The dirty trick airlines don’t want you to know

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 10 Desember 2014 | 20.01

It may seem like a harmless practice but airline giant is hoping to put a swift end to it. Source: Supplied

A START-UP consumer website that aims to allow travellers to find cheaper flights through "hidden city" tickets is being sued by the might of United Airways and Orbitz.com.

The premise of the site, called Skiplagged.com, works like this: you want to go from city A to city B but there is a cheaper airfare from city A to C, with a stopover in B. You book the second (cheaper) flight that has the layover of your actually intended destination and simply forgo the connection.

As most travellers don't want to endure multiple stage flights, trips with stopovers can be priced dramatically lower. On the website today, Skiplagged claimed to offer savings on certain routes of up to 67 per cent.

The web service is designed to exploit the pricing practices of airliners and unsurprisingly has been met with swift opposition from the industry.

While the site promotes a practice that is against the terms of conditions for most airlines, Skipplagged.com is not committing a crime in the US, and as such the lawsuit is classed as civil litigation.

In the suit, the plaintiffs (United Airways and Orbitz) have accused Skiplagged and its owner of "intentionally and maliciously" interfering with their business by "promoting prohibited forms of travel" and inducing "breach of Orbitz Worldwide's travel agency contracts with commercial airlines and of United's customer contractual relationships."

It's the dirty little trick that airlines don't want you doing. Source: AP

Last week, the owner and founder of the site took to Reddit in a AMA (ask me anything) to explain his situation.

The founder of the online service said that the idea for the website was an accident.

"It was simply an accidental discovery while searching for flights from NYC to SEA. I noticed the cheapest had a layover in SFO, but the cheapest for NYC to SFO was significantly more expensive," he said.

There are of course a few logistic issues to keep in mind if travelling in this fashion. As one redditor named 'nicasucio' pointed out, you can only do it when booking one-way flights.

"I tried this in 2009. I can't remember the specific itinerary as I was travelling a lot then, but what I remember was trying to check in for my return trip, and the airline had voided my flight. They said because I didn't board the plane from B to C, then they automatically void the ticket."

Another redditor named T-MoneyAllDey, replied; "Exactly. You have to book two one way tickets. I've used skiplagged twice with no problems. My first was Chicago to Brazil. My return was Brazil to Chicago to Ottawa. I got off at Chicago. My second was LAX to ATL to Bahamas. I got off at ATL. Saved me about $150."

However another downfall of this style of sneaky travel is the fact that you will only be able to have carry on luggage as any checked baggage will be sent through to the final destination of the ticket.

Those looking to exploit the tactic offered by Skiplagged.com could presumably use it once or twice, however as airlines become increasingly aware of the practice, the repercussions for travellers could render the trick more trouble than it's worth.

As for the fate of skiplagged, time will tell if the courts will heed the call of industry giants.

It's not about the final destination. It's about the layover. Source: AP


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