Getting Off A Flight Mid-Connection

Last modified on September 13th, 2010

I spent a few minutes checking out flight options this morning, and came up with a bit of an idea. Here’s part of the problem.

Option 1: Book Second Leg Later

Get a return ticket from Vancouver to Buenos Aires, possibly throwing the return ticket away in Buenos Aries and going somewhere else. The cost of that is about $1,500 right now, and then I still have to buy an expensive ticket to somewhere else when the time comes, which will probably be another $1,500. But at least I have a Vancouver ticket already booked in the event I want to come back.

Option 2: Use Houston as a Hub

Continental flies to South America, and Houston is their hub. I can catch a cheap ($150) one-way ticket from Vancouver of Seattle to Houston, and then book a round trip ticket from Houston to Buenos Aires. The total cost of this is around $1,300 (so cheaper than option one), and it gets me back in North America, where it’ll likely be a lot cheaper to fly somewhere else, i.e. New York or Paris.

Option 3: Screw The System

I found a really cheap return flight from Vancouver to Buenos Aires via Montreal and Washington DC. The total cost of this flight is around $1,200. So, as a way to get back to Vancouver, it’s $300 cheaper than Option 1.

I’m also thinking I could simply walk off the plane in Washington DC on the return leg, and forfeit the Montreal and Vancouver legs. Airlines don’t really like this practice (they call it Hidden City Ticketing), but it’s not illegal, and I can’t really see anyone getting too worked up. I mean, if it cost more to change my flight than it did to buy a new ticket, the logical course would be to simply toss that ticket away, right?

So with this option I save a pile of money, have a guaranteed flight back to Vancouver, and also can get off in Washington or Montreal on the way home and possibly fly somewhere else. I’m having a hard time seeing the downside to it at this point.


7 responses to “Getting Off A Flight Mid-Connection”

  1. Richard says:

    I have found the ‘advanced’ or ‘multi-destination’ features on Expedia, etc, to be invaluable in planning weird trips that come up much cheaper than individual one-way tickets. My latest plan involves flying to London, and returning from Paris. Actually came out cheaper after the cost of the one-way Eurostar ticket than a return ticket in and out of London. Very weird, but worked out in my favour; seeing Paris an unexpected bonus at the end of my London trip.

  2. Alex Curylo says:

    $1500 seems rather high. Are you using Just throwing in a Jan 5-Jun 5 YVR->EXE ticket I get a $1040 round trip with Continental.

    As for walking off, just make sure that you don’t check any luggage. If you’re not on the plane and luggage you checked is, the plane will be grounded until it’s removed and Homeland Security will be very upset with you. *Very* very upset.

    A good place to do more research would be the national airlines, seems the flagship is

    and see if they have any super deals from airports you can get cheaply to. I also note on the front page they have an internal Argentine airpass you might want to look into.

  3. Duane Storey says:

    Hmm, I’ll check TD travel rewards as well. I was looking Jan 4 – Mar 30.

  4. Duane Storey says:

    I just tried TD Travel Rewards – it’s $1,098 before taxes, and almost $1,360 with taxes, so it’s close.

  5. GusF says:

    Ahhh Buenos Aires, my birthplace, you’ll have an awesome time there.

    As for pricing, WOW, you find great deals Dwayne. I usually find it costs about $1600 to fly from Vancouver to Buenos Aires and that is usually going through the US, which isn’t always a fun option.

    Don’t airlines offer “open” tickets anymore? Or can’t you just have your return trip from Montreal to Vancouver changed to a different date, if you choose to fly to Europe from Montreal?

    At any rate, sounds like you have a great adventure ahead of you.

  6. Duane Storey says:

    And open jaw ticket is as close to a truly open ticket as you can get without breaking the bank. Basically it’s a series of one way tickets that are priced like a round trip.

    Usually if you have a series of connected flights, you have to take them all at once. Airlines charge more for any stopover.

  7. Robyn says:

    I’ve heard some things about it being illegal to leave your flight during the connection… I’m not sure why (maybe security reasons), but you might want to look into it before your attempt.

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