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.

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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


AllianzTravelInsurance.com

 

 

 

 

Do you ever take long flights, especially international flights?

Have you ever put your things in the seat back pocket in front of you, or left anything behind on the plane? If so you may want to check out this fabulous new travel accessory that simplifies airline travel and keeps you your important bits and pieces organized, together, and germ free…

Seat Back pro

If you haven’t yet made your first international flight you may be unaware of all the items you need on hand during a long flight. Things that can easily disappear or get left behind. Thousands of ipads, laptops, cell phones, prescription glasses, wallets, headphones and other valuables get left on planes every month, winding up in the Bermuda Triangle of the airline lost and found department.

Most of these items get left in the seatback pocket, but others slip to the floor and slide under seats.

In Flight Travel Pouch

On an international flight you will need to have your passport out to fill in arrival and customs forms, you will need a pen, lip balm or chapstick, disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, Kleenex. Maybe you need eye drops, cough drops, a travel toothbrush, Advil – you get the picture. Many small, losable, moving parts.

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Typically you don’t want a bulky bag at your feet taking up valuable legroom, and if you do have a handbag or pack at your feet you won’t necessarily see if something falls out during your flight. Or worse, it can tip over and have everything fall out.

SEat back pro

This is where passengers utilize the germy, black hole that is the seat pocket. Pay attention for 5 minutes and you will never go near that beast again! (Just watch passengers and what they do with the seat pocket…) What do you think people do when they blow their nose on a plane, or cough up phlegm? Any repulsive, gross, germy detritus that humans want out of their hands gets put into the seat pocket.

With that in mind I needed to find an effective way to keep all my inflight belongings organized and easily accessible. I get a lot of travel supplies at The Container Store, and while shopping there a few years back I got a really good bag that suspended from the tray table, giving me a place for all my belongings and circumventing my need to use the germ fest otherwise known as the seat pocket.

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It was a really good device, but it was bulky, doubled as a shoulder bag (that I never used) and when I landed I found it quite cumbersome to try and put into my carryon or suitcase.

Seat Back Pro

I just bought this new Seat Pak Pro from The Container Store for my Summer 2018 travels. It works the same way as my old one, hanging from the tray table fastener, but is much less bulky.

I’m taking this one with me on my summer 2018 Glam Italia Tours, and no doubt all the rest of my flights too.

Seat Back pro

Here is what I like about it.

  1. It is slimline, so when I arrive at my destination I can either slip it into my suitcase or into my carry on bag, without dealing with the bulkiness I had with my old one.
  2. It opens all the way so I can see everything easily rather than having to feel my way around the inside of a dark bag on a dark plane. (It’s always when the lights are out that you need that one thing in the bottom of your bag.)
  3. It has the right types of sections for the things you need, with a section for your pen, another for your smartphone, a large pocket for a tablet, sections for passport and documents, headphones and electronics, and 2 other random sections.
  4. The passport section zippers closed. Having your passport slip out of any bag would be a nightmare. With this bag you know exactly where it is, and it can’t fall out.
  5. The iPad section has a fastener, so my iPad won’t slip out or start slipping out while I’m trying to zip everything up and get off the plane.
  6. The fabric is lightweight but strong, and is easy to clean. It’s important to have a strong fabric that won’t tear and that you can clean easily if something gets spilled on it.
  7. It is really well constructed. This is super important! You need an inflight bag that won’t fall apart. I have seen some that are quite flimsy, and can tear easily or get holes in them. I’m a big believer that all of our travel gear should be well constructed and hold up to a beating.

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Find the Seat Pak Pro HERE at The Container Store

Here is an affiliate link for The Container Store online

I hope this was helpful to you!
Happy Travels!

It’s no secret – I live to travel. When I am on my flight home I am already planning the next adventure. My love of traveling to Italy lead to my “accidental business,”  the Glam Italia Tours, where I take small groups of women on private, boutique tours of Italy. At the time of writing this post I am also prepping for a quick, pre-Christmas trip to Europe. Not only is travel always on my mind, but I’m also constantly thinking about the accoutrements of travel. I am always looking for ways to make it more effective, for items to streamline the experience, both for myself and also for my travelers.

If you are a travel enthusiast, if you have business travelers on your shopping list, or if you have recreational travelers on your list, I have some fabulous wish list and gift ideas for you.

Gift Ideas For Travelers

Tech

A Multi Purpose Travel Adaptor

You probably already know that when traveling outside of the USA the voltage and the configuration of the electricity pins changes. You can’t plug your American electronics into foreign power points, and in America we are at 110 volts, but most of Europe and Australasia are at 220 volts. This means that you need an adaptor that lets you plug into the wall socket wherever you may be, but also that will convert the voltage and give it surge protection. If you just have the plug configuration the excess voltage will no doubt fry your electronics.

all in one travel adaptor

I have had several different adaptors over the years, some have been good, some have broken. Last year I bought the Travel Smart All In One Adaptor from The Container Store I like it because it converts all over the world, no matter where I travel, it is easy to use and is lightweight, so I can throw it in my handbag or carry on.

A Power Strip Or Outlet Extender

travel swivel charger

It’s not unusual to be away and have a hotel room that only has one wall socket. The Belkin Surge Plus USB Swivel Outlet Extender has 2 USB charging ports as well as 3 power outlets, and it swivels to configure into any small space. I got mine online at The Container Store.

A Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Music makes memories, and whether you are adding texture to a vacation or sanity to a work trip, take your music with you with a good wireless portable speaker. Most are compatible to your Pandora and Spotify feeds, as well as whatever music you have stored on your smart phone.

wireless speaker

There is a huge selection of portable speakers available online at Target.com

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Noise Cancelling Headphones

Whether you are drowning out the buzz and hum of an airplane in flight, a screaming baby, or annoying loud talkers in the row behind you, noise cancelling headphones are a must when you travel.

bose noise cancelling earbuds

I am a huge Bose fan, and love the Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds. The Bose sound quality is always amazing, and they are really convenient too because they pack down so small.

bose noise cancelling headphones

The other option for noise cancelling headphones is an around ear model. These are a little bulkier to carry  than the earbud style, but they have the huge advantage of being a deterrent to incessant talkers sitting next to you.

You can see a huge selection of noise cancelling headphones, including the Bose models online at Target.com

A Portable Phone Battery/Charger

This one is a travel essential! Every traveler needs to have an external battery for their phone. Whether your phone loses its charge during the flight, or if it just needs extra power during a day of sight seeing, you don’t want to be stranded with no phone access. Look for a model that has multiple charges (rather than just one charge), and that can power up a phone or tablet from a completely dead battery.

phone charger external battery

You can find a good selection of chargers/external batteries at Target.com 

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A Tablet/Kindle/eReader

ipad for travel

The days of dragging heavy books around are long gone. Every traveler needs some form of e-reading device, for books, travel guides, and entertainment. I use an iPad so that I can also watch movies and play solitaire, one of my friends travels with an iPad Mini, my sister in law always has a Kindle with her.

You can see the full range of iPads and tablets and the full range of Kindles available online here at Target.com.

Security

RFID Blockers.

Everyone, not just travelers, needs some form of RFID blocker to protect their credit cards and all their personal information. Anyone with a RFID scanner can read all the information on the magnetic strip on your credit cards, and the digital information on your passport. A scanner is about the size of a cell phone, and if you just walk past one, for example in a coffee shop, all your information will be taken and compromised. The Container Store has a variety of RFID blocking options from credit card and passport sleeves, to wallets, to handbags.

RFID credit card sleeve

I just watched this video for the Travelon Anti Theft Cross Body Bag.

travelon anti theft crossbody bag

I want to get one! Most high tourist cities have a big problem with pickpockets. Any time you are in a crowded situation you have to be extra vigilant with your handbag, but still someone could slash it, slash the shoulder strap, or if you have ever watched you tube videos of pickpockets in action, they can get their fingers in and out of your bag before you even know it. This bag also has built in RFID blockers!

 

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