A New Kind of “Hidden City Ticketing” for Those Flying to Madrid

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Hidden city ticketing is a concept that some readers will be familiar with, and perhaps others won’t. The concept originated in the United States and involves the booking of a flight itinerary with the express intention of skipping your connecting flight. It only really works on a one-way basis, because once you no-show for a flight, the rest of your itinerary is usually cancelled straight away.

Why might you want to do this? Well… people are willing to pay more money to fly on non-stop flights, so airlines charge more. Accordingly, it can be possible to find a connecting flight that is far cheaper than flying direct.  British Airways regulars might be familiar with the so-called ex-EU deals.  By starting your trip in continental Europe, BA often charges far less.  Since BA cannot offer a non-stop flight to New York for somebody living in Oslo, BA offer a one-stop option via London.  Simple enough… but since Lufthansa, Air France, etc. also offer one-stop options, the competition ensures that prices are lower.

What Does This Have to do with Madrid?

I was looking for a flight from London to Madrid in mid-February.  Google Flights is the place where I do my research…

My preferred date seemed to be very expensive…

This is where Google Flights’ Explore function comes in handy. Taking a peek at the Iberian pensinsula, I noticed that Valladolid of all places was pricing out at £50.  This struck me as really rather odd, since I limit my searches to Oneworld airlines, and I don’t believe that any Oneworld airline flies to Valladolid.

By drilling down into the flights on offer, I was surprised to find out that Iberia is selling Flight + Train combinations…


Just to be sure, I clicked through to the Iberia website. I couldn’t replicate the £50 fare, but I could easily find many £59 options…

I’ll get around to booking my flight to Madrid soon, but instead of booking a direct flight, I’ll surely be booking a trip to Valladolid. Naturally I will just neglect to transfer to the train station for the ride up to Valladolid, and instead stay in Madrid as planned.

I don’t really believe that no-showing for a train ride to Valladolid would cause a return flight from Madrid to London to be cancelled. But I suspect that wouldn’t be an issue since return flights to/from Madrid are usually reasonably priced – it’s just the one-ways that can get out of hand!

Can You Earn Avios on the Train Now?

Good question… I’ll have to do some more research and save that answer for a future post. It would likely be Iberia Plus Avios if anything.

Let us know in the comments section if you’ve found the answer first…


  1. Erwin Lansing says

    A similar trick has been doing the rounds on the insideflyer.nl forum through Amsterdam. While you do not have to take the actual train, you do have to pick up your train ticket at the train station at the airport. In that case, you are assumed to have taken the train and you’d even earn miles and segments. Might pay off to investigate if there’s a similar rule with Iberia through Madrid.

      • Frank says

        Do be careful though, because if you have a train segment on KLM prior to your flight, you do need to get your train ticket stamped by a train guard or you will not be allowed to board your flight. This is actively enforced!

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