Why Kiwi.com is different: our travel hacks explained

Travel hacks

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Read all about the travel hacks that make Kiwi.com the perfect travel provider for smart adventurers everywhere. Come and hack the system with us

Traveling takes time and money — two of anyone’s precious personal resources. Whether you’re looking for the quickest route, the cheapest, the most direct, the one with the most convenient departure time, or even one with a long layover somewhere exciting, Kiwi.com has you covered. Our Kiwi-Code scours over 95% of the global travel inventory and creates combinations of flights, trains and buses that you can’t find anywhere else. We love to think differently and challenge the status quo when it comes to travel, hacking some of the broadly-accepted carrier practices to uncover great savings and new ways to navigate the world. This is how we do it.

Self-transfer: endless route possibilities

Girl looking out of an airport terminal window and smiling — ShutterstockSelf-transfer broadens your selection of route options immeasurably — Shutterstock

Kiwi.com is a travel provider that uses tech innovation to put together flights, trains and buses operated by different companies to create entirely personalized itineraries. The industry term for this is “virtual interlining”, but we like to say it like it is: self-transfer. This is an effective travel hack because it gives you a much greater choice of routes and prices you don’t have to rely only on the connection options that the airlines decide for you. 

Instead, you treat each flight separately, as you would if moving from a plane to a train. You collect your luggage after each flight as if it were your final destination and check-in again for the next part of the trip effectively transferring yourself. It also gives you the bonus opportunity of being able to leave the airport you don’t have to remain in the transit area to wait for the next flight as you aren’t limited by the carrier’s rules. You can take time to explore your stopover city, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.

Do remember though, that once you leave the transit area to make a self-transfer, you’ll be crossing the border as if it were your final destination. This may mean that you need additional documentation for the stopover country or territory (such as a visa), though this is not always the case.

The reason why we offer self-transfer connections is simple: to give you more flexibility

Commonly, when an airline sells tickets with one or more transfers, that airline will take care of your transfer(s) at the connecting airport(s). You stay in the transit area, while the airline moves your checked baggage from one airplane to the next.

As we mentioned, the central drawback of relying on airline transfer is that the combinations of flight routes are limited. Moreover, it can be more expensive. Meanwhile, with Kiwi.com’s self-transfer, being able to choose from routes operated by a variety of airlines helps immensely in building an itinerary that’s perfect for you.

Throwaway ticketing: pay less for the same flight

Have you ever noticed that airlines often charge more for a one-way ticket than for a return? If you’re looking to travel one-way, or for a single flight segment before making a self-transfer, Kiwi.com has a smart little hack that’ll save you money: throwaway ticketing.

If the Kiwi-Code determines that a one-way flight ticket is more expensive than the return, it will include the return segment in that itinerary — for a future date that, to you, will seem random. Consequently, we’re able to quote you an overall cheaper price. Once the tickets are booked and the itinerary is finalized, from the airline’s perspective, you will be traveling on the return leg. But of course, you don’t have to (why would you, unless you were dealt an incredibly specific change of plan?) — you can simply “throw it away”.

Hidden cities: make the most of the middle

Man with a backpack stood outisde an airport — ShutterstockLeave the airport at your technical transit point to discover your hidden city — Shutterstock

Now, here’s a hack that might surprise you — it’s not for the faint-hearted. It came about due to pricing policies of airlines that make very popular routes more expensive for a traveler. For instance, an airline might price a ticket from London to New York considerably higher than one from London to Toronto, via New York.

As far as the airline’s concerned, New York is merely the layover. Meanwhile, we refer to New York as your hidden city, your final destination, as you’d disembark there without going on to Toronto. The hidden city is nestled discreetly in between the origin and the ‘technical’ destination a magical place just waiting to be discovered by you. (After all, New York is pretty magical.) And there you have it a much cheaper price for a ticket to where you want to be.

Essentially, the concept of hidden cities takes throwaway ticketing one step further. The idea is more-or-less the same: booking a ticket that you won’t use in order to cut costs. But instead of the unused portion of your itinerary being a return journey, it’s an onward journey.

Cabin baggage and entry requirements

Flying on an itinerary that has a hidden city does come with considerations. Don’t bring checked baggage on your hidden-city trip — you need to be able to travel with cabin baggage only. Why? To use our example route, if you checked in any baggage in London, it’d go all the way to Toronto. Cabin baggage, however, remains on your person and so it can leave with you at New York.

Furthermore, you need to make sure that you have the correct documentation not just to enter the territory at your final destination (in this case, the US); but also to “enter” the territory at the final destination in the eyes of the airline (in this case, Canada). Put clearly, the airline won’t let you board the plane without being sure that you’ll be permitted to enter their final destination of Canada. It’s only you who knows of your intention to leave the airport in New York — the airline won’t know about your plan to stay in New York and you shouldn’t tell them. Let’s not be shy here, this is one of the best hacks out there — it can really cut your costs. It’s just that the fact that you’re not traveling on the connecting flight is better kept to yourself, as the airline won’t necessarily be happy about it. We want this ingenious money-saving hack to be your secret so that everything goes smoothly for you.

Nomad: accessible adventuring 

Nomad is the globetrotter’s must. It’s a tool on our website that takes your dream destinations, together with the lengths of time that you want to spend at each one, and generates a selection of the very cheapest and most practical itineraries for you to choose from. You won’t find a hack quite like it anywhere else — you’ll be amazed at how easy it can be to join the dots in creating your trip of a lifetime.

Nomad vs. multi-city — what’s the difference?

The multi-city search feature on our website allows you to put your destinations in a certain sequence, departing from and arriving at each on a concrete date. This is useful if you need to be in certain places at particular times in a particular order.

Meanwhile, Nomad takes your destinations and shuffles them, creating unique routes based on the most competitive prices. So, you get to go to all the places you want to go for the periods of time you’d like to be there, but Nomad finds the best order in which to do it for the best price. It’s great if you have numerous places on your bucket list and are more flexible with your travel plans.

Do you want more travel articles? Visit Kiwi.com Stories.