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"Throwaway tickets" are a way of getting cheap flights - here's how they work

Just don’t check in a bag.

SCOTT KEYES IS an expert when it comes to getting the best possible price for airline tickets — and with holiday flights in high demand, his advice is at a premium.

The reporter for Think Progress and author of the e-books How To Fly For Free and How To Find Cheap Flights is so good that he previously planned an entire world trip that was over 20,000 miles and took him to 13 countries, all for free.

When I spoke with Keyes back in April, he said one of his favorite hacks for getting cheap flights was taking advantage of “throwaway tickets,” something that many fliers have never even heard of before, but could save you a lot of money if you’re flying home for the holidays.

“This one can be a huge money saver,” Keyes told us about his favorite throwaway ticket website Skiplagged. “You just have to know how to use it.”

For those who don’t know, throwaway tickets — also known as “hidden city” or “point beyond” tickets — are flights you purchase to an unpopular destination.

Say you were trying to buy a ticket from New York to Chicago. Because of demand, these tickets will be much more expensive than flying from New York to Milwaukee, for instance.

Earns American Airlines Source: AP/Press Association Images

A throwaway ticket would be if you found a flight to Milwaukee with a layover in Chicago. Then instead of getting on the plane to go to Milwaukee, you would throw away that leg of the ticket and exit the Chicago airport.

“The only thing that people need to know about Skiplagged is just making sure they understand how to approach it,” Keyes said. “Never buy a round-trip, because once you skip a leg of your trip the rest of your itinerary cancels. You also can’t check any bags since they’ll arrive at the throwaway city and not your actual destination.”

With that in mind, Skiplagged can find you some much cheaper airfare, especially if the city you’re visiting is a major thoroughfare such as New York, Chicago, or London.

This hack can save people hundreds of dollars, but is highly frowned upon by the airline industry. The website was sued by both United and Orbitz last year. Though Orbitz dropped out of the lawsuit and United’s case was thrown out by a judge, Skiplagged still links out to third-party websites where you can purchase the airfare.

“Skiplagged’s sole purpose has always been to help you become savvy travelers,” Skiplagged founder and computer whiz Aktarer Zaman explained on the GoFundMe website he originally created to raise money to battle the lawsuit. “Everything Skiplagged has done and continues to do is legal.”

Airlines, for their part, compare the practice to switching prices on goods sold in a store.

Read: The ten cushiest first-class airplane cabins in the world

Read: Here’s how to fly like a pro

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