I've seen some comments on 'hidden city' ticketing, but am not sure if what I'm considering falls under that description.

My original tickets were MKE-CLE-IAD and back IAD-CLE-MKE. The airline (United) changed my tickets after confirmation -- no idea why -- they must have taken one of the legs out of their scheduled flights because I can't find it anymore. So now they have me flying MKE-ORD-IAD and back IAD-ORD-MKE. I live midway between MKE and ORD and the only reason I chose to use MKE was because I need to be in Milwaukee the evening of my return. So now if I use the full ticket, I'll arrive in Chicago at 2:32, sit around for 2 hours, and hope that the ORD-MKE flight stays on schedule so that I arrive at MKE at 5:30 as planned so I can attend the 7 p.m. event.

or -- I can get picked up at ORD on arrival and be sure of making it to the concert. Not checking bags.

Is there any reason I couldn't do this?

I've paid for the ticket and don't expect any part of it refunded.


3 Answers 3


If you are sure that you are going to break the return flight in ORD, I would have contacted the airline, describe the situation and ask them if they could cancel the ORD-MKE leg. After all, they currently offer you a different itinerary than what you originally booked and if canceling parts of the replacement offer is more convenient both for you and for the airline, I don't see why they shouldn't do that.

It's more convenient for you to have a correct ticket, since you will still have the ability to check luggage on short notice, should the need arise.

It's more convenient for the airline, since they after the change would have a free seat on the ORD-MKE flight, which they can sell to someone else.


This is known as the hidden-city strategy. If you don't use the last leg ORD-MKE you're actually using this ploy. But...in your case - you're not doing it to save money, you're doing it because it's more convenient for you. If you're not using any points or anything like that I just don't see why not doing it.

The question should be: is it ok to entertain this approach? yes and no. Yes, because you're not breaking any criminal law here (unless you're caught and you lie about it - so don't do that!). On the flip side, there's a contract between you and the airline that you must respect.

  • "(unless you're caught and you lie about it - so don't do that!)." Martha Stewart didn't go to jail for insider trading (just a fine was involved). She went to jail for LYING about it.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 17:39
  • This is factually incorrect, at least as was stated: You do not commit a criminal offense if you lie about an issue that was not a criminal offense in the first place, though it may depend on whom you lie to. If being asked by airline personnel then lying about it does not make this a criminal offense. But if you were in court and swore to tell the truth and then lie this will then turn into a criminal offense (the lying).
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 11:28

Yes you can, but you are violating the contract of carriage and the airline could potentially take recourse. Since it's the last leg of your flight, the only punishment they can dish out is to revoke frequent flyer miles or status. This is unlikely to happen for a "first offender" especially if you can claim that you didn't know about the requirement to take the last leg. After it all , it really doesn't make a lot of sense: you already paid for it and it should be your choice if you use it or not. It's like saying: you bought two steaks, but if you don't eat the second you need to pay extra since one steak is more expensive than two.

Any legal action is highly unlikely. In fact it would be great if a court would look into the pricing practice. The fact that they can sell one steak for more than two steaks can really only work if all airlines agree to do it the same way which could potentially constitute a violation of anti-trust regulatioins.

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