United Airlines and Orbitz is looking to file a civil lawsuit against 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman for lost revenue. The young computer whiz, who hails from New York City, has discovered a way for travelers to workaround expensive air flight prices, and has since shared his strategy online.
His website, Skiplagged.com, was founded in 2013 and offers ‘hidden city’ ticketing to save frequent travelers money. The idea behind the operation is fairly simple: a person looking to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles, for example, can book an alternative flight to another destination with a stopover in LA. He or she would then skip the last leg of the journey.
The strategy, in many occasions, is cheaper since airlines offer discounted prices to attract travelers to regional airports – which frequently route their flights through major hub cities. However, hidden city ticketing only works for passengers with carry-on luggage and a one-way ticket to their destination.
United Airlines, along with the US booking site, Orbitz, is now suing Mr. Zaman for $75,000. According to the official lawsuit report, “Defendant Zaman…has used his website to intentionally and maliciously interfere with Plaintiffs’ contracts and business relations in the airline industry and in doing so has falsely associated Skiplagged with Orbitz and United.”
Zaman, however, insists that hidden city ticketing is, in fact, common knowledge, “[it] has been around for a while, it just hasn’t been very accessible to consumers,” he states.
At this time, he denies breaking any laws, claiming his motive was to simply expose an “inefficiency” in airline prices.
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer editor, also explains that these ticketing exploits can also be found throughout Europe, and even on the UK rail fares for those who prefer to travel by land. The travel industry appears to have plenty of these workarounds for those who know where to look for them.
Zaman now intends to fight the charges against him from United Airlines, and is currently raising donations in order to do so. Thus far, donations have been pouring in from travelers all over the world, eager to help. The website has already raised over $9,000 since launching the donation portal.