Orbitz And United Airlines Sue 22-Year-Old Over Cheap Airfare Site
The travel website Skiplagged has been sued by United Airlines and Orbitz Worldwide LLC after the two travel giants accused Skiplagged of using a prohibited form of travel to undercut other companies’ ticket sales.
Skiplagged, which was founded last year by 22-year-old New Yorker Aktarer Zaman, helps customers find the cheapest flights by using the “hidden city” technique, according to Bloomberg. This technique involves purchasing airfare on a multistop flight, then disembarking before the plane reaches its final city. Bloomberg reports that often, fares that go through hub cities to a different destination are cheaper than fares that go those same cities and nowhere else.
However, this method of purchasing tickets is apparently prohibited by many airlines.
In its simplest form, a passenger purchases a ticket from city A to city B to city C but does not travel beyond city B,” says the companies’ complaint. “‘Hidden City’ ticketing is strictly prohibited by most commercial airlines because of logistical and public-safety concerns.”
One of United’s concerns is that when passengers leave a plane before their scheduled departure city, this can cause delays and inaccurate passenger counts, as well as a negative effect on fuel load calculations.
The lawsuit, which was recently filed in a Chicago federal court, alleges that Zaman used Skiplagged to “intentionally and maliciously” interfered with airline industry business relationships “by promoting prohibited forms of travel.” The Washington Times reports that United and Orbitz are seeking $75,000 in lost revenue. The lawsuit alleges Skiplagged probably wasn’t incorporated, therefore Zaman may be held personally liable.
Zaman, who claims that there is nothing illegal about his website, says he’s made no profit from Skiplagged, according to Fox affiliate KDVR.
“[Hidden city ticketing] has been around for a while, it just hasn’t been very accessible to consumers,” Zaman told the site.
Skiplagged is currently accepting donations to its legal fund to help fight the lawsuit.