For those of you that have been trying to book AA saver awards from smaller markets or saw Gary’s post on the topic, you are aware that AA seems to be blocking out almost all saver space for smaller cities.
For example, a one way economy ticket from St. Louis to Chicago is now 30,000 AA miles and it is priced like this until at least February 2016.
My parents just moved to St. Louis and I’ve been flying down there every couple of weekends from Chicago. Although it is only a 45 minute flight, a normal fare costs around $450 roundtrip!
Thankfully, I’ve been using Avios to book AA awards and because the distance is less than 750 miles, it has only been costing me 4,500 Avios each way…
Since AA is now blocking Saver space, I haven’t been able to use Avios this past week and had to look into purchasing a revenue ticket.
Thankfully I had some AMEX Platinum and PRG AA reimbursements (aka giftcards) that I used to offset the cost!
As I looked to book a flight home from St. Louis, I fired up Kayak.com to check the prices and it was coming out to $221 oneway.
I didn’t think that was a particularly good price since I could have also just taken Amtrak or MegaBus from St. Louis and it would cost only $27 and taken the same amount of time door to door.
Since Chicago is a hub for United, AA, and Southwest, I knew hidden city ticketing was possible.
So for example, St. Louis – Chicago – Columbus, OH might be cheaper than flying St. Louis – Chicago direct…
While I used to manually use ITA Matrix to do these kind of hidden city ticketing searches, SkipLagged.com now does it automatically for you.
If you aren’t familiar with the site, SkipLagged is of course being sued by United Airlines for providing this free service to customers and ironically the lawsuit only ended up drawing more free publicity to SkipLagged…
To use SkipLagged.com, I simply entered my airports and dates and it spit out what was the cheapest flights from STL-ORD.
As you can see the 5.03am United flight and the 6.35am AA flight to Milwaukee via ORD were both $147, while on Kayak the direct STL-ORD with the SAME EXACT SEAT ON THE SAME EXACT FLIGHT was $221!
Thanks to SkipLagged, I was able to save $74 (33%) off of my original ticket.
I went ahead and booked a St. Louis to Milwaukee via Chicago ticket and I simply hopped off in Chicago this morning instead of continuing onwards to Milwaukee.
Word of caution though, if you plan to use SkipLagged, many airlines are not fond of hidden city ticketing so make sure you don’t include your frequent flyer number.
In the end,when booking airline tickets, it really pays to take a few extra minutes and check some other sites.
By using SkipLagged, I was able to easily save 33% off the cost of my original ticket.
While it doesn’t always find you the cheapest fare for every search, it is a good tool to have in your backpocket.