Apparently, a 22-year-old entrepreneur has incurred the wrath of a major U.S. airline and a leading global online travel company for providing customers a platform to buy cheaper tickets.
Last year, Aktarer Zaman from New York City created a website called Skiplagged.com which helps flyers search for cheap flights using a ploy known as "Hidden city" ticketing – when you book a flight where the layover city is your real destination. For instance, if you want to fly from New York to Chicago, it could be cheaper to take an indirect flight to Los Angeles which has a layover in Chicago.
Even though not illegal, it’s a seemingly controversial practice mainly because, well, airlines or travel agencies – or any major business corporations for that matter – don’t like to be tricked by their customers.
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Deeming Skiplagged.com as “unfair competition,” United Airlines and Orbitz filed a federal lawsuit against Zaman last month. The two companies are seeking $75,000 in damages from lost revenue, claiming, “Zaman has intentionally and maliciously used Skiplagged to damage [their] businesses.”
The entrepreneur disagrees, of course. He told CBS that he does not make any money on the site and only assists people without actually booking flights which, again, is not against the law.
However, Orbitz and United are adamant that Zaman must shut down Skiplagged in order to "protect the vast majority of customers who buy legitimate tickets."
“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,” states the complaint filed by the companies. “‘Hidden city’ ticketing is strictly prohibited by most commercial airlines because of logistical and public-safety concerns.”
While the two businesses are going on with the lawsuit – ironically making more people aware of how hidden city ticketing works – Zaman has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his legal defense fees.