a row of seats in an airplane

The world  is once again zeroing in on clever techniques to save on plane tickets, after Lufthansa made the new for suing a passenger employing a common trick known as skiplagging. With all the extra attention on clever ways to save, Kayak, the popular online travel booking site has launched its newest product, dubbed “hacker fares”. It’s a clever idea, but you should really already be using them…

a row of seats in an airplaneWhat’s a Kayak Hacker Fare?

A Kayak “hacker fare” is a completely legit way of potentially saving on flights. Rather than just buying a round trip on one airline, it creates a round trip made up of two one way tickets, on different airlines in each direction. Sometimes, not always, that will save a bunch of money. This typically works best on regional flights within the USA, Europe, Asia or Pacific, Middle East, Africa and South America. It works extremely well within the US, but likely won’t work from the US to Europe, or vice versa. This technique works in all cabins, from economy to first class.

You Should Already Be Doing This

It’s great that Kayak has taken this age old practice under a wing and given it a name, but you should always look at the cost of booking a round trip versus prices if you book two one way tickets. If you’re going from Singapore to Hong Kong, or anywhere in the world you should always search round trip and then also do a separate search for a one way ticket from starting point to destination, and then another from destination back home. You don’t need to call it a hacker fare either, because it’s just a completely legit practice, and nowhere near as cool as “hacking”.

Best Ways To Play Around

Kayak is a great resource for finding flight deals, as is Google Flights. For playing around, Google Flights allows for more creativity, since you can search from up to seven departure cities and seven arrival cities at once. Here’s how to search for flight deals like a wizard, FYI. Make Kayak’s hacker fares a part of your arsenal, but know that you’re not breaking any rules and in reality, you can book them anywhere, including directly with the airlines…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Kayak has had this for quite a while, I find it doesn’t find the best option for two one way fares all the time, but it works well occasionally and is always worth checking. As you said Kayak is less flexible that google flight, since it can’t search easily for multiple airports simultaneously, price calendars, ect, but it has some good tricks of its own.

    What I find Kayak really helpful for is mixed cabin searches. If you search your round trip as a multi-city search, and select different cabins (let say you want a lie flat bed for a redeye but are OK with economy for the daytime return), it will return the best fare for that structure. Again it doesn’t work accurately 100% of the time, but it is helpful in a pinch without running repeated searches on each airline’s website.

  2. Had to check the date on this article. I was naive enough to think that Kayak always had hacker fares. Maybe not, but certainly for quite a long time.

    What am I missing? How is this considered a launch?

  3. I’m as confused as other commenters, I recall this feature being available for years! Fact checking myself, I found a USA Today article from September 2011: “Kayak.com’s Hacker Fares Save Fliers Cash”

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