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I am looking to fly to Europe round trip and travel for about 3 months in the interim. I would be booking these round trip flights with points from a domestic (US) carrier, who does not fly to Europe, but they will place me on international airlines (there are a couple of options).

So my question is about what they call 'hidden city ticketing,' where you book A-B-C but you end your travel at B instead of C. Now the reason for this question is that the cheapest flights across the Atlantic have you landing in Moscow- which is a fair ways away from the area of Europe I would be traveling (I am getting a eurarail pass which does not include trains from Russia).

So my question is, if the domestic airline I am using my points through use "Airline 1" to get me from the US to Europe, and then uses "Airline 2" to get me back to the US, would my return flight be canceled if I were get off at the stop before landing in Moscow? So the flight would be something like NY- Paris - Moscow via "Airline 1", but I get off in Paris.

Now obviously I would have to fly out of Moscow on my way back to the US, which is fine, but since it is with "Airline 2" would that airline have any idea that I used "Hidden City Ticketing" during my arrival flight and cancel my flight home? Or since it is booked through a single airline would that have an effect?

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    Are both flights, the one from the US to Europe and the one from Europe to the US, on the same ticket? – RoflcoptrException Dec 1 '15 at 20:29
  • 2
    Hidden ticketing only works when you drop the last flight leg on the ticket. If you drop a middle leg, the rest of the ticket is cancelled. – Gagravarr Dec 1 '15 at 20:31
  • When you get off in Paris, do you expect your luggage to get off the plane too? Or would it prefer to continue to Moscow? – Greg Hewgill Dec 1 '15 at 20:58
  • Hidden-city ticketing is very unusual with award flights. Are you sure you can't just book award flights to your actual destination? – jetset Dec 1 '15 at 23:45
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It's a little unclear, but as I understand it, you're proposing (the cities are made-up examples):

  • Booking a round-trip ticket using miles with Airline A
  • Where you're booked to fly NY-Paris-Moscow on Airline B
  • And a return Moscow-Paris-NY on Airline C
  • But you plan to not show up for the Paris-Moscow leg on Airline B

With such a plan, the remainder of your ticket will be cancelled once you miss the Paris-Moscow flight. While it's conceivable that you could slip through the cracks between different airlines' IT systems, your reservation is linked together on one ticket, and I don't believe it's likely that you'd get away with anything.

Other issues:

  • Any checked baggage would be unavailable to you in Paris, as it should be checked through to Moscow.
  • You would still need to get yourself to Moscow to travel home.
  • You would need a Russian visa with sufficient validity both to allow you to board the flight in NY and to actually get to Moscow to fly home (less of a problem, as 3-year multiple entry visas are common).
  • If the Paris authorities questioned you when entering France, they could have concerns about your itinerary. While they aren't there to enforce airline rules, your unusual travel plans would be more difficult to explain.

Also, many, but not all certainly, airlines will charge the same number of miles for any roundtrip flight between the US and Europe, making this scheme pointless. We don't know the rules of your program though.

  • Thanks for the response, Zach. Having all the reservations linked was what I was concerned about. I don't think I was going to check any luggage. But I haven't boughten my tickets yet, just planning ahead so I was seeing what options I have. So after that info it definitely sounds like it would not be worth it. – travel360 Dec 1 '15 at 23:33

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