Skiplagged.com has been in the news a lot lately for helping travelers save money on a plane ticket in ways the airlines don’t think is fair? How does the trick work, and more importantly, will it save you money? In this review I compare Skiplagged.com’s prices to other plane ticket search engines to see if it saves you as much money as the airlines worry it will.
What is Skiplagged.com
The main character in this little story is a little known trick for saving money on your plane ticket called “the hidden city trick”. The hidden city trick is an oddity created by the engine that airlines use to set prices for plane tickets. Airlines set ticket prices based on what they think people will pay for them, not based on how much it costs to fly the plane.
For example, a ticket from Chicago to Miami might cost more than a ticket from Chicago to Atlanta because the airlines think there is higher demand to go to Atlanta from Chicago than there is to go to Miami, even though flying to Miami is more miles and therefore, more expensive. That remains true even if you actually stop in Atlanta on your way to Miami before catching a different plane for the final leg of your journey.
So is it fair that people who’s final journey is Atlanta pay more than people who take the extra flight to Miami? Fans of the hidden city trick don’t think so. If you performed the hidden city trick you would buy the ticket to Miami to save money, but then just get off the plane in Atlanta and leave the airport instead of actually going to Miami.
But how are you going to find these hidden cities, it takes too much time to search every combination of flights to find the cheapest possible ticket. That is where skiplagged.com comes in. Skiplagged.com is simply a search engine that finds the best price for you including flights that may or may not utilize the hidden city trick.
There are at least two problems with the hidden city trick. The first problem is you can’t check your bag, or else it will keep going to where the airline believes your final destination is. You have to carry on all your luggage so that when you arrive at your real final destination you can walk off the plane and never have to worry about the airline again. This isn’t really a problem because as I wrote about on clarkhoward.com, carrying on luggage is the best way to fly.
Is this legal?
The second problem with the hidden city trick is airlines hate it. It violate their terms and conditions. Is it worth it to you to violate their terms and conditions to save a little money? Yeah, me too. The one thing that the airline can do to get back at you is cancel your return flight. That is why when using the hidden city trick you must always buy one way tickets instead of round trip.
Violating the terms and conditions of your ticket is one thing, but is this actually legal? As of now, yes. Skiplagged.com has been sued by both Orbitz and United Airlines, but the latest court ruling has dismissed United’s lawsuit. So I won’t be thrown in jail for doing this? That is good enough for me.
Enough legal nonsense, how much dough will I save?
I put a little test together to see how much money you can save using skiplagged.com. For this test, I randomly selected cities and saw how much plane tickets cost between those cities leaving on July 1, 2015 and returning July 10, 2015. I selected 10 domestic routes, and 5 international routes.
I checked prices on these 15 routes on skiplagged.com along with 2 more mainstream booking engines, Orbitz and Kayak. Here are the results:
|San Jose||New Dehli||1434||1301||1254||0||0%|
This sample size is not large enough to be considered scientific, especially since I only used 1 date. It is not fair to draw conclusions about how much you can save from my little study.
The conclusion I think is fair to draw from my study is whether or not skiplagged.com is worth your time to check out next time you are looking to buy plane tickets. Given that skiplagged.com saved money on 9 out of the 15 flights I checked, I think it is worth your time. Skiplagged.com shouldn’t be the only place you look for plane tickets, but it should be on your list.
A year after this article was published it is still one of the most articles on the ABC. So I decided to run another test to see if skiplagged.com is still saving money. For this test, let’s imagine you live in Minneapolis and want to go see all the Vikings away games in 2016. On May 30, 2016 I looked up all those prices on both skiplagged and Orbitz and found the following:
|Destination||Depart||Return||Skiplagged Price||Orbitz Price||saved||% savings|
These results are even more dramatic than the first test I ran. For these 10 flights a total of $288 was saved which was 12% of the total Orbitz bill. That is an average savings of almost $29 per flight so I am more convinced than ever that if you are searching for flights, it would be a mistake to not include skiplagged in your search.
Disclosure: I received no compensation from Skiplagged, Orbitz, Kayak or any other company for this review.
Photo by Steven Conry