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How to beat San Francisco airfares

February 14, 2014

We know -  flights aren’t cheap and no one likes dropping more green than he or she needs to. At FlyShortcut, that’s something we’re pretty darn passionate about.

What if we told you we could beat the lowest fares you found anywhere: Google Flights, Expedia, Travelocity, airline web sites… you name it? You’d think, “Impossible!” right?

Wrong. It’s not about searching harder, it’s about searching differently.

Hidden city ticke-what?

We focus on a technique called Hidden City Ticketing, featured in The New York Times and The Economist. The premise is simple - let’s say you want to fly to Boston. Instead of looking for flights to Boston, look for flights connecting in Boston and skip the last leg. There are important risks and limitations you should be aware of, but yes, flying further is sometimes cheaper.

Really?  Show me.

Let’s say you want to go from San Francisco to Boston on March 10th and return in a week. The lowest round-trip fare that day is $290, and in fact, they’re not even for nonstop flights.  Nevertheless, it’s pretty cheap, given the lowest fare for the next three months is $279.

Using hidden city ticketing, we can find a round-trip for as low as $259, and they’re both non-stop flights.  That’s $30 lower than any other way to fly that day, and $20 lower than any way to fly… any day.

Holy %#[email protected]!  So can I save going to X?

That’s the million dollar question… and one we want to answer.  Over the next while, we plan to analyze the hidden city ticketing opportunity for major North American cities, flying to the most popular destinations.  We call it the Hidden City Ticketing Study - and we’re kicking off today with San Francisco.

San Francisco (SFO, OAK, SJC) At-a-Glance

We analyzed the top 12 destinations from San Francisco, which together make up almost half of all flights out from SFO, OAK and SJC.  Here’s what we found:

  • There are huge opportunities flying to Atlanta and Boston
  • If you’re lucky, you can save on flights going to Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, and Washington 
  • We were hoping New York, Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego would strike gold, but unfortunately pickings for those cities are slim to none


Next up: Our study for New York.  Stay tuned!