Fox News reports that United Airlines and booking website Orbitz have launched a lawsuit against Aktarer Zaman, a young American founder of the Skiplagged.com website. Why? His website helped travellers find cheaper plane tickets using the “hidden city” principle.
This principle is simple: “The idea is to buy a ticket on a plane that makes a stop at your final destination,” says Fox News, which often allows obtaining a cheaper fare than via conventional routes. For example, if you want to travel from New York to San Francisco, you have to book a New York-Lake Tahoe flight (between California and Nevada) with a connection in San Francisco, which you will not take. Of course, this only works for one-way trips and if you do not check baggage in the hold.
But here, United Airlines and the Orbitz booking site want to shut down the site, which they deem guilty of “unfair competition“, and claim $75,000 from the website developer. United Airlines spokesman Christen David said that this type of method can lead to incorrect calculations of the fuel required for flights and delays due to waiting for passengers who will never show up for their connecting flight. According to him, this could also discourage potential United Airlines customers if they think that the flights are full, while seats are vacated during the connections.
Aktarer Zaman told CNNMoney that he expected a lawsuit but there was nothing illegal in his move. He also claims to have made no profit with this site, a “secondary project,” and that this technique “has been around for a long time, but it was not very accessible to customers.”
In addition, some experts point out that the lawsuit against Zaman will not change anything, as passengers are now aware of this technique. “If this site closes,” Robert Mann, president of an aviation consulting firm, told CNNMoney, “there will inevitably be other people finding these fares and making them available.” Like Aviation24.be?
Source: Fox News, CNNMoney, Slate