The Hacker Fares option from Kayak (shown at far left) displays low prices… (Screen grab from kayak.com )
Hacker Fares sound downright illegal but they're not. Kayak recently coined the term that pops up in its airline searches along with "nonstops," "1 stop," etc., when you go airfare shopping at the online travel website.
Basically, Hacker Fares allow you to book two one-way flights with separate airlines and separate tickets. (Don't confuse this with code sharing, which involves flying on different airlines through inter-airline agreements.)
The point, of course, is to save money. Savvy bargain hunters already know it's not rocket science to mix and match airlines to find a low price. I like the fact that Kayak makes it easy by displaying Hacker Fare options alongside other choices.
I checked a weekend trip in early October from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The cheapest round-trip price was the Hacker Fare at $311, flying outbound on AirTran ($151) and returning on Virgin America ($160). In this case, it was only $8 shy of round-trip fares on a single airline.
I also checked round-trip airfares from Los Angeles to Omaha over Thanksgiving. Hacker Fares were cheaper ($465) than single airline fares (starting at $505).
Bottom line: Hacker Fares provide one more way to save on the cost of airline tickets. And where's the downside to that?