Does hidden city ticketing actually cause airlines to lose revenue?News / DistributionBy Nick Vivion | May 4, 2015Share This article was originally published on Hidden city ticketing has reached peak awareness amongst travelers, thanks to a series of highly-publicized events surrounding the United/Orbitz lawsuit against Skiplagged and recent dismissal of the case on a technicality.Given the newfound awareness of this trick — which can save travelers money by booking cheaper multi-city itineraries and getting off in a connecting city — are travelers actually costing airlines money doing this?The data scientists at Hopper have crunched the travel data to give us a more accurate picture of the savings involved in hidden city ticketing.The data included 2 billion searches for single-carrier domestic flights on consumer airfare searches over the period of one week, looking at 4,500 domestic routes with nonstop flights. Yep, it's cheaper. By booking connecting flights with no intention of completing the journey, travelers save 21% on average (or $33). Some can even save up to $200 on a hidden city flight versus non-stop.Hidden city pricing can be found on 26% of domestic routes searched by consumers. That means there are hidden city deals on 21%, or 948 out of 4,500 routes.Hubs matter. Those airlines with large hubs are the ones that have the steepest hidden city discounts, as they require a steady flow of inbound traffic to make the hubs function. 96% of discounts were with the main hub carriers: United, American, Delta and Alaska. Here's Hopper's breakdown of savings when flying from Honolulu to three major hubs: Big three have the most hidden city discounts. Again, the hub model comes into play here, as the Big Three have the most routes with hidden city pricing: the combined American has the most, with 316, followed by Delta's 282 routes and United's 275 routes. Pricing is also a vital means of controlling capacity and airlines don't like any challenge to that status quo — especially after working diligently to increase profitability through the hub-and-spoke model that makes it cheaper to fly connections than non-stop. But beware: United has said in statements related to the Skiplagged sage that flyers are putting their own loyalty accounts in jeopardy, saying: We remain troubled that Mr. Zaman continues to openly encourage customers to violate our contract of carriage by purchasing hidden-city tickets, putting the validity of their ticket and MileagePlus status at risk.Share this quote Most airline contracts of carriage have prohibitions on hidden city pricing, such as United's, which specifically prohibits hidden city ticketing, saying that "fares apply for travel only between the points for which they are published."For those willing to take that risk — or those who don't care about loyalty points — here's how the data shakes out.As their own lawsuits raise the profile of hidden city pricing, airlines will be using their own systems to crack down on hidden city pricing. It's very obvious when a traveler has a repeated pattern of not showing up for connecting flights, as all of this data is tracked via scanned barcodes on boarding. The risk is real, but so are the savings!NB: American dollar coin courtesy Shutterstock.NB2: Disclosure: Hopper CEO Fred Lalonde is also chairman of Tnooz.