American Airlines Sues Skiplagged
Skiplagged is getting sued again, this time by American Airlines. The airline filed a lawsuit Thursday against the website which helps customers book “skiplag tickets”.
Skiplag tickets are also known as “hidden-city” or “throwaway” tickets. If you’re not familiar with the terms, it is a somewhat risky way of savings on airfare. This is when you book a flight with a connection at the city which is you real destination. So if you’re looking to fly from A to B, then sometimes it might be cheaper to book a flight from A to C with a connection at B, and just getting off at B, disregarding the second leg of the flight.
The airline is seeking injunctive relief to prevent the site from using American’s logos or publishing any fare information about its flights, as well as damages.
The lawsuit accuses Skiplagged of deceiving travelers by selling American Airlines flights without a proper agency agreement, putting the tickets at immediate risk of invalidation. It also accused the site of copyright infringement over its use of American’s logos.
“Many of the fares displayed on Skiplagged’s website are higher than what the consumer would pay if they simply booked a ticket on American’s website or through an actual authorized agent,” the suit says. “It is a classic bait and switch: draw consumers in with the promise of secret fares, and instead sell the consumer a ticket at a higher price.”
But that’s rarely the case. Skiplagged actually helps customers save. By booking a hidden-city ticket, you might be able to save hundreds of dollars, and airlines understandably hate this practice. United Airlines and Orbitz teamed up to sue Skiplagged back in 2014. Southwest also sued and settled. Airlines then started going after passengers for engaging in this practice.
United Airlines for example wants its agents to be on the lookout for cases of hidden-city ticketing. American Airlines sent a letter to one customer who used the trick at least 52 times. Lufthansa went a step further, suing a passenger who used hidden city tickets multiple times. And just recently American punished a teenager for attempting to skiplag on a flight from Florida to New York via his home of Charlotte. His North Carolina ID tipped off the gate agent.
But why do airlines care if a customer doesn’t fly the last leg of their flight? Airlines price tickets at a price they think people are willing pay. So normally they charge a premium for a more convenient nonstop flight versus a layover in a hub city. And that discrepancy sometimes creates opportunities exploited by Skiplagged.
We’ll see how this latest lawsuit shakes out. But for now Skiplagged is bragging about the outcome of a previous lawsuit right on its homepage where it says “our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.”
HT: Business Insider