For a great example of Splitportting, I will use Myrtle Beach – but it can work with any smaller gateway.
Myrtle Beach has a great airport…but you are penalized when booking international tickets if you are flying from any small gateway. With flexibility, and if you are headed to Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond, you can save quite a bit of money.
Splitporting is not against the rules and is the opposite of skiplagging. Skiplagging aka “hidden city” booking, is the process of buying a ticket to a destination you are not actually going to…you really want to go the city that the flight is connecting through. It can be a money saver but I don’t recommend it as you can get banned from the airline if they find out. Splitporting, on the other hand, is buying your ticket from a major gateway that you will get to from another airport on a separate ticket.
Let’s say you are going to Oslo, Norway, as I am today. If you put in your favorite search engine that you are flying from MYR to OSL, and you want business class, you can expect to pay more than $5000 per person.
You may notice that I am searching for flights to be taken at a later date. You can expect to save more by booking flights several months (or longer) in advance. The following screenshots are from Google Flights, which is a great way to book your flights. At the end of the process, make sure to use the link to the airline website to book the flights. Do not use an OTA (online travel agency) such as Cheap-O flights, Expedia, Orbitz, etc. In fact, I do not recommend them for booking anything. Either book directly on the airport or hotel website or work with a local travel agent.
So business class from Myrtle Beach to Oslo on these random and close-in dates:
Google says the best flights are going to be about $5300 round trip, per person, with 2 stops. But look at what happens if we break this into two separate transactions:
Google is advising that prices are currently high. Even though the date for travel is in the future, it is still relatively close to departure. To save even more money, we should have been doing this months ago, but here we are. Flights from Kennedy Airport in New York (JFK) are showing about $3300 per person in business class.
However, we don’t live in New York. So, we need to book a flight from Myrtle Beach to New York, and we want first class. However, there are currently no nonstop direct flights from Myrtle Beach to JFK. (There are if you don’t mind flying from Charleston).
But, there are nonstop direct flights on Delta from Myrtle Beach to La Guardia Airport in New York (LGA). And they are competing against some budget airlines such as Spirit. (I don’t recommend using this budget airline.) So their prices are pretty reasonable at $620 round trip – and remember, this is first class!
I got both of these tickets for considerably less, because I booked further out. But let’s do the math with these randomly selected flights:
My spouse and I are going to Europe, so let’s book the 1:16 pm flight to LGA from MYR, non stop for $618 (which includes all taxes and fees). Because we are flying first / business on this route, bags and seat selection will be included as well.
We need an Uber ($60), taxi, or shuttle ($25 per person) to get from LGA to JFK. This typically takes about 30-40 minutes in traffic. No worries, we have over 5 hours to make our flight! If you need some lunch, order the Uber with a stop along the way. We are going to Mama Luisa’s in Brooklyn today for THE Sandwich (an artichoke parm)…but you stop where you want!
Now, we’ve also booked the IcelandAir flight to Oslo, in SAGA class, a decent business class, which does stop in Reykjavik. In fact, IcelandAir will let you have a free stopover and spend a few days exploring Iceland. That flight is $3300 per person.
(Full disclosure, we are taking a non-stop flight from JFK to Stockholm on Delta, which saved even more, and I got some perks as a Delta Diamond and Million Miler.)
In case you haven’t already, let’s do the math: The flights from Myrtle Beach to LGA were $618, and $3311 for the JFK to Oslo flights. The Uber is $60 and we get $40 worth of sandwiches in Brooklyn, making that $50 per person for 2 of us. That makes $3979 per person. If we only booked the flights from Myrtle Beach to Oslo, it would have been $5370 per person. That is a savings of $1391 per person, $2782 total!!
You can save even more by going to Africa, Australia, and beyond! Of course, you can do this from other smaller cities and fly to other large airports to realize these savings. And you can save money in economy class as well, I guess. In fact, if you don’t need business class for the longhaul, you can take the new Norse Airlines nonstop from JFK to Oslo, and they have what appears to be an inexpensive premium economy section.
If your flights don’t line up timewise in either direction, you can always spend the night at the fabulous retro TWA Hotel, which is in Terminal 5 of JFK so you don’t even have to leave the airport!
You do need to be careful, because when you buy separate tickets, you are not protected by the airlines. For example, if there is a delay on the first flight that causes you to miss the next flight, you will not automatically be rebooked…you’d be out of luck. When changing airports, such as in the example above, you would have to get your luggage and bring it with you. Even if you do this and fly into and out of the same airport, in most cases you will have to exit the secure area, claim your bags, go to the ticket counter, and then go back through security. If you are willing to take these risks, allow plenty of time (such as 5+ hours) between the two flights and consider bringing a carry-on only.
Splitporting is a risk vs. reward situation, but it is legal, not against the rules, and could ultimately save you a good deal of money.
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