It’s not illegal but that doesn’t mean airlines and booking sites want people to do it. Airlines watch out for the practice, and can retaliate by voiding a ticket without a refund, or stripping travelers of elite status or reward miles. The 22-year-old, Aktarer Zaman, said he founded Skiplagged to save people money, and that what he is doing is not illegal.
“Hidden city” ticketing is the practice of booking a one-way plane ticket from one city to another, and then getting off the plane on a layover before the final destination. It may seem counterintuitive, but booking the longer flight can sometimes be cheaper because of the convoluted mess that is airline pricing.
The 22-year-old, Aktarer Zaman, said he founded Skiplagged to save people money, and that what he is doing is not illegal.
United and Orbitz are suing Zaman in Chicago federal court for unfair competition. The companies claim he “intentionally and maliciously” interfered with airline business and promoted “prohibited forms of travel.”
Hidden city ticketing is one of a few travel hacks that frequent fliers are aware of, but one that airlines discourage. Others include “open-jaw” itineraries, flying home from a different airport; “throwaway” ticketing, which is similar to hidden city because travelers only use part of a booked trip; and “back-to-back” ticketing, which has become less common since Saturday-night stays have become more desirable.
When booking a plane ticket required calling a travel agent, it was less obvious when there were sneaky ways to get cheaper fares. Now that fares are listed on publicly available websites, however, it’s easier to scrape the info. Even if United and Orbitz win this lawsuit, as long as these loopholes exist, there will be another site doing something similar. Read more…