Plane, air tickets, passport, notebook and phone with headphones on pastel background. The view from the top. The concept of planning and preparing for the travel

They say it’s often not the event, but the reaction which determines history. Earlier this year, Lufthansa attempted to sue a passenger for intentionally using hidden city ticketing, more commonly known as “skiplagging” to save money on flights.

It was pretty much the only time an airline had ever actually taken legal acton, and for many, all it did was fuel the desire to try it, or to learn how they could one day give it a whirl, rather than dissuade people from it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Lufthansa has now lost that court case, which means its open season for the best money saving airfare trick…

Lufthansa First Class ChampagneA Quick Skiplagging And Hidden City Ticketing Refresher…

So what’s hidden city ticketing? It’s basically a trick which saves money on airfare by finding a cheap starting place or ending point, and not going all the way to the final destination. It can turn a $1,000 flight into a $300 flight, or a $10,000 flight into a $1000 flight, sometimes even for the same exact main flight, just with a leg added at the end which you won’t actually take.

It can mean flying business class for less than what you would’ve paid for economy, which is more than enough ammunition for  travellers ears to perk up.

For the Lufthansa passenger in question, it was a matter of finding that tickets starting in Oslo were cheaper than elsewhere, so the passenger booked Oslo to Seattle via Frankfurt. The person lives in Berlin, but even so it was still cheaper to buy a separate flight to Oslo to start things off – once you skip a flight you lose out on all the rest – and then connect via Frankfurt. On the way home, he simply jumped off in Frankfurt, ditching the last leg back to Oslo – hence the term “hidden city”.

Hidden City Lawsuit Dropped in Passenger Favour

When Lufthansa sued the passenger in German courts, a lower court said there was no basis and effectively through the lawsuit out. That’s when Lufthansa filed for appeal, kicking off this whole mess and now the appeal has been dropped and Lufthansa has accepted their fate. Lufthansa is far from alone in hating it, in fact United began training employees on how to sniff out hidden city passengers.

In the clearest terms, it means that there is no legal ground for an airline to sue you if you do this, not in Germany at least. They could potentially take away your miles or freeze your loyalty account, but if you don’t state that it was your intention to do this, then there are a million or more valid reasons why you may have legitimately, accidentally missed your flight, and no action should be taken.

The ruling is not universal and any airline could attempt suit in another country, but after seeing how this played out for Lufthansa, I wouldn’t think too many would be weighing that option too favourably. If anything, perhaps airlines have learned that just like the people who actually do skiplagging, the most important rule of skiplagging is not to talk about it, or tell the airline you plan to.

Now that you know it’s all good news, and that it’s not our fault airlines make silly pricing structures, you may want to know more. After all, we’re just players, playing the game they created. Here’s a big breakdown of skiplagging, including the rules of things you absolutely cannot do if you plan to give it a whirl yourself. There’s so much to gain, and with this court ruling – less to lose than ever. Thanks, Lufthansa.

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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10 Comments

  1. That’s one of the things you CAN’T / Shouldn’t do. All bags must be carry on otherwise they go to your final destination.

  2. Maybe I’m foooish/naive, but I will notify the skiplagged gate agent that I’m not doing well and won’t be able to make the final leg. Every time, they’re appreciative.

  3. It’s been years since I hidden city ticketed. I am currently debating whether or not to ditch my last leg of a DL itinerary and just fly home from ATL. The original plan was go fly the full ticket, to a city I’ve never been to, but circumstances have changed.

  4. I wanted to stopover in TPE on a China Airways flight with HKG as the final destination. I was told if I wanted to stopover I would have to upgrade my ticket from Premium Economy to business class. Very expensive (US$370) for a 90 minute flight. Long story short, when I checked in at BNE I simply requested access to my luggage in TPE because I had a “business meeting” in TPE. The check-in agent said no problem as my layover was around 12 hours. My (very large) bags were checked through to TPE and I was able to skip the last leg. The airline did call me and I told them I was unable to take the flight because of work.

  5. On rare occasions, there will be no way for the airline to prove that you intentionally purchased a skiplagged ticket…. and quite probably this is not a major problem for the airlines. After all there are only very few people who are aware of the technique (compared with the vast number of regularly ticketed passengers)…

    The problem occurs when they are able to identify a person who REGULARLY does this. Irrespective of the lawsuit and its outcome, once the airline has identified someone like this, they are at risk of losing their frequent flyer privileges (and miles) and quite possibly to the extent of not being able to purchase tickets on that airline in the future.

    Yes the pricing is illogical – until you realize that they might not be able to offer direct flights to that destination and to compete with other airlines which might have direct flights – need to offer comparable ticket prices…

    You may well want to try it – but don’t complain in future if the airline chooses to punish you for it – and not in court!

    1. I skiplag probably 50 flights a year and haven’t so much as received a phone call from an airline. There is no way to prove intent, even if it happens regularly, because business travellers with no intent switch plans and make changes at a constant rate. There’s no way to distinguish, unless you proclaim it like I just did…

  6. We flew to Bangkok last year and it was the call centre that actually suggested missing the final connection… back to Amsterdam. even telling us to ask for our luggage to be checked only to Heathrow… there was a family n the flight doing the same thing, one a company employee…. thanks go to BA… but I may be more wary in the future.

  7. Its just like the Father of Hidden City tickets said at http://www.i-reroute.com. The Lufthansa lawsuit was NEVER about collecting money,but PR publicity stunt. It was always about creating headlines that scare other newbie travelers from trying it.It was about creating fear about the tactic, which is a con airlines use to lure more money out out flyers. Its similar to “Without me, your 401Ks are down the tubes”…Where have you heard that line before? Yes, its politics and the same tactic: govern by creating fear. Don’t fall for it at the ballot box and don’t fall for it when buying an airline ticket. If hidden city ticketing saves you cash, do it!

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