A teenager on his first flight alone was pulled into security and had his trip home canceled after gate agents figure out he was skiplagging, or booking a flight with the layover as the actual intended destination.
Logan Parsons was heading home to Charlotte, North Carolina, from Gainesville, Florida, by way of a ticket with an end point of New York City. While NYC was his stated destination on his ticket, Parsons planned to leave the airport in Charlotte and head home. It’s a way of saving money, as direct flights are often more costly, which means airlines hate it because they’re losing money in the process. Parsons was caught by a gate agent who became suspicious when his I.D.s were all for Charlotte. From Queen City News:
The purchased flight was from Gainesville, Florida to New York City with a layover in Charlotte. The plan was for the teen to get off the plane in Charlotte where he lives. His father says he would have never put his son in this predicament if he knew this would happen.
It was the first time Logan Parsons flew by himself.
“We’ve used Skip Lagged almost exclusively for the last five to eight years,” said Hunter Parsons, Logan’s father. “Booked a flight from Gainesville regional to JFK via Charlotte.”
The Parsons weren’t aware hidden city ticketing, also known as skip lagging, was frowned upon in the airline industry. An American Airlines representative canceled the ticket and made the family purchase a new direct flight ticket.
Parsons’ parents thought the airlines overreacted, especially when the passenger in question was a minor. American Airlines counters that skiplagging, or “hidden city ticketing,” is a violation of American Airlines terms and conditions.
So why would you skiplag? Because airlines will often offer lower fares if a passenger has to make a layover. If you’re aiming for that layover anyway, you can save some cash by booking a ticket and not finishing the journey. It only really works on one way tickets, and only if you have no checked luggage, but skipping the last leg of a flight in favor of your layover destination can save you (and cost the airline) some big bucks, according to SimplyFlying:
Based on fuel and labor costs alone, a lower fare on a longer journey seems confusing. However, there are a few reasons for this price differential. Air travel is a competitive business, and specific routes will have more competition than others. If an airline knows it runs one of the few direct services to a city, it will charge as much as customers are willing to pay.
However, if an airline has to route customers via a hub stopover, it will often lower its fares to compete with other airlines running direct services. Another reason, particularly relevant to our North American example, is that an airline might have to pay more in airport fees for passengers disembarking at one destination versus another. Those fees might not apply to transit passengers.
And it’s not just fees that the airline is missing out on. An empty seat is a ticket unsold to the money minds who make air travel tick. Skiplagging isn’t illegal per se but it’s certainly frowned upon. It seems at least American Airlines has had enough.