Can I get a cheap flight by purchasing a ticket connecting in my actual destination?
February 20, 2008 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Flying from Edmonton to Toronto: $285 on flight AC172. Flying Edmonton to Newark via Toronto(AC172): $258. I only have carry-on luggage. Is there any reason why I can't buy the ticket to Newark and just get off in Toronto?

In addition, the flight from Edmonton->Toronto->Newark is a Tango Plus flight, which is a class ABOVE the $258 Edmonton->Toronto flight. If I wanted to fly Tango Plus from Edmonton->Toronto, it would cost me $332.
posted by newatom to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have heard tales of people who tried this trick, as well as the related trick of buying a round-trip ticket when a one-way is more expensive (and the purchaser only intends to use the one-way). Airlines are aware of both tricks. If you are caught -- i.e., the airline notices that you didn't fly the Toronto-Newark segment -- the airline may threaten to cancel your return ticket subject to your paying the $27 difference (or they could just cancel it entirely, although I have never heard of that happening). The terms and conditions printed on the ticket (or incorporated by reference in the ticket language) sometimes give the airline an express right to do this. But the airline only has leverage if you have a return flight or you are a repeat traveler, so if this is a one-shot, one-way deal, you could get away with it.
posted by brain_drain at 3:41 PM on February 20, 2008

Best answer: This practice is known as "hidden city ticketing." It is probably a violation of Air Canada's rules. If you do it, they will probably cancel the rest of your itinerary, so don't do it if you have a round-trip ticket. Obviously, you can't check bags if you are doing this.

Some airlines have been known to invoice consumers for the fare difference or erase their frequent flier miles for doing this (try Googling delta "revenue protection unit" for examples). Others will penalize travel agents, but most probably won't bother you beyond canceling that itinerary.
posted by grouse at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2008

Ah, in the glory days of travel you could do this. Now it'll be a canceled itinerary for you homeward leg.

You can try calling the airline and asking for a fare adjustment to the lower fare. It really depends on the airline. I've done this with American and Continental. United has told me no, but they are super cheap with this type of stuff.
posted by 26.2 at 3:55 PM on February 20, 2008

If you're planning on flying back, absolutely do not do this. If you miss a connection your return ticket will be cancelled.

This is bitter experience speaking.
posted by Kappi at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2008

If you're just going one way and have carry on luggage, you'll be fine. People miss flights/connections all the time, and that's what will happen to you. :)

If it's round trip, as the others said, I believe the rest of your itinerary may be canceled. Not worth risking it.
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:57 PM on February 20, 2008

IANA Border Control Agent, but I would think that if there's a manifest with your name on it for a flight into the US, but you don't get off that plane in the US, you might have some questions to answer at some point.
posted by pupdog at 5:25 PM on February 20, 2008

I say do it. Don't do it with a round-trip ticket, though. If they give you grief, make up a good excuse for getting off at Toronto (there are millions of them). I'm presuming, of course, that no legal recourse can be had by the airline, such that your savings would be offset.

As regards the manifest point, they will know whether you re-board at Toronto, and so they won't be expecting you to deboard at Newark if you didn't actually board the plane to Newark. I'm presuming, of course, that they are neither idiots nor will think this to be any cause for a security concern.
posted by astrochimp at 8:34 PM on February 20, 2008

You'll get away with what you are planning on a one-way trip with no consequences at least once. And there's clearly some point where you won't get away with it. How important is it to you to be able to fly Air Canada in the future?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 10:06 PM on February 20, 2008

Individual people within the company can also just be nice to you about this sort of thing. I had a similar situation going Montreal - Nice via Paris. Round trip flight and I didn't want to use the Nice-Paris leg of my return. I called Air Canada and found someone sympathetic enough to cancel that leg at no charge. I've done the same starting in Vancouver instead of Victoria, B.C..

As it looks like you've already noticed, since Air Canada round trip prices are just the sums of the one-way prices, even if you're flying back you may as well purchase the return portion separately so that skipping that leg doesn't impact your return itinerary. If you do this then skipping the Toronto-Newark leg shouldn't be any problem whatsoever.

How did you notice that it was cheaper to fly to Newark (!)?
posted by louigi at 11:40 PM on February 20, 2008

Get off the flight and then find the Air Canada (or Tango Plus?) agent and tell them that you are feeling very sick and can't continue the journey to Newark. That way they will know you are not on the second leg and any complications with manifests etc. can be avoided.

Of course only do this if you don't think lying to airlines is a mortal sin.
posted by worker_bee at 6:06 AM on February 21, 2008

"Of course only do this if you don't think lying to airlines is a mortal sin."

Or if you don't think giving the airline an opportunity to make a huge profit by reselling your already-paid-for-seat is a mortal sin.
posted by astrochimp at 9:18 AM on February 21, 2008

Sure, astrochimp, but there are ways to do this that involve lying and those that don't.
posted by grouse at 10:41 AM on February 21, 2008

"make a huge profit by reselling your already-paid-for-seat"
I don't think a one-way seat from Toronto to Newark would constitute a huge profit for anybody. Anyway airlines have lied to me often enough, thank you.
posted by worker_bee at 12:31 PM on February 21, 2008

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