Will Airlines Really Ban You For Trying Popular Boise Travel Hack?
It saves travelers money every day. It's not illegal. But it could get you banned from flying your favorite airline if you get caught.
Cost-conscious travelers, who are a little more savvy about how airlines book travel, call it "skip-lagging." It's when you book a flight to one city because it has a layover in the city you want to travel to. Often, these flights are cheaper than booking the flight directly. Airlines tend to discount trips that require you to stop somewhere else because it is inconvenient to the traveler, allowing them to fill seats on two flights instead of just one.
Because Boise isn't a hub, you can't skiplag to Boise, but you can skiplag from Boise and save significant money. The flights that save you the most money are those to nearby major hubs like Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City.
For example, if you want to travel to Salt Lake City on September 23rd, instead of booking the $209 flight on Delta Airlines to SLC, you would book the $89 flight from Boise to Spokane that stops in SLC and get off the plane at your layover. You've saved more than the cost of the trip!
The airlines are furious over people gaming the system they created and are starting to take action against travelers who do. While it isn't illegal, it is against airline policies, and because of that, they can cancel your return flight. The airlines are upset because they would rather resell that empty seat, even though they already sold it to the person that booked the flight. They want the opportunity to resell it for a higher price.
Last week, a teenager traveling from Florida purchased a ticket to New York with a layover in Charlotte, where he planned to get off. American Airlines canceled his trip and banned him from flying on any of their flights for the next three years. He never even boarded his original flight. He was banned for simply planning to get off early, but before he actually did it. That's like something out of "Minority Report." They punished him before he actually broke the policy.
If you plan to try this type of discount travel, you can't check a bag, and you better hope you don't have to gate check your bag because they run out of overhead compartment space. Otherwise, your bag will end up at the final destination you booked, not the one you intended.
The travel hack is so popular there is even a website dedicated to helping you find these hidden city destinations. It's called Skiplagged.com, and airlines dislike it so much they unsuccessfully tried to have it shut down in 2014.
At the end of the day, skip-lagging is entirely legal, but it does violate airline policies. It can therefore get you banned from flying some of them. Yes, you can save money, but you must do it at your own risk.