United Airlines wants its airport agents to be more vigilant and help monitor hidden-city ticketing. These are passengers who book cheap fares to cities they do not intend to visit to save money. The trick has become more main stream lately. A new internal memo is asking agents to report possible cases to its corporate security department.
Earlier this year we saw Lufthansa sue a passenger over this practice.
Hidden-city ticketing is something that advanced frequent travelers have been using for a long time. It works like this. You book a ticket from A to B with a stop in C. You then get off at C, and skip the last leg of the trip from C to B. The reason for this is that sometimes a ticket from Ato B through C, is cheaper than just a direct flight from A to C.
Using the hidden city tactic is usually practical only for one-way trips. Airlines will usually cancel the rest of the trip once a traveler doesn’t show up for a segment. It also requires that the traveler have carry-on luggage only, because any checked baggage will end up at the flight’s final destination.
United Airlines Memo
The internal memo wants agents to be on the lookout for cases of hidden-city ticketing. Airlines say the practice it violates their contract of carriage. If a customer buys a ticket to Newark for example, they say, the customer must fly there.
“This practice can potentially offer discounts on airfare and [is] not aligned with United’s contract of carriage,” the airline told airport customer service workers, as per Yahoo. “As the practice grows, we need to ensure that we’re both supporting our customers and properly enforcing the contract of carriage rules and United policies.”
In an email, United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said hidden-city ticketing violates United’s rules. “It is against our ticketing policies to purchase an additional segment with no intention to fly,” he said.
He added United sent the memo, “to provide a reminder to our employees about how to address issues that arise when customers purchase hidden-city tickets and travel with checked baggage.”