In the previous installment we talked about how Hidden City Revenue Ticket can be booked. Let's see how we can apply the same to book award tickets with hidden city which can either reduced the "fuel surcharges" or the "number of miles" required for the award. Below are the traits of booking such an award:
Lets see the usage of above with few examples:
Going from South Asia to Central Asia using United Miles:
United typically charges 35k/60k/110k miles in Economy/Business/First respectively for travel between South Asia region and Central Asia region yet it only charges 20k/35k/45k miles for travel wholly within "South Asia" region. As you can see from below a trip from Kathmandu (KTM) to Bangkok (BKK) requires 35k miles in Economy and 60k
Now, lets try one of the "hidden city" concept to see if we can reduce the price. Let's see what happens if we change our destination to Colombo (CMB) which is in South Asia region.
As you can see from above the mileage cost has reduced from 35k/60k to 20k/35k and you are still travelling via Bangkok (BKK). The idea here is you can book the flight from Kathmandu to Colombo via Bangkok and can get down at Bangkok as long as you do not have any checked-in Bags and have "visa" for Colombo (you will need Colombo visa to board the flight from Kathmandu).
Going from North America to South Pacific using Delta Skymiles:
Most of you would consider Delta Skymiles to be useless but one of the sweet redemption is travelling to Australia on Virgin Australia using Delta Skymiles. You can only book Delta flights round trip but can have one-stop over and one open-jaw in the route. Ideally Delta would charge 100k/160k in Economy/Business to fly Australia as shown below:
Lets now change to destination in some other region where Virgin Australia flies. How about some another vacation spot? If you change the destination to Bali (DPS) which is in Southeast Asia you can reduce the mileage cost to 80k/140k in Economy/Business as shown below:
As you can see there are quite a few opportunities which reduces the mileage cost with the help of "Hidden City Ticketing". On similar lines changing the destination to something which has "low fuel surcharge" when booking through mileage currency from programs such as ANA or Aeroplan which typically levies fuel surchage can provide good amount of savings.
So, look around for such opportunities before you book your next vacation.
Either you are occasional traveler or a regular traveler looking to travel on the high demand route, knowing hidden city ticketing could help you save $$ for your next trip or reduce the cost to some extent. So what does the "Hidden City Ticketing Mean"?
The idea of Hidden City ticketing is knowing the cheaper or "low fare" markets around the "high demand / high cost" market and using it to our advantage on saving the cost. Let's see few examples:
San Francisco (SFO) to Los Angeles (LAX) for close in Thursday Evening ticket (08/21)
A quick search on ITA Matrix gives the below results. As you can see the price is pretty much standard across the board to be $210 (whoops!!). I have purposefully shown details of one of the flight and soon you will see why?
Now let's check out some of the so called "low demand" markets around LAX and see if that gives any better pricing. The way to do this is, enter "LAX" in advance routing code field as highlighted below and let's change the destination to San Diego (SAN). Check out the below screenshot for pricing..
As you can see from above, the direct flight from SFO to LAX on AA1143 was costing $210, but now the same flight is available for $152, if you decide to booked SFO - LAX - SAN route. There are few important things you should remember before you decide to fly SFO - LAX only for $152.
As you can see you saved almost 33% flying the same Airlines you wanted, but with the help of hidden city ticketing. The concept could be applied to other routes and destinations as well. Also if you fly "hub-to-hub" you might want to check the "non-hub" location for savings (as the routing would be always through hub! ).
Ever wondered, which airline flies which route and what are the flight options for the given city? Would that not be much easier if there was single source or page listing all the flights departing a airport? or showing flight details between two city pair?. Although no single website exists which could satisfy this needs there are several resources which could help you find that info. Below are some of the useful websites which can help you get that info, which would help you finalize that missing puzzle of your successful award or revenue travel.
Currently in beta flightconnections will help you find what are the "destinations" served from the airport of your desire and if you key in source/destination pair the available airline/flight options between those two airport/city pair. Of-course you could click on one of those airlines and go to one of their "affiliate" booking web-page, but at least you get the info you need.
Open Flights is like a wikipedia of flights. As it is open-source it is maintained by community of volunteers, and thus would have good info albeit some of the info might be wrong. The interesting part is you could view or list flights from a given "airport" or "city" and the data could be either seen as a map or read as a list. You can even sort the data as well as filter per the "airlines". As seen from below snapshots!
This tool would be useful if you know the source and destination as well as the dates of your travel and want to know all the available flight options. So, although limited compared to open flights or flightconnection it is still useful as it can quickly list all the options on various airlines as can be seen from below search.
This website requires a little more info before spitting out the route-map but it is useful if you are looking for a route map by "region" or "airline". You could plug in your short-listing criteria and get set of route-maps which are available. You can see a simple search for American Airlines below yields links to various route maps by region as well detailed info on the "hubs".
Airline Route Mapper
Airline route mapper is another tool which was created by flyertalk member cockpitvisit. You need to download this tool but it does list a fairly comprehensive and updated route map. So, if you are one of those who do lot of search and do not mind installing this tool on your laptop/desktop then this is for you.
Apart from above there is a route map (which might be a little limited in its usage but still useful) for One World Alliance routes which can be found here and Star Alliance routes which can be found here.
In the miles/points collection one of the important ingredients is having credit cards which provide category spend bonuses. This would help speed up the collection time as well as reduces the overall cost for earning points/miles. Some of these might be limited time offer while others would be limited to $dollar amount cap you could earn in a given year or a quarter. Still having these cards would get you going faster then not having them in your arsenal. Below is the list of few cards which has great potential in maximizing your miles/points earnings! (I have purposefully omitted the cards which have 5% rotating category bonus which changes every quarter. Some of them are Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend, Discover It.
Old Blue Cash:
This card gives 5% category bonus at U.S. Supermarkets, U.S. Stand alone Gas stations and Select U.S. Drug Stores which are classified as "Everyday Purchases" after you hit initial spend of $6500 on the card. This card is not available for application directly from the American Express Website, but you could still get to working application. Below are some interesting details:
You need to click on the "link" in Chrome Incognito mode to load the application. Similarly you could use "private browsing mode of other browsers". You can get more detailed information on this flyertalk thread.
Blue Cash Preferred:
This card is newer version of "Old Blue Cash" and gives 6% cash back at U.S. Supermarkets up to $6000 of spend per year (after that only 1% cashback), 3% cash back at stand alone U.S. gas stations, and certain department stores without any cap limits (details about different stores and Supermarkets eligible can be found here).
Wells Fargo Rewards Card:
This card gives 5 rewards points/$ spend or 5% cash back for gas, groceries and drugstore purchases without any cap for the first 6 months you have this card. After that the cash back goes to 1% only. Also note that the folks who had any credit card from Wells Fargo earlier are excluded from getting this bonus. Since there is no spend cap, it is real good for folks who are heavy on spending and can maximize this limited time promotion. You can redeem the reward points for travel and get good value based on your redemption. For more discussion about this card check out this flyertalk thread.
This is another limited time promotional card which gives 10% cash back on gas purchases (maximum $1000 purchase) and after that 5% unlimited cash back on gas, groceries and drug store purchases for the first 90 days of keeping this card. After first 90 days you earn 1% cash back on all the purchases regardless of category. In my personal view having this bonus available for first 90 days only is a limiting factor but still would be useful for some folks who would have niche for high spending within the 5% category for the 90 days of promotion period.
Ink Bold and Ink Plus Business Card:
Given that both Ink Bold (Charge Card where you need to pay your card balance in full) and Ink Plus (Credit Card) are Business Cards, this might not be something available to all the folks. But given that these cards provide "5% cash back at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year" up to first $50,000 spend each year makes them a "must-have" cards for lot of folks. Also these points can be transferred to lot of Ultimate Rewards partner airlines & hotels or can be redeemed as statement credit for 1:1 basis or can be used to book travel through Ultimate Rewards Travel for 1:1.25 ratio makes them really valuable.
Also currently (as of 08/03/2014) there is 70,000 points bonus offer after $5k spend in 3 months available at chase branches for the Ink Plus Credit Card Application for new applicants. So, if this is something you are looking for it would be a good time to get this card.
Disclosure - None of the above links provide me with any referral credit or bonus. Some of the links might not give the best sign-on bonus available. Credit Card application requires your own due diligence and is worth only if you pay your bills on time and in full. Thanks for reading!
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