My understanding of terminology:
- Layover: Typically <12 hour stop, where your checked luggage are automatically transferred between flights
- Stopover: Typically >12 hour stop, where you must manually re-check your luggage between flights
- Hidden city ticketing: Booking a layover flight where your actual destination is the layover, and intentionally miss the second leg of a flight to get a cheaper fare
A commonly cited limitation of hidden city ticketing is you cannot check any bags, and it might put you in bad standing with the airline/alliance if done too often.
But I remember in the ticketing rules of many airlines, that converting layovers to stopovers are generally pretty cheap (or free!). And a stopover would let you check luggage, or even explicitly cancel the second leg if your ticket class allows it. It even prevents the airline rescheduling a different stopover point if they cancel flights.
For example, I found the following example (LAX → HND), directly on the airline's website:
(Prices are for business:P class tickets)
The "regular" hidden city option (with a layover) is $1926 (~31%) cheaper than the direct ticket. But the layover can be converted to a stopover for a $177 premium, which still is a $1749 (~28%) savings over the direct ticket.
Is there any reason I shouldn't book this kind of "hidden city w/stopover" ticket over a normal direct ticket?
Are there any tools that automate looking for these kinds of tickets? It seems most tools can only search for "hidden city w/layover" type tickets, and some even limit you to economy class.
(For the record, to find the above example, I first found regular economy class "hidden city w/layover" tickets on https://skiplagged.com, and then checked ITA Matrix for business class "w/stopover" versions, then confirming on the airline's website)