American Airlines Sues 'Skiplagging' Website

Skiplagged sells 'hidden city' tickets
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2023 8:56 PM CDT
American Airlines Sues 'Skiplagging' Website
American Airlines planes parked at Pittsburgh International Airport.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, file)

American Airlines appears to be getting tough on skiplagging, also known as "hidden city" ticketing—the practice of buying an airline ticket with a layover and ending your journey in the layover city instead of the final destination. This can save travelers money when the longer flight is cheaper than a direct flight to the layover city, which is sometimes the case on routes with a lot of competition between airlines, but airlines say it's tantamount to fraud and is banned under conditions of carriage. American has filed a federal lawsuit against Skiplagged, a website that boasts it can save passengers money by exploiting loopholes, USA Today reports. The airline is threatening to cancel every ticket sold through the site.

The site's founder, Aktarer Zaman, has said he's helping people avoid "price gouging" airline practices. The lawsuit says Skiplagged has never been authorized to resell American Airlines tickets. "Skiplagged's conduct is deceptive and abusive," the suit states. "Skiplagged deceives the public into believing that, even though it has no authority to form and issue a contract on American's behalf, somehow it can still issue a completely valid ticket. It cannot. Every 'ticket' issued by Skiplagged is at risk of being invalidated." American previously sued Skiplagged in 2014 but a judge threw the case out of court the following year. The airline is also suing "travel hack" firm Kiwi.

In late June, a 17-year-old booked to fly on American Airlines from Gainesville, Florida to New York City had his ticket canceled after airline staff realized that his real destination was Charlotte, North Carolina, the New York Times reports. The teen's father says he was forced to pay for a direct flight—which cost $300 more than the Gainesville-NYC fare—and was banned from flying on American again for three years. Other skiplaggers have been told they could lose their frequent flier miles. Travel experts tell the Times that skiplagging has been growing in popularity for a simple reason: Air travel has become a lot more expensive in recent years. (More American Airlines stories.)

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