Skiplagging: Why You Shouldn’t Use This Travel Hack

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Jessica is a respected contributor to the Sampling America writing team, eloquently sharing tales of adventures across the country and beyond.

Recently, a new travel hack has been making the rounds on social media. Known as “skiplagging,” it is basically paying for a flight with one or more connections, but getting off during a layover and never going to the final destination on the ticket. 

Here’s a look at why some people would want to try this… and why you shouldn’t.

The Benefits of Skiplagging

Watching plane fly away
Image Credit: Canva.

Skiplagging, or finishing your trip between connecting flights instead of going to the destination on your ticket, sounds like a silly thing to do. Why would you pay for a long trip, only to cut it short?

Well, the reason is simple: money. Sometimes, it is actually cheaper to buy a longer flight that goes past your intended destination and on to another one than it is to buy a direct flight.

In one instance, a traveler wanted to go to Lisbon from San Francisco, for which the flight would have cost almost $400. But, the traveler found that if they booked a flight from San Francisco to London with a stop in Lisbon in the middle, the fare was only $265.

The reason behind this is that the price of a flight is usually based, not on the length of the trip or the length of the flight, but on the popularity of the destination. Taking a flight to Chicago, for instance, is more expensive than taking one to Utah because Chicago is an international travel hub. If the final destination is less popular than the layover city, this usually results in a cheaper flight, even if it has more stops.

Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s delve deeper.

The Risks of Skiplagging

Boarding pass
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Sure, skiplagging may save the customer some cash, and that’s great. But what about the airline? Recently reports have revealed that airlines have lost tens of thousands of dollars because of this trend, and they are not happy about it.

If you book a seat on a plane, that is a seat that someone else can’t use and that the airline can’t sell. This has led to some airlines trying to sue customers for skipping out on the last leg of their journey or charging them fees for not taking the plane to the destination on their ticket.

Other consequences include being booted out of the airline’s awards program and losing your miles because you are seen as an unreliable member and may have been cheating to earn those miles.

Plus, on a smaller scale, there’s the issue of the luggage: in most cases, even if you yourself are not physically obligated to get on the next flight on your ticket, your checked baggage is. If you check a bag, it will most likely go on to your final destination without you, leaving you without your clothes or other personal items.

There is also the risk that skiplagging more than once can lead to an airline “blackballing” you and canceling your future tickets so they don’t run the risk of you leaving in the middle again.

Moral Implications

Empty plane seat
Image Credit: Canva.

Okay, so maybe you don’t care about the airline losing money because they’re all presumably faceless, greedy corporations trying to squash the “little guy” anyway. And maybe you’re not worried about the financial risks, because you’re lucky and are betting you won’t get caught. And maybe you didn’t like being in the airline’s rewards program anyway, so who cares about that? Plus, skiplagging isn’t actually illegal.

But what about your fellow passengers?

What about the people who need to book a flight to your ticket’s final destination, but it’s full? What if someone was trying to get back home for a funeral, for instance, and they couldn’t take that flight because your seat is sitting there empty while you’re off living your best life in your layover city?

Airlines also warn that the flight crew’s waiting for passengers who never show up can also lead to flight delays, which isn’t fair to the people who are actually on the flight and ready to go.

While it may sound like a cool way to save money, it could actually hurt, not just the airline, but people like you, who also just want to get where they are going without undue hassle.


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