Lot of folks would have heard about "hidden city ticketing". In short the idea behind hidden city ticketing is to book a ticket to a final destination which is cheaper then your actual destination by using your actual destination as a stopover. So for example you want to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles but the flight to Las Vegas from Dallas via Los Angeles is cheaper and so you book this ticket with intention of getting down at Los Angeles (The hidden city).
So, how about extending this idea on international trip where your real destination is the "hidden city" but it is much cheaper to fly there as a stopover rather than a destination. This would allow you to not only visit your real destination cheaper but would also allow to visit additional city/country for less than the cost to your real destination.
For example you want to fly non-stop Singapore Airlines flight from San Francisco to Singapore (hidden city) but booking a non-stop flight would be expensive. Instead of that you buy a ticket to a destination which Singapore Airline serves via Singapore and is much cheaper. This way you not only visit your real destination but as a bonus you visit an additional city or country at no additional cost. Let's see a real example here:
San Francisco (SFO) to Toyko (NRT) roundtrip with Toyko as the real destination:
Let's say you want to visit Tokyo from San Francisco in Feb 2019. The cheapest ticket to the destination for few dates in Feb 2018 for 10 to 15 days is shown below. As you can see the cheapest for this trip is $726 and that flight has long layover.
How about changing few things here. Instead of flying to Tokyo as a destination how about flying there as a stopover. Let's look at an example by modifying the destination to be a cheaper place and using Tokyo as a stopover. Below is an example with search date used by few trial and error selections.
As you can see from above the flight to Hong Kong (HKG) with return via Tokyo (NRT) is cheaper than the original flight. Although in the above case you need to spend 1 night in Hong Kong but you do get a non-stop flight from Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco (SFO) during return journey from your trip and as a bonus you can visit Hong Kong for 1 night. In fact you can also extend the 1 night stay in Hong Kong to either 2 or 3 days and the cost would not change.
The above idea could be extended to any other destination you want to visit although it may not be available for all the dates. Also you would want to select an airline which has "hub" in your "real destination".
One of the biggest "Con" of this is that you need to be careful of the made up destination as some of them might require a visa to visit but other than that this is perfect travel trick you can use for your next trip.
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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! ).
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