasized. Hidden city ticketing is taking a risk where you might need to buy a very expensive last minute ticket to get where you wanted to go. Also, another small detail: while a civil case can be brought against you, it's not criminal to do this.
    – user4188
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 1:17
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 8:05
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You will be denied boarding in the USA. There is almost zero chance you will be allowed to travel to country A.

Airlines are legally responsibility for checking your eligibility to enter your destination country, as well as your eligibility for transiting any intermediate countries. This includes both things like visa requirements, but also COVID-based rules/restrictions/testing requirements/etc. They generally will do this at check-in, and/or at the gate when you are boarding your first international leg.

In this case, your destination is country B, with a transit in country A. As you are legally not eligible to entry country B, your entire trip will be treated as invalid, and you will be denied boarding at your origin.

Using hidden city ticketing as this is called can be fraught with risk at the best of times. Using it across 3 different countries in the times of COVID-19 is almost certainly a bad idea.

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    Although I agree with the advice here, in general it's not certain the airline knows OP is not allowed to enter country B. They do basic checks, but cannot catch all reasons for people being banned or denied entry to destination countries.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 8:29
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    it is not true at all that the airlines check your eligibility to enter your destination country. of course they will check in case it's something simple like visa, but nobody will be going through detailed covid and background checks to see if you may enter country B
    – user151496
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 12:29
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    @user151496 Airlines are responsible for checking COVID requirements (test results, vaccination status, etc) in exactly the same way they are required to check visa requirements
    – Doc
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 13:57
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    @user151496 This seems to be very much context dependent. I've seen several people left on the ground because they did not have a suitable test (this was for intra EU flights). Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 8:36
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    The airline’s initial check, in my experience, is a simplified version of the destination entry requirements, and it will usually (though not always) err on the side of restrictiveness. So if it looks like your justification is at all borderline/complex, they will most likely flag you up, and the burden will be on you to convince them that you meet the entry requirements.
    – PLL
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 9:04

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