The other day I was searching for a good flight from Istanbul to Stockholm in business class, using my favorite tools: Kayak, Kiwi, and Google Flights. The itinerary wasn’t complex, but the dates were tricky because of the summer season, so I checked many options for the best prices. Usually, Kayak and Google Flights give me the right picture, but this time I was pleasantly surprised to see a Kiwi travel hack that saved me €492; see screenshots below!
It’s called a hidden city travel hack, and it added an extra city to my itinerary to lower my ticket price! These types of tricks are the ones that pro travelers are used to, but now they are at everyone’s fingertips with Kiwi. It’s a great way to use technology to democratize advanced knowledge and give travelers more power to decide and get better options while saving money.
In this post, I cover Kiwi travel hacks, what they are, and how to use them to save money when booking a trip! Let’s dive in.
What is Kiwi?
Kiwi is a travel search engine and booking platform founded in 2012 by Oliver Dlouhý and Jozef Képesi in Brno, Czech Republic. It offers several travel products, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages.
Kiwi became incredibly popular thanks to its virtual interlining feature, allowing users to book flights from airlines that don’t usually cooperate, such as an itinerary with Ryanair and Air France. This often results in significant savings, though it involves more complicated logistics, such as needing to re-check luggage when changing flights or self-transferring to a different airport.
Kiwi’s unique “Kiwi-Code” technology allows users to book flights that would not be possible with other travel search engines. For example, users can book a flight that starts in one city and ends in another, even if there is no direct flight between the two cities. This is possible because Kiwi can book separate flights connecting to other cities.
In addition, Kiwi has a Stopover feature that adds a stopover to a flight for free or at a discounted price. This is a great way to explore new cities or countries if you have the flexibility without having to book a separate trip.
Is Kiwi legit?
Yes, Kiwi is a legit travel search engine and booking platform. You can rest assured your booking and information are safe. It has been in business since 2012 and has over 10 million customers. The company is based in the Czech Republic and is regulated by the Czech National Bank. Kiwi is available in over 190 countries, 40 languages and has processed over 100 million bookings.
There have been some complaints about Kiwi, but these are mostly related to customer service issues. In the past, the company has been known to be slow to respond to customer inquiries and to have difficulty resolving problems (2015-2018). However, there have been no reports of Kiwi defrauding customers or failing to deliver on its services!
Kiwi Travel Hacks: A Great Way To Save Money
Our blog is all about travel hacking, which means using techniques and less common tips to get the most out of your trip while getting the most out of your money. Pro travelers with plenty of experience usually know these tricks; it takes significant time and effort to put them into practice. Kiwi does this for you and puts it at your fingertips. That’s a great way of democratizing knowledge.
When you search for flights on Kiwi, the results will consist of all the standard options from all the relevant carriers, plus any available travel hack options:
1. Hidden cities ticketing
This hack allows you to lower your ticket price by adding an extra city to your destination that you don’t want to visit. It doesn’t sound very easy, but let’s break it down.
For example, if you want to fly from Madrid to Paris, you could try searching for flights from Madrid to Bordeaux via Paris. Then you can simply book this flight and get-off in Paris! You don’t take the second flight from Paris to Bordeaux. That’s totally fine and legal.
What’s the catch?
If you have checked luggage, it will go to your final destination (unless you do border control or stated otherwise), so make sure to either ask the agent to check your luggage to the city you want or not have checked luggage at all. Some airlines don’t like this practice, so you will need to check in to all your flights.
Why does it make it cheaper? It’s all about competition. Airlines will make a flight with a layover cheaper than other airlines offering a direct flight. Most people avoid layovers; it takes longer and is a hassle, so airlines provide a better deal to attract passengers.
In this example, Bordeaux is a less popular destination, and Air France will try to compete with Iberia, which has a direct flight from Madrid to Bordeaux. If both airlines were the same price, you would pick the direct route, which is simpler and faster. That’s why Air France needs to offer a better price via Paris, making the leg from Madrid to Paris cheaper! That’s where you come in and book 🙂
In my original example, this is exactly what happened, booking a flight from Istambul to Umea via Stockholm was much cheaper than booking from Istambul to Stockholm directly. I wouldn’t fly to Umea; I just had to get off at Stockholm.
Here’s how you see a hidden city travel hack when you search in Kiwi:
And how they explain in more detail:
The self-transfer hack connects airlines and carriers that don’t usually cooperate with each other. It has become extremely popular, especially when no direct flights between smaller airports exist.
For example, flying from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to Mendoza (Argentina) is hard; there are no flights between them with the same airline. Instead, you can book a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Cordoba with one airline and then from Cordoba to Mendoza with a different airline.
Many people would do that manually, meaning you must book two separate tickets on different websites, fill in your information, and keep track of two separate booking references. The Kiwi self-transfer hack does it for you!
What’s the catch?
Sometimes you need to re-check your luggage or transfer to a different terminal or airport by your own means, which is generally fine if you don’t have reduced mobility, need passenger assistance, or have enough time to do it.
Here’s how you see a self-transfer itinerary on Kiwi
And how they explain it:
3. Throwaway ticketing
This one is my favorite and one that I’ve used the most. This hack involves booking a round-trip flight and then only using the outbound leg.
As of 2023, and after the pandemic with the 10% airfare increase, airlines detected an increase in the number of throwaway tickets and are slowly changing to a different business model, where there’s no difference between two one-way tickets or one round-trip. But a few years ago, the difference was insane, with up to 80% cheaper by buying round trip compared to one-way.
Look at this example where a round trip is cheaper than a one way. Here are the prices when going one-way from Stockholm to Amsterdam on July 8th.
And here are the prices when booking a round trip.
That’s a $38 savings without any extra effort! And it gets cheaper if you start playing with different dates. This is what Kiwi does for you at no extra effort.
Multi-city trip options have been available for a really long time at travel agencies, but travelers always had to create their own itineraries. This means you had to spend hours testing with different combinations in dozens of browser windows to make their own comparisons and eventually find the best route.
The Kiwi Nomad travel hack does it for you in just seconds. Nomad from Kiwi allows you to input multiple destinations and your desired duration of stay in each of them. Then, it shuffles the destinations you input and finds you the most cost-effective itinerary.
Here’s how you see the Nomad view when you search on Kiwi.com. In my case, I started in Buenos Aires and added New York and Miami to check which order was best.
Other great Features
I’m a computer scientist, and it’s really hard not to look at Kiwi’s innovations and celebrate them. For me, technology is all about enabling people to do more things more easily and simplifying their lives. While at the same time, it must be broadly accessible and democratized. Cars wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t thanks to Ford and how they made them accessible to the masses.
Kiwi is the first online agency I have seen that uses technology to democratize advanced knowledge around booking flights and planning a trip. When you search, results show all available options, including those with travel hacks and more complicated logistics, which other sites often ignore. While these options are more complex, they can save travelers thousands, just like in my example. A simple click saved me €491.
Kiwi gives you more information than other online travel agencies, giving you more power to decide. That’s something I celebrate.
Looking forward to seeing their following features shortly! What has your experience been? Let me know in the comments below!