Skiplagged has been under a lot of heat this month when United and Orbitz both decided to move on in and sue the start-up for “exposing” ways to get cheaper flights, simply by finding routes that include your final destination city as a layover, allowing you to “skip” taking the last leg.
With all of the media attention, the site has gone pretty mainstream and many unseasoned travelers are discovering this cool new “hack” that could potentially save them thousands on their next trip.
An interesting scenario was brought to my attention from a friend earlier this week. She is planning a trip to Munich and decided to see how much Skiplagged could “save her”.
She typed in her dates and was very tempted by this result:
In theory, she would fly Newark to Moscow with a layover in Munich; however, she planned on getting off in Munich and never board the flight to Moscow. For $349, I could see the appeal, considering that United was charging over 6 times that amount for a B fare on the same exact Munich flight she was considering:
She messaged me saying that she was thrilled to be getting to Munich for $350! However, there’s one small problem: a US citizen cannot go to Russia without a pricey Visa, and from what I hear it’s a PITA to get.
I know several airlines will refuse boarding (or even print a boarding pass) at the start of the itinerary if the traveler fails to have their required visa verified. I’ve seen this happen first-hand, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel good to get left behind because you didn’t do your homework.
When I told her this info, she said, “wait, so Skiplagged will spit out options that come with a surprise?” In Skiplagged’s defense, I told her that it’s really the responsibility of the traveler to check to see if a country has a visa requirement in place for US citizens before booking the ticket.
Fortunately for my friend, she now has plenty of notice to figure out what to do from here, but I’d bet my bottom dollar that there are tons of people who don’t know the risks associated with hidden city ticketing.
I personally have not encountered a visa “surprise”-dilemma myself, but I did almost have a situation where I couldn’t leave Newark to head to Manila without proof of a return ticket. Luckily I had some family-friends in Manila that were able to go pick up my physical return ticket at the Manila American Airlines location before I was SOL.
Care to share any similar stories or comments?