WHAT are “Hidden City” Airfares?

Let’s say my sainted grandmother passes away in Charlotte.   I live in Denver, and I’ve got to get there NOW to pay my respects and help with the arrangements.  So do I buy a ticket to Charlotte?  NO, I’m gonna buy my ticket to Fort Lauderdale.   Why would I do such a thing?  Because a short-notice, one-way ticket to Charlotte cost $261 (not a bad fare, really), but the ticket to Fort Lauderdale only costs $111…and the flight has a connection in Charlotte.  So when I get to Charlotte, I walk off the plane, out of terminal, and on to Grandma’s house.

Some time next week I’m gonna need to get home to Denver, but I’ll buy my ticket to Las Vegas or Phoenix…because those fares are only $60 (60 lousy bucks!), with a connection in Denver, while the fare just to Denver is $251.  Over all I will have spent just $171 for the round trip…a savings of  $341.00!  That two-thirds off!

This is the magic of “Hidden City” airfares when applied correctly to the jumbled mess of airfares the airlines offer us today.  This legal loophole (which the airlines hate to allow) is usable all over the country, and in many other parts of the world.  The nature of airline  hub-and-spoke route networks, while creating some important efficiencies for the airlines, also create some wacky inefficiencies in  competitive fares.

Because the airlines hate this trick, they do what they can to thwart you, but there’s not much they can do, except when it comes to your suitcase.  For example, if I tried to check a bag in at the Denver airport, the airline will NOT check it just to Charlotte…they’ll send it all the way to Ft. Lauderdale where it will sit all alone on the baggage carousel waiting for me to pick it up.  Even traveling with just a small carry-on can be dangerous…if the overhead bins are filled before I board, they may force me to “gate check” my bag, and again it may go all the way to Florida.

There are other tips and rules you need to know to successfully travel on a hidden city ticket. Follow AirFareIQ.com (or on Facebook.com/AirFareIQ)  and soon you’ll know all about this tricky but perfectly legal loophole!