When I fly to Europe I always start my trip in Los Angeles, where I don’t live, instead of Phoenix, where I do live. It saves me as much as $800 on my round trip flight. I will fly to L.A on Southwest airlines for around $50 each way and with no checked luggage fee (yay Southwest!) which means my total flight cost goes up, but I still end up saving $650+ on my airfare.

Sometimes as stupid as it may seem, my flight from L.A routes back through Phoenix on its way to or from Europe.

But it costs me massively less money to not start or finish my air travel here. I can’t just get on the plane in Phoenix and I can’t just get off it here either, unless I want to pay hundreds of dollars more.

Last year my flight from Rome to JFK got delayed and so I missed my connecting flight. The fabulous person from Delta Airlines told me “Honey this is just plain dumb. I’m putting you on a direct flight to Phoenix!”, saving me hours of extra travel time.

Theoretically I could have just deplaned at Phoenix anyway (if I didn’t have checked bags), making it a hidden city flight, but I had bags checked through to Los Angeles, so that tactic wouldn’t have worked. So God bless the Delta Airlines transfer desk staff!

But it brings me to what I want to talk to you about today, and that is Hidden City Flights, or Hidden City Ticketing, and what you need to know about them.

What You Need To Know About Hidden City Flights

Hidden City Flights

What Is A Hidden City Flight?

So what exactly is a hidden city flight??

Say you want to fly from Los Angeles To Philadelphia and the ticket costs $795. (I’m making up prices for the sake of the example). Then when you dig a little deeper you find a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago that routes through Philly, for $375. You could buy the cheaper L.A – Philly – Chicago flight and just get off at the Philly stopover, saving yourself $420. Philadelphia would be the “hidden city”.

Hidden city ticketing or booking a hidden city flight in this example would be booking that flight to Chicago, but not continuing past Philadelphia.

Seems smart, right? Maybe not…

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Are There Restrictions?

If you were to book a hidden city flight there are some restrictions you would need to be aware of.

Cabin Bags Only

You can’t check bags if you are doing a hidden city flight. When you check luggage it gets checked through to your final destination, so in the above scenario the suitcase would go to Chicago and you would be in Philly.

Taking carry on only can be tricky too – if the overhead bins are small or if they are full the gate agent may have to check your bag before you can get on the plane. They don’t check it to the next stop, they check it to the final stop.

One Way Only

You can only do this on one way flights. If you miss a leg of your flight it cancels out the entirety of the rest of your ticket. So with the example above had you purchased a round trip Los Angeles to Chicago flight you would forfeit everything after that first Philly stop.

No Frequent Flier Miles

You can’t use your frequent flier miles when you do this. There is a chance that the airline will invalidate your frequent flier account if you do.

If There’s An International Connection

If you are part of a flight plan that is international you will need to have your passport and any required visas for the final destination.

Here is an example, and again I am making this up. If you wanted to go from Seattle to Chicago and the airfare was $725 but you found a super cheap flight from Seattle to Iceland for $300, and the flight plan was Seattle – Chicago – Rekyavik you would have to show your passport at check in, even though the flight to Iceland was departing from Chicago. Technically once you landed in Chicago you would be walking to a transfer gate, and not passing back through airport security.

Even though we don’t need a travel visa for Iceland, for the sake of the example let’s pretend that a US passport required an entry visa for Iceland, you would had to have acquired it prior to going to the airport.

RELATED POST: WHY IT’S BETTER TO BE A TRAVELER THAN A TOURIST

Is It Legal?

A website called Skiplagged uses this technique to get cheap flights. Both Orbitz and United Airlines have filed federal lawsuits against Skiplagged, but lost due to a technicality. The contract is between the passenger and the airline, not Skiplagged and the airline. Sooooo you could be the one on the hook.

As far as I know (and I’m not a lawyer) using this loophole is not illegal. It is controversial, is probably unethical, and can have consequences.

Airplane

Consequences

The Visa Application

There is a chance that you could be breaking the law with your visa application. I haven’t had to do one for a while, but last time I did I had to specify the dates that I would be in the other country, and provide a reason for my travel. You could be opening yourself up to a world of trouble. Without knowing the specific legalities I would emphatically advise against it. You just don’t know when something like this could come back to haunt you.

Re-Routing

Planes sometimes get re-routed. There can be many reasons why, from weather to a passenger getting sick during the flight, to an airplane issue, to a terror threat, to who only knows what else. If you fly often enough you will at some point run into re-routed flights.

Using our L.A – Philly – Chicago example you could find that there was a maintenance problem with that plane so now all the Chicago passengers are being put on a plane that is going from L.A to Dulles to Chicago, and the Philly passengers are being put on a later flight. You would have no recourse in this situation, and the airline would not have to get you on a plane to Philadelphia.

Global Priority and TSA Pre-Check

Everything you do is tracked now, so you have to question whether you are jeopardizing your Global Priority or TSA Pre Check status, or perhaps making yourself ineligible to get them down the line. Just because you don’t have or want them now doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.

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Ethics

There is an ethical question involved with this too, and this is what really bothers me with the concept. If the airline hasn’t been informed that you are not getting back on board, the plane will sit there on the tarmac while they try to find you. There are layers of follow on problems that can cause for other passengers.

Those who are on their way to an international connection can miss that flight, causing them to lose the first day/days of their vacation.

Passengers with a tight connection to another domestic flight can end up missing it because everyone is searching for you.

Airport security now has to find a missing passenger inside an airport terminal – just think for a minute as to how much chaos that can create. In a post 9/11 world I have zero patience or tolerance for any airport hijinx.

The plane can’t take off until they are certain that you didn’t have any checked bags and that you haven’t left anything on board.

These days most of the flights that I go on seem to be full, which means that there is a good chance that someone else needed that seat that you disappeared from.

Conclusion

I fly a lot and would not be willing to take the risk of doing a hidden city flight. I am always working the angles, looking for cheaper ways to fly and looking for the best possible deals, and although this may initially sound like a good idea I don’t think it’s worth it.

I am also a huge advocate for on-time flights and air travel safety, so although I get that its a money saving concept, it doesn’t sit well with me. I wouldn’t do it.

What are your thoughts?

Have you read my book? Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is available worldwide on Amazon.com


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I have written about which shoes are best to wear in Europe before. I wrote about the best summer shoes  and also about winter shoes to wear in Europe, both of which I will re-link at the bottom of this post. A series of events happened last week that made me decide to write a post about the best pair of sandals I have ever worn in Europe.

This is not a sponsored post. This post does contain affiliate links

Venice Grand Canal

My sandals in Venice in June 2017

I wore the same pair of sandals everyday in Europe last summer on my May/June Glam Italia Tours, I wore them half the time in Paris in September (I wore these Adidas sneakers the days I didn’t wear my sandals), and then I wore them every day for a month this past June on this year’s Glam Italia Tours.

Portofino Italy

June 2017 in Portofino Italy

A Confluence Of Events.

1. My week started with an email from one of my blog readers. She was in Florence and had been doing everything on the list from my 10 Things You Absolutely Must Do In Florence blog post. She was super excited about it all  and ended her email with “oh by the way, I got those Sofft sandals that you, and you’re right – they are the most comfortable shoes ever!”

2. Then when I was looking through my photos from Venice trying to find something to put in my Don’t Be A Tourist In Venice post I kept noticing my sandals in every photo that showed my feet.

3. Finally, I was scrolling through the notes on my phone and found a page where I had bee keeping a total of the steps and the flights of stairs I was doing each day in Italy. I was pretty wowed at just how many miles I walk on my tours, and more wowed that these shoes not only didn’t fall apart, but are still going strong!

Burano Island

Walking in Burano, Venice in my Sofft Mirabelle sandals, June 2018

Which Sandal Is It??

This is the sandal in question. It is the Mirabelle by Sofft. Here is the affiliate link: sofftshoe.com sandals page

 

Why Do I Love This Sandal?

So here is what I love about this sandal:

*It is unbelievably comfortable. If you have been to Europe before than you already know that you spend your days walking and walking, so you need a good cushy sole to not only protect your foot but also to cushion the pressure on your lower back. Also you are walking on cobble-stoned streets and uneven surfaces, both of which put extra hardship on both your feet and your shoes.

*It takes zero breaking in – the leather is super soft but still good and strong. No blisters, no rubbing, no hurting your feet, yet at the same time offering really great support. You can put the Sofft Mirabelle on straight out of the box and walk all day long with no problems at all.

* It goes with everything. My rule is only 3 pairs of shoes can go with me on a trip, which means I need shoes and sandals that can work with everything I am going to wear. I have the Mirabelle in the color pictured above which is called Luggage.

*It is well made. This sandal is really well made. Even with the non-stop walking up and down hills and the average of 25,000 steps per day, the sole hasn’t pulled apart, the sandal hasn’t ripped and it hasn’t lost its shape.

Shop Sofftshoe Site today!

Paris book stalls along Seine

Walking along the left bank in Paris in the 6th arrondissement. Sometime in 2017

So How Many Miles Have My Sofft Mirabelles Done?

This blew my mind! In 2017 my Sofft Mirabelle sandals did 3 Glam Italia Tours and two Glam Paris Tours. In Paris I wore them half the time on one tour and every day on the other.

Paris, Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris, sometime in 2017

In 2018 they have done two Glam Italia Tours.

I also wear them at home in Phoenix on photoshoots, commercials, ad campaigns, music videos and other long days when I am shooting in studios with concrete floors.

I haven’t kept track of the steps I do here in Phoenix each day but in Europe I am always keeping an eye on it.

In June 2018 on my Glam Italia Tours I walked 158 miles total. So that is about 79 miles per tour, give or take. (I have 2 days in between each tour, arrive 2 days before the tours start and stay on for a few days after they are over. I walk and walk all day long on these days, checking out new places and seeing new things).

Mirabelle by Sofft

Florence, 2017

Working with that average and adding in 3 Glam Italia Tours in 2017, that’s another 237 miles in Italy alone, without factoring in my Paris tours.

Just adding the Italy numbers that’s 395 miles!!! Put into perspective the distance from Phoenix to Los Angeles is 360 miles.

Piazza San Marco, Venice. June 2018

How many pairs of shoes do you own that could walk from Phoenix to L.A. and still keep going strong??

How Do You Keep The Soles White?

One of my friends turned me onto this cool trick. When soles are looking scuffed and dirty you can clean them back to nearly new by using a little bit of bathroom cleaner or Mr Clean and a cloth or rag. If you have a Mr Clean Magic Eraser handy that works brilliantly too. I don’t clean mine while I’m away, but when I get home they really need it.

I wish I knew someone at Sofft Shoes to show this to – they should be sponsoring  my tours! Or something. Maybe they should be sending me free shoes – none of which is happening by the way. But I do think that at more than 395 miles these sandals probably are the best value for money I have ever had.

Sofftshoe.com offers free shipping on all orders, easy returns, and free exchanges.
Chances are you won’t be putting your sandals through the hard work I put mine through, but regardless, these are a great buy!

RELATED POST: THE BEST SHOES AND SANDALS TO WEAR IN EUROPE THIS SUMMER

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Don’t be a tourist in Venice.

Be a traveler.

Venice, the most unique city on earth, gets a reported 25-30 million visitors per year.

Venice grand canal

Most tourists spend only 8 hours in Venice, coming in with a cruise or day trip.

I admit to being guilty of bringing some of my Glam Italia Tour groups in for just one day when the itinerary won’t permit a longer visit. The way I see it, to spend only one day in Venice is a crime, but to miss Venice all together is a worse crime!

Sometimes I get lucky and am able to stay in La Serenissima for several days. I was there for a week recently and with some days to myself was able to observe tourist culture in Venice from many different angles. Unfortunately I found that unlike my little groups who are perpetually in awe of this magnificent place, and who are respectful and polite, there are an enormous number of tourists who come here and treat Venice appallingly.

RELATED POST: DON’T BE A TOURIST, BE A TRAVELER

I worry about Venice. I worry that it may not still be around for my grandchildren, should I have any.

I worry when I watch the wake from the cruise ships splash up against the walls of buildings that are slowly sinking.

You should treat every place you travel to with respect, especially Venice.

How To Not Be A Tourist In Venice

1. Don’t Take A Cruise.

The average cruise ship holds 3000-4000 people, all of whom converge on a very small area of the city at once. The day I left Venice I went past the cruise ships and counted 5 of them, which means that day there were probably 15,000 – 20,000 cruisers descending on the city and hovering in the same small neighborhood.

Imagine that in your neighborhood at home! It would be awful.

The problem with this is that Venice was not designed or built to cope with this influx of thousands of humans. In my opinion the cruise ships are contributing to the demise of the most unique city in the world.

 

2. Don’t Crowd The Bridges.

The connection between the cruise ships and the bridges is significant. Venice is a series of tiny islands connected by bridges. These bridges were not built to take the weight of the thousands of tourists pouring over them from the cruise ships, and the volume of people is contributing to the destruction of the bridges.

Not all the tourists are from cruise ships, plenty come in by train as well.

One thing to remember when crossing the bridges in Venice is that these are the thoroughfares over which the people who live here go about their daily life. This is how they go to and from work, to and from their appointments, to and from everywhere they go during their day. Can you even imagine how annoying it must be to try and get to where you need to go and be stuck in the middle of a tourist crowd?

Be respectful when crossing the bridges.

3. Don’t Throw Trash In The Canals.

It is ridiculous to even have to say this, but don’t throw trash in the canals. While I was there this summer I was horrified to see all the plastic bottles and food wrappers hitting the banks of the canals with the tide.

If you watch the locals moving around the city you will notice they don’t carry plastic water bottles with them and they don’t walk around eating fast food. That is the domain of the tourists, and it is tourists who are throwing this  trash into the canals.

 4. Explore Different Sestieri

Venice Canals

Wandering Venice, not a tourist in sight

Venice is divided into 6 neighborhoods or sestieri. (One sestiere, 2 or more sestieri) Cannaregio, the largest, stretches from the Santa Lucia train station to the Rialto Bridge. Santa Croce, the oldest and least touristy abuts San Polo, the sestiere that runs between Santa Croce and the Dorsoduro. San Polo is home to the Rialto fish market and Dorsoduro is home to the easily recognizable Guggenheim museum and Santa Maria della Salute church.

Canals in Venice

San Marco meets Cannaregio at the Rialto Bridge and encompasses the area of Piazza San Marco, the Basilica, The Doges Palace and Bridge of Sighs, before it meets Castello the sestiere that ends at the lagoon, with the Arsenale shipyards and the Fondamente Nove vaporetto stop, which is the gateway to Murano, Burano and Castello.

Venice Canals

Most tourists stay in the area from the Rialto Bridge to the far side of St Mark’s Square. That wouldn’t be such a big deal except that we are talking about a very small area and an enormous number of people.

Venice has so much to offer and so many beautiful things to see. Get out of San Marco and go explore some of the other sestieri. This is where you will see the magic of the city. When you wander along the smaller canals and the less tourist-populated parts of Venice you will fall in love with it. The cost of food and drinks is drastically less outside of San Marco than in San Marco, the walkways and bridges are not congested, and this is where you will find the artisan shops instead of the made-in-China merchandise that has flooded the market.

5. Explore The Other Islands.

Burano Island

Walking in Burano

The islands of Murano, Burano, Torcello and Lido are all fabulous and easily accessible by vaporetto.

You may not think about a day at the beach while in Venice, but the beaches on the Adriatic side of Lido Island are fabulous! The water is warm and the beach is clean.

Beach Lido venice

Beach day on Lido Island, Venice

Although it looks similar to colorful Burano, Murano is quite different. Either island is a fabulous place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quiet lunch.

 

RELATED POST: WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT TORCELLO

Torcello is very different again. The island is small and the main attraction, the basilica, is spectacular.

Torcello Island

6. Buy From Artisans.

Don’t buy cheap, knock off, tourist souvenirs. The vendor stands in Piazza San Marco and along the waterfront, and the cheap souvenir shops all sell cheap trinkets made in China. This is not merchandise made in Venice, and not only does it not help the Venetian economy, it hurts it. Venetian merchants have had to move out of the city, their shops taken over by the sellers of this junk.

Why not be respectful, wander the other sestieri, and buy from the remaining Venetian artisans in their artisan stores. Before it’s too late.

7. Hire Local Guides.

Italian guides have to be licensed. They are required to have degrees in Italian history or in art history. They study hard and work hard to earn the right to be an official guide. Here is an excerpt from the SeeVenice.it website:

The exam was really hard and it took months to pass all its steps. Written exams, oral exams, compositions about the history, the art and the city in all its aspects. Its museums, churches, palaces, even the ones that no longer exist… all its narrow alleyways! And of course, that wonderful and complex environment, the Venetian lagoon. And wait, let’s not forget there’s more. Language tests, three languages spoken fluently required. University degree required.

When Luisella from SeeVenice.it took her exams hundreds of people applied, only 26 were approved. Tour guiding here is a serious profession. Make sure the guides you hire are licensed local guides in Venice, not interlopers.

** A word to the wise. Venice is very small and all the professional guides know one another. Non-licensed guiding in Venice is forbidden.

*** Disclaimer: I don’t know Luisella and haven’t booked See Venice for my tours. I work with another guide in Venice. However, if I am quoting her website it is only fair that I put a link to it. And face it, in order to be a licensed guide in Venice you have to be both qualified and good, so I don’t hesitate to refer her!

RELATED POST: 15 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN VENICE

8. Eat The Local Cuisine

Venice cicchetti

Cicchetti is the tapas like finger food famous in Venice. This cicchetti bar was in San Polo along a little side street.

Italian cuisine is entirely regional. The food is different everywhere you go in Italy and one of the big tourist mistakes is ordering what we here in the USA consider to be Italian food, regardless of where you are.

Fritto Misto Venice

Fritto Misto and salad for lunch.

Lasagna and pizza are not Venetian foods, so don’t order them here. Try cicchetti, (the local version of tapas), baccala’, and the famous local pastries. My book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy has a chapter devoted to Italian cuisine with a region by region guide to what to eat, where.

On the subject of eating…

9. Know Where You Can’t Eat.

There are places where it is not ok to eat. Don’t eat sitting on the steps of churches, on monuments or the steps of monuments, or on the steps of bridges. This is actually punishable by fine. If you want to have a picnic or eat while on the go, there are plenty of open spaces, parks and benches to find a good spot at and have a meal with a view.

Piazza San Marco is considered to be a monument. You can eat at an outdoor café or restaurant there but technically you cannot just buy a sandwich and a drink and hang out in the piazza eating.

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10. Don’t Feed The Pigeons

Piazza San Marco is famous for its pigeons. You can stand in the piazza with your arms out wide and pigeons will land on you. To me, pigeons are flying rats, so I would rather die than have them on me, but plenty of tourists enjoy the idea of having pigeons land on them.

spritz aperol venice

A fearless pigeon stealing pretzels from our table.

Just don’t feed them. Venetian pigeons are quite aggressive. They are used to tourists feeding them and will fly up and try to steal food from your table. So as a sign of respect, don’t feed them.

spritz aperol venice

Flying of to raid the next table

11. Swimming and Swimwear.

Swimming in canals, bathing in the fountains, and wearing swimwear in the streets is both forbidden and punishable by fine. There are great beaches on Lido island if you want to swim. And no matter how hot it is, it is never appropriate to wander around town in your swimwear. Have a little respect.

Before you say that cruise tourism is funding the city, stop and think for a moment. The thousands of tourists arriving on ships every week aren’t filling the local hotels. They aren’t eating breakfast or dinner in Venice. They buy a gelato, and maybe some lunch, then buy some made-in-China trinkets before heading back to the ship. Some will buy tickets into museums and the Doge’s Palace. A few will spend money on gondola rides. But when you weigh out the dollars coming in versus the damage cost to the most unique city on earth, a city already facing the reality of sinking, is the cruise business really worth it?

What are your thoughts on tourism in Venice? Let me know in the comments below.