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'Hidden city' trick saves travelers hundreds on flights

Tuesday - 5/10/2011, 9:01am  ET

WASHINGTON -- A little known, but profitable practice could save summer flyers a chunk of change this holiday travel season.

Call "hidden city ticketing," this strategy takes advantage of some cites, like Dallas, that cost more to fly to because they are only served by a single airline, according to a New York Times blog.

For example, a flight from Des Moines to Dallas could cost close to $400. This is almost twice as much as a flight to a city like Los Angeles, which is served by multiple carriers and therefore has more competitive prices.

The Times' trick for traveling to Dallas, in this scenario, is to book that as a leg on a trip to LAX. Instead of going the entire distance, travelers could simply pick up their bags at the Texas layover and stay there, having paid a fraction of the price and taking only half the trip.

The tactic, while legal, may go against airlines' ticketing restrictions and could result in mild penalties from them. If questioned, the Times recommends being completely honest, and pointing to airlines' unjust pricing practices.

As the experts say, all is "fare" in love, war, and airlines.

WTOP's Del Walters contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)