WATCH: An Airfare Money-Saving Trick is Under Threat

·Editor-in-Chief

It’s a classic David and Goliath scenario: the little guy (tiny website Skiplagged.com) versus the big guys (United and Orbitz).

Skiplagged was launched to help travelers navigate one of the airline’s dirty secrets: hidden-city ticketing.

Here’s how it works: say you want to go from Milwaukee to Detroit, but the direct flight costs $407. However, a flight from Milwaukee to St. Louis, with a stop in Detroit, is just $104. So in order to save $303, you disembark when the plane lands in Detroit and don’t take the next leg of the trip.

For years, it was a trick that was quietly used by frequent travelers and brave travel agents. But 22-year-old tech-guru Aktarer Zaman decided to open it up to everyone by creating a grass-roots site, Skiplagged, which he operates out of his bare-bones apartment in New York.

Related: No More Flying and Dashing? Airlines Sue Over Hidden City Ticketing

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The website Skiplagged is under threat (Photo: Thinkstock)

While Skiplagged says you can save up to 65 percent on flights, the airlines don’t like the site or hidden-city ticketing. “Purchasing a ticket to a point beyond the actual destination and getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical,” American Airlines writes on its website. “It is tantamount to switching price tags to obtain a lower price on goods sold at department stores.”

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Hidden-city ticketing can save you money on air travel — but the airlines don’t like it (Photo: Thinkstock)

There are risks and hassles for travelers who use this trick:

  • You can’t check baggage because it will end up on the ticketed final destination city.

  • You can only do it with a one-way ticket. Most airlines will cancel the rest of the routing if you don’t board the plane for the next leg.

  • Weather or mechanical delays can potentially disrupt your travel plans if you’re routed to another city or airport.

  • You can get in trouble with the airlines if they catch you. Airlines monitor ticketing and may deny boarding, confiscate the remainder of your ticket, or assess you the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.

  • You can losing your frequent flier status and your miles.

As the battle heats up between Skiplagged and the air industry, Yahoo Travel’s executive editor Laura Begley Bloom appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss what this means for travelers — and for the future of the site itself.

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