13

I was looking into tickets from BOS > LHR a direct flight costs at least $1,154 via American airways, while British itself costs at least $1,199 (see pic below) now a ticket BOS > LHR > DXB which the first leg includes the previous one costs $560! (see pic below)

so I can simply book the second itinerary, and skip the last leg to Dubai. How does that make any sense?

one leg journey BOS > LHR

the two leg journey BOS > LHR > DXB

8
  • 29
    Welcome to Travel.SE. Yes, this is very common and can be financially very advantageous, but there are also limitations and risks. Search "hidden city ticketing" to find out more. Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 23:43
  • 4
    in the news these days: theguardian.com/business/2023/aug/19/…
    – njzk2
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 9:17
  • 5
    You should check the ticket conditions. When you don't check-in in DXB on the return trip, they may cancel your ticket (or even when you don't board in LHR to DXB.)
    – Matte.Car
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 14:45
  • 1
    thank you, I have spent hours reading about this today. Amazing and amusing topic
    – M.A
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 15:53
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Is leaving airport at a stop before the final destination illegal?
    – AAM111
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 1:00

2 Answers 2

37

This is a well known pricing strategy by the airlines. Price is mostly based on "What we think we can get" and not on what it actually costs to operate the flight. Non-stops are more desirable and have less competition than connecting flights hence the airline tries to charge more.

so I can simply book the second itinerary, and skip the last leg to Dubai.

That's called "Hidden City" ticketing. There are a lot of pros and cons to it which you can explore by yourself by Googling it. See for example: https://onemileatatime.com/guides/hidden-city-ticketing/

The short version: You can only do it on the last segment of your itinerary and you can't do it with checked luggage. There are even websites that specifically target these type of pricing loopholes. e.g. https://skiplagged.com/

It does violate the terms and conditions of the airline and the airline may try to retaliate somehow. In a few cases airlines have actually sued. However, the courts have so far sided with the customers along the lines of "If you make bizarre pricing policies to screw over the customer, you can't complain if some customers uses the same policies to screw you".

How does that make any sense ????

It really doesn't but it's the mind-bogglingly convoluted way airline pricing works.

10
  • amazing stuff, thanks! I still find it hard to believe since the second trip to Dubai is not a short one, it is even longer than the trip from BOS to LHR
    – M.A
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 15:54
  • 1
    What happens if you do cagin luggage only, and they gate check it? Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 16:14
  • 1
    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact there are other options not shown in the picture including ones with 18h layover. the price is the same.
    – M.A
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 21:39
  • 1
    @KristvanBesien Gate-checked baggage is usually returned to you at the jetway upon landing, so you're fine. However, I have personally been on a flight where gate-checked bag was put on the carousel, to be retrieved after clearing customs. Fortunately, I had the foresight to fetch my passport from the bag before gate-checking it... Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 23:56
  • 5
    @DavidJones: "gate checking" used to be like that. But these days it is more and more common for gate agents to check bags at the gate, to final destination. Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 6:36
18

As already explained in another answer, this is a common practice (both the strange pricing and the strategies to get around it). I am familiar with this inside the US, and I find it interesting to see it internationally. Which raises a few issues that don't apply for domestic travel:

  • Visas/etc.

There are some situations where you may be able to transit through an airport but not enter the country. Alternatively, it is possible that you might have permission for the middle location but not for the final destination. In this example, there may be some people who are allowed to travel Dubai and transit through UK but not be allowed to enter UK to stay there for any significant period of time. The airline would be responsible to make sure you have the right paperwork to enter Dubai (to the best of their knowledge) but not to enter the UK. Which means that if you then had a problem entering UK, the airline would not be responsible, and by the time you find out, it is likely that the flight to Dubai will have already left. And then you could end up in quite a bit of trouble, including having to pay top dollar for an immediate flight back to the US.

On the flip side, if you have permission to enter the UK but do not have permission to enter Dubai then the airline will (correctly) not allow you on the flight in the first place. So you'd better have everything lined up perfectly or you will have problems.

  • Missed Flights

This can be due to your showing up at the airport too late, flight cancelled due to weather or equipment problems or an overbooked flight and you are the lucky one to be kicked off. The problem is that the airline is only responsible to get you to Dubai, and might find another flight for you that is either non-stop (normally a good thing!) or stops/transfers in a different country. Either way, you end up somewhere other than where you want to be. This could happen with a domestic flight too, but the difference between London and Dubai is a lot more than between Denver and Los Angeles, etc.

  • Plans and Return Flights

Many countries, depending on status (citizenship, reason for travel, visa status, etc.) may require you to show proof of where you will be staying (name/location of friends/relatives or hotel reservations) and/or proof of a return flight (or a flight to some other country). That could get rather tricky in this case if both the UAE (to show the airline that you are OK based on the itinerary) and the UK (to actually enter the UK) have such requirements.

  • Can You Get Off the Plane?

I know in domestic flights (US, many years ago), if you were on a flight with a stop but you were going to the next stop on the same plane, they would often not let you get off the plane, because they wanted to minimize people moving around in order to have a faster turnaround. That is probably less likely to be an issue here, as an international flight like this might even be two different airlines (one of them a code-share), and even if one airline more likely to have stops in between. In a case where there is a 6 hour gap between flights then even if the second leg is on the same plane, nobody is going to want to stay on the plane that long and the airline will likely need to (or should do) a full cleaning in between. But I am sure there are some exceptions, and in those exceptions you may cause quite a stir if you insist on getting off the plane at a location that is not the location on your ticket.

4
  • Speaking of Return Flights, supposing you've bought BOS > LHR > DXB + DXB > LHR > BOS, you won't be able to board the DXB > LHR > BOS at London... Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 13:30
  • 1
    @FreeMan: I have always found those cards available in the entry hall as well. Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 13:59
  • @FreeMan 1) they abolished landing cards recently if I am not mistaken. 2) they used to be available in the immigration hall.
    – M.A
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 14:10
  • 1
    OK, comment deleted. We did get landing cards into LHR in 2018, but maybe (obviously?) that's changed since then. Y'all can delete your comments, too now.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 14:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .