Want Cheaper Flights? Hack Your Layovers

layovers cheaper flights

Unsplash/Briana Tozour

So maybe you’ve heard that you can find even cheaper flights by cleverly using stopover cities to reach your final destination. Maybe layovers opening up better flight options is a brand-new concept to you. But either way, if you want cheap flights, try hacking your layovers. There’s a lot to consider when using this method — it’s complex, but can really pay off. Here’s what you need to know.

You can book flights to a destination based on where the layover is.

Sometimes, it’s cheaper to fly from New York City to Washington, D.C. via Boston than to fly straight to Boston. It seems insane, but the math checks out. Less desirable flight itineraries with weird layovers that seem out of the way are often crazy cheap, meaning you can grab a ticket to D.C. but leave the airport on your layover in Boston without buying the pricey ticket straight up to Boston.

You can use a multi-city search function on many flight search engines to find tickets that go through the city you’re trying to reach. There’s even an app for this, called Skiplagged (free on Andriod and IOS devices). They gamed this layover-hopping system to the point where United Airlines sued them for being too good at hacking fares.

layovers cheaper flights


You can only skip the last leg of your flight itinerary.

However, the major caveat to this jump-out-at-whatever-airport-you-want plan is that you have to take all the flights in the order you book them. That means you can only skip the last flight in your itinerary; otherwise, the rest of your flights will be canceled.

You’re limited to a carry-on bag.

Do not — we repeat, do not — check your bags if you are skipping any leg of your flight. Your bags will be checked to your final destination, not your layover city. If you’re using this hack, you have to pack in a carry-on. And although we usually swear by gate-checking your bag, really get ready to fight for that overhead bin space in this scenario.

Heads up: You still need the same paperwork regardless of whether you take your flight all the way to your final destination or hop off-board in the middle. Visas still apply and you need all of your identification at the ready. Happy flight deal searching!


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