I was nose deep in travel planning for a potential December trip to Europe. I found the flights I may want to fly across the Atlantic – Charlotte to Frankfurt in American Airlines Business Class – but unfortunately, I was having trouble locating any award availability for the Tampa to Charlotte portion of the award. This happens from time to time, and since the transatlantic portion of award travel to Europe is the most important, I figured I could take an easy “positioning flight” from Tampa to Charlotte to get me in position to cross the pond!
I did a quick Google Flights search and found a Tampa to Charlotte flight for $456…
$456 was way more than I was willing to pay for a 1 hour and 37 minute flight, so I began my search for other transatlantic award options.
I then found some award availability for a similar American Airlines flight, but this time departing from Philadelphia to Frankfurt. The flight from Tampa to Philadelphia would be a tad longer that the one to Charlotte, but not a big deal. Upon my Google Flight search I noticed something…
While a direct flight was priced at $184, there was a cheaper option priced at $145… with a stop in Charlotte, on the SAME EXACT flight that would cost me $456 if Charlotte was my final destination!?
Some people see this and wonder… is it possible to book the cheaper flight option of Tampa to Philadelphia (connecting in Charlotte) and just stay in Charlotte and not take that second flight from Charlotte to Philadelphia?
The answer is yes, and it is called Throwaway Ticketing!
“Throwaway ticketing” is the concept where people book flights to final destinations they have no intentions of reaching so that they can deplane in the connecting city (their desired final destination), and “throw away the final segment” to take advantage of a cheaper airfare. The throwaway ticketing method violates the airlines rules, but I can understand how travelers might have the urge to take advantage of this, as it can really save money…
There are even sites devoted to finding throwaway tickets (i.e. Skiplagged) in order to find scenarios (like the one I found above) and exploit them.
As a reiteration, the airlines do not like this practice and do not want it to continue. If the Skiplagged name mentioned above sounds familiar, you may have heard news related to the site’s founder being sued by United Airlines. The case was thrown out by a judge for lack of jurisdiction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some other type of claim is filed by the airlines in order to limit this practice…
While technically against airline rules, throwaway ticketing is a practice that has the potential to save you money. If you do decide to try this method, keep in mind the airlines DO NOT like it. They will cancel the remainder of your itinerary and potentially even suspend/cancel your frequent flyer account. I STRONGLY ADVISE those that do try throwaway ticketing: a) book multiple one-way flights to and from your destination (rather than a round-trip), b) carry-on your luggage (unless you want your bag to end up at the final destination) and c) refrain from adding your frequent flyer account information.
I haven’t yet tried throwaway ticketing, but for those who have, how has it worked out? Were you ever contacted by the airline?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments/questions!