CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s a very controversial topic, and airlines including United Airlines and American Airlines strictly prohibit it– but still, some travelers are finding out ways to save money.
Some frequent travelers book “hidden city” fares, and that’s where you book a destination that you have no intention of ever flying to.
Here is an example: NBC Charlotte selected a random weekend to check prices.
If you choose to fly from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to Houston George Bush Intercontinental leaving Friday, December 9, United offers a nonstop one-way ticket for $167.
But on Skiplagged.com, we found a fare of $124 to Dallas-Fort Worth on United, with a stop in Houston. The total savings on the outbound is $43.00.
Aktarer Zaman is the brains behind Skiplagged.com, a website that claims it can steer you to very affordable fares.
“One of the things that Skiplagged will expose to you is something known as hidden city flights. It’s where you book beyond Charlotte to actually save money on airfare,” explained Zaman.
“There is no law saying that you have to get on every flight that you buy,” said Zaman.
According to skiplagged.com, since Charlotte is a hub city for American Airlines, American would be your best bet to get a good deal for those ‘hidden cities’ where the airline is competing for your business.
But you should know that the airlines oppose these hidden city tactics.
United Airlines says it prohibits this practices and it can penalize passengers who book tickets without intending to travel to the final destination.
United says they may cancel remaining tickets, delete miles from a frequent flyer account– and even take legal action.
In fact, a few years ago, United Airlines sued skiplagged.com– but the lawsuit was dismissed.
Skiplagged.com says as many as a million people a month use the website.
Some passengers NBC Charlotte spoke with say they’ve never heard of Skiplagged, and most of those flying the skies use sites like Orbitz or they book whatever flight the airline offers at the best rate.
“I just checked all the various travel sites, it’s Expedia or Orbits, there’s a lot of different sites that I check, but a lot of times you’re getting the same deals if you go right onto American Airlines, too,” said one frequent traveler.
But the director of Skiplagged.com says do some research, spend 10 minutes or so and you can save quite a bit of cash.
“You’re buying the service of the option to get on the plane, you can just get on and just not go on the rest,” Zaman told NBC Charlotte.
Again, this practice is strictly prohibited and there are risks. However, at last check, about a million visitors were using skiplagged.com every month.