Six Air Travel Hacks that Aren’t Worth the Hassle

Trucos de viaje aéreo | Air Travel Hacks

You cannot blame a traveler for trying to squeeze the best deal possible for the most comfortable journey towards the most exotic location. Part of the fun of travel is planning the trip and gaming the system as much as legally possible. However, there are some very popular travel hacks out there that are more trouble than their worth.

As part of our ongoing mission to enhance your travel with great tips – from easy-to-remember same-letter lists to stress-free travel items – this time we focus on bad travel hacks related to air travel that you should avoid.

1 Skiplagging

We start this list with one of the most shared tips online, which is based on a simple premise. Generally, non-stop flights cost more than routes with one or more connections. Skiplagging, also known as hidden cities or throwaway ticketing, refers to booking a trip with a connecting flight you don’t plan to board, since the stop was your intended destination all along.

Sites that thrive on this travel hack (which we won’t promote) guarantee savings of hundreds of dollars, in some cases even more. Sounds great, what could possibly go wrong?

Why It’s a Hassle

For starters, the very nature of the skiplagging hack means you cannot check baggage since its would only be retrievable at the actual end point of your flight. Besides, you are making enemies, namely, the airlines.

Connecting flights are cheaper because they maintain shorter, less popular regional flight routes. Thus, empty airplane seats lose airlines money and threaten smaller flight markets. Not to mention the additional costs from delayed takeoffs while waiting for no-show passengers.

So even though skiplagging technically breaks no laws, it does violate airline service terms and conditions. If your behavior makes you suspect of skiplagging, you give airlines the right to deny you from boarding, confiscate your frequent flyer miles, or even ban you indefinitely.

What to Do Instead

Pick from the plethora of risk-free cheap booking options available. Google Flights alerts. Flexible travel dates. The ‘Goldilocks window’. Flight comparison sites like Expedia. You can even use your own accumulated airline miles to get great deals.

2 Traveling in Pairs Without Buying the Middle Seat

More of an uncomfortable gamble than a risky travel hack. This tip suggests couples or pairs of travelers should book the window seat and aisle seat, leaving the middle seat empty. If the airline fails to fill the seat, they get extra space on their flight. If the seat gets filled, they can just ask their new neighbor to trade seats.

Why It’s a Hassle

First and foremost, this travel hack assumes people travel more in groups than alone, rendering a single seat difficult to book. Still, just because people travel together doesn’t mean they have to sit together, especially if sitting apart can save them on airfare.

Also, airlines will do everything in their power to fill that empty seat. (Read the previous item on the cost of empty seats.) Odds are greater for a lone passenger to get upgraded to first class for free than for a middle seat to remain empty.

As for asking the person in the middle seat to switch, they may accept for politeness or convenience, sure. However, should the middle passenger decline for whatever reason, there’s nothing you can do.

Stories abound online of entitled people hoping to trades airplane seats with strangers, only to be shot down. Why risk becoming a topic on the AITA subreddit?

What to Do Instead

Use your miles to upgrade your flight to Business Class or above, if available. Also try asking your airline about buying the middle seat. Some providers like Qantas actually offer neighbor-free seating on certain routes.

3 Checking Your Carry-On

Airports can be a hassle, with all the security checkpoints and the long distances between terminals. Do you really want to spend all day dragging a small carry-on suitcase up and down the airport?

Just check your carry-on. That way you won’t worry about leaving it behind and even board your plane faster.

Why It’s a Hassle

You’re allowed to check your carry-on if you wish. Flight attendants might even offer to do it for free if your flight is at full capacity.

However, isn’t the point of carry-on luggage to have emergency clothes and toiletries in case your checked bag gets misplaced? Or even to avoid waiting for your bag at baggage claim?

What to Do Instead

Just travel with your carry-on. Get yourself a 4-wheeled model for easy travel. You can even buy a smaller sized one that easily fits under the seat in front of you.

4 Flying Same-Day Standby

You bought a plane ticket already, but planning ahead is for retirees and you live in the moment. Which means you’re more than willing to wait at the departing gate for an earlier flight or a different destination on the off chance someone cancels their trip or fails to board the plane. Their loss, your gain!

Why It’s a Hassle

Flying standby made sense back when you could actually buy your plane ticket from scratch at the airport and depart on the same day. Security concerns stemming from the 9/11 attacks ruined that for everyone.

Sure, you could get a same-day ticket at a different time, maybe even somewhere else. Of course, you have to be willing to wait a long time and accept the fact that you might fail to get the new seat.

You’re at the airport already, so waiting is a given. Why purposely add a longer or more intense wait time for the sake of an uncertain advantage?

What to Do Instead

Purchase your desired flight itinerary and stick to it.

5 Bidding on an Upgrade

Imagine you booked your flight in advance and a few days before takeoff you receive an email from the airline offering you an upgrade. You click on the auctio. link and select how much extra you’re willing to bid.

The passenger with the highest offer gets the upgrade. Which could be you!

Why It’s a Hassle

This counts as one of those airline efforts to fill every seat, even the expensive ones. What makes it a bad travel hack is the high competition plus the fact that the auction page itself has a Buy It Now option just like eBay.

What to Do Instead

If you can afford the upgrade just click on Buy It Now instead of making a bid. Better yet, call the airline’s customer service line and use your miles.

6 Not Buying Travel Insurance

Your doctor gave you a clean bill of health and you know how to take care of your belongings. What is the point of buying insurance just for a week-long vacation? That’s just throwing your money away!

Why It’s a Hassle

We agree that travel can be expensive and corners should be cut. But you don’t want to be left unprotected abroad if your luggage gets lost or you develop a health issue. Travel insurance only seems like a waste of money until you need it and don’t have it.

Also, some tour providers and even a few destinations require that you purchase travel insurance before your flight.

What to Do Instead

If you have good health coverage and are flying regionally, mind your luggage and you should be fine. When you fly internationally, bite the bullet and get the extra protection. In case you’re a frequent flyer and plan to travel more than three times, consider signing up for the annual plan to save money.

Avoid these Air Travel Hacks

Full disclosure: some of these may bad air travel hacks actually work. The problem is their risk factor and low probability of success, which cancels their usefulness in our opinion.

If you choose to try any of these, good luck. You have been warned.