Save on Airfare with the Southwest Hidden City Trick

The hidden city trick to save on airfare has been around a long time and it works especially well on Southwest Airlines.  The idea behind the hidden city trick is that sometimes it is cheaper to book a flight from City A to City C with a stopover in City B then it is to book a direct flight from City A to City B. For example, in June I traveled from Kansas City to Las Vegas.  It was cheaper for me to book a flight from Kansas City to Salt Lake City that changed planes in Las Vegas and just stay in Las Vegas then it was to book a flight (including the same flight that went on to SLC) direct from Kansas City to Las Vegas.  I saved a couple thousand points by booking the flight this way.  When the flight landed in Vegas I just told the gate agent at the new gate that I wasn’t going to get on the flight.  The agent was fine with that, the airline employees do like to know when you are not going to get on a flight since they have to do a passenger count.   Some airlines don’t like hidden city ticketing and have rules against it.  If you violate their rules there is a chance they could suspend your frequent flyer account or impose other penalties. Southwest used to explicitly allow hidden city ticketing.  Although they no longer explicitly allow hidden city ticketing they don’t have a rule against it and don’t seem to mind it being used.

If you do use the hidden city trick you need to make sure you carry on your luggage since otherwise your luggage will end up in City C while you are in City B.  Also, it is best to book two one-way fares rather than a round-trip when using the hidden city trick since some airlines will cancel your return flight if you don’t complete the outgoing flight.  You should always book one-way flights on Southwest anyway since their round-trip fares are just a combination of two one-way fares. By booking two one-way flights you have more flexibility if you need to rebook your flight.  For example, if you see that the return fare has gone down you could cancel and rebook just the return fare to save money. If you had a round-trip fare you would have to cancel and rebook both the outgoing and return fare which doesn’t always work since the outgoing fare may have gone up in price.  By booking two one-ways if either of the legs of the trip go down in price you can save money by canceling and rebooking.  This doesn’t work on most airlines, but it does on Southwest which is why the hidden city trick works especially well on Southwest.  There are lots of other tricks to saving money on airfare.  What are some of your tips and tricks for saving on airfare?

4 thoughts on “Save on Airfare with the Southwest Hidden City Trick”

  1. Did you have any trouble on your return flight? I has a similar situation for a flight and the airline wouldn’t let me on it in the middle. They said I had to fly it the way it was booked. I had to fly 2,000 miles home, stay overnight and then fly back the next day to the same city so I could make it to my destination.

    • My flights were booked as two separate one-way flights. Not finishing the first flight had no effect on the second flight.

  2. Is there a way of knowing when a flight that continues on to the next city might be a cheaper ticket?

    Also, is there any advantage to booking a round trip flight on Southwest? It looks to me like they price all flights as one way, which is good because you know your return flight wont get cancelled.

    • There is probably a better way, but I just guess at some cities that might be served by continuing flights then check the price on the SW website.
      There isn’t an advantage to booking a round trip on SW that I know of since they are priced as two one ways. It is better to book as two one ways since it makes it easier to change one leg of the trip and as you stated you don’t have to worry about the return being canceled.


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