You may not have known that it’s cheaper to book a two-leg flight and just get off at the stopover than it is to book a direct flight to the stopover city, but United Airlines and Orbitz will now ensure that you do.
The two travel companies are suing Skiplagged.com, a site that shows people how to take advantage of “hidden city” connection discounts, in which passengers save money by getting off at a stopover. The brainchild of 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman, the website uncovers an existing United Airlines pricing flaw that makes connecting flights so much cheaper than direct flights that you save money even when you don’t bother with the last leg of the flight.
In the lawsuit, United and Orbitz call Skiplagged “unfair competition” and hope to regroup $75,000 in perceived lost profits. Meanwhile, Zaman is raising money for Skiplagged’s defense and has reached two-thirds of his goal. In a recent Reddit AMA, Zaman explained that the corporations’ lawsuit is a civil case because Skiplagged isn’t breaking any laws.
“Consumers can actually save lots of money. That’s generally frowned upon by for-profit corporations. What Skiplagged does is definitely not illegal, which is why this is not a criminal case,” he said.
The real winner of the day is the Streisand Effect, a phenomenon in which an attempt to conceal information on the Internet turns it into common knowledge. If you didn’t already know about this money-saving travel practice, you certainly will now. However, it’s probably not a good idea to try it out. Even though it isn’t illegal, sources told Bloomberg “a traveler caught on a hidden-city routing is subject to having his ticket voided without refund.”
Photo by skinnylawyer