As the recent lawsuit shows, the practice can be risky for the passenger. If you try to skiplag, you might get found out, even stopped at the airport.
“It does take effort and time to do this,” says Harteveldt. “Booking unusual itineraries could raise red flags, and someone could flag and monitor you while you fly. At some point you may get a letter, or corporate security meeting you at the gate. The airlines’ intention is to intimidate and recover what they perceive to be lost revenue.”
Webber, however, thinks hidden-city tickets are almost impossible to track. But with the adoption of new technology, that will not stay that way for long. Airlines already have a lot of information they can cull from frequent flier records. Indeed, airlines have met passengers at their arriving flight and escorted them on to their next segment.
Getting caught, Harteveldt adds, may mean having to buy a last-minute ticket that costs more than the amount you were trying to save. Travel agencies could lose the ability to ticket on an airline if they book hidden-city fares. Plus, airlines could share the names of hidden-city flyers with their partners or ban the passenger, he adds.
Benét Wilson, a writer who covers travel and credit card rewards for online loan marketplace LendingTree, says it is a case of doing it at your own peril. “I do understand how travelers feel about airline pricing and the fact it looks as if they are trying to rip them off. But it really depends on where you live. If you live at a hub, prices are higher. It’s called capitalism. I also understand the temptation to balance that, but you need to realise you can be sued, you can lose all your frequent flier miles, which has happened. They could cancel your membership.”
And she sums up her opinion of the issue succinctly. “Don’t hate the player,” she says. “Hate the game.”
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