Airline sues young entrepreneur for tip website on how to score cheap flights

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Counsellor, Dec 29, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    United Airlines and Orbitz have filed a civil lawsuit against a 22-year-old New Yorker for running a website that searches for the cheapest flights available using a loophole called hidden city ticketing.

    Aktarer Zaman, who founded Skiplagged.com last year, says he isn’t doing anything illegal by exposing an “inefficiency” in airline pricing, a local Fox affiliate reported.

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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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  3. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Since the airlines tend to cancel follow-on legs of reservations when one leg has been missed, I am not sure how this works for round trips. But even when it works the airlines could just randomly change qualifying (cheap hidden city) multi-stop reservations to direct flights that fit within the original departure and arrival times. That would effectively shut down the loophole.
     
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  4. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Well, that would certainly get UA to service some cities where it abandoned mainline service! ;)
     
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  5. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Or change the connecting airport where appropriate (and possible).
     
  6. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    I doubt that such changes in schedule, as a punitive measure, would be economically feasible. Rerouting an entire flight just to inconvenience one or two PAX who are intending to get off at the connecting (hub) city (thereby having to further reroute the rest of the PAX on the flight who were indeed going to catch a connecting flight in that hub) would be very costly.

    However, I suppose that's one of the dangers in hidden city ticketing -- during weather or other irregular operations you could find yourself far from your actual destination.
     
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  7. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Would an airline be entitled by the CoC to change one's flights and routings on an individual basis if schedule changes, cancellations, and IROPs aren't involved? Usually I pick my flights for a reason and I would not be happy if my connecting airports, aircraft types, seats, etc. were changed against my will.
     
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  8. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Nowhere did I suggest rerouting an entire flight. I have had many of my reservations rescheduled over the years. Sometimes the reschedule has been better, sometimes worse, usually no big deal.
    If I took a flight from EWR to RNO via SFO on an N fare and they changed it to EWR - LAX - RNO within the travel times of the original trip, I would be fine with that and it would screw up the hidden fare jumper. They would only have to do it a few times to stop the practice, wouldn't have to prove the practice was illegal and they could even change it back if the flyer called and indicated some reason why SFO needed to be on their itinerary such as a meeting at SFO or meeting friends flying from SFO etc. I do not like legal actions against little guys, I get why they need to protect their fare structures against gaming and I think this can be done lightly enough to inconvenience almost no one who is following the full itinerary.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    They have thousands of people every day legitimately flying such trips (XYZ-SFO-RNO). How many of them should they randomly switch to routings via LAX to make sure they screw up the hidden fare jumpers?
     
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  10. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Many of us have been know to get off, at the wrong airport., and it was never because the ticket was cheaper.
     
  11. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    "Slightly" off-topic but certainly related..

    I know there are two main camps on the topic whether hidden city is a "right" and arguments such as "If I buy a loaf of bread and then only eats ½, that is not illegal so why should I be penalised if I get off before my final destination".. There were arguments since the discovery of the pricing methodologies that creates these 'loopholes" and airlines have fine-tuned their COC to specifically flag hidden cities as a violation. Naturally, this does nothing to sway nor convince the defenders of the "innovative" ticket purchasers.

    Not sure if this analogy has ever been presented before (no way will I claim to have scoured the entire Internet) but I think this closely resembles the situation.

    Ticket buyer wants to travel from A to B and it costs $X.
    Ticket buyer finds an offer to travel from A to C via B for $(X-Y)
    We know how the story goes from here.
    Reason why it cost less to fly a longer distance is irrelevant

    My scenario is that
    I am moving house and I want to get rid of all my "rubbish" in the house
    I hold a garage sale.
    In the sale, I have some rare baseball cards and if you buy these cards directly, I will charge you $500 each.
    However, if you buy a card and a fridge (or a washing machine, or a sofa), I will sell you the bundle for only $300.
    If you agree to buy a card and a sofa for $300 and then only take the card, I will certainly consider that cheating cos you were supposed to help me "throw away" the sofa.
    In my scenario, I sold you more stuff but at a discounted price because it is to my benefit to have you remove the bulky items for me. For that, I am willing to drop my price of the baseball card. Some folks would just want the card and is happy to pay the full $500 I ask for. Some actually need the sofa more than the card so it is a double-win for them. It is still acceptable to me as my goal (remove sofa) is met. But if you promised me to take the bundle for the discount and then only to break your word, I loose twice as I could have earned $200 more for the card and I still have to deal with my sofa.

    I may not agree on the pricing of the tickets but I can see why the airline consider it cheating. They have their reasons to fly to C. It may seemed illogical if you do not know the whole picture just like my garage scenario. The person who wants the sofa might have bought it at $300 without the card but fact is it's a bundle deal to serve my needs.
     
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  12. euromannn
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    euromannn Gold Member

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    Congratulations to Mr. Zaman as I watched this web site for Trick It help for 6 montsh and never was successful booking a trip!!!

    WIsh I had known a web site existed to find the links for cheap travel.
     
  13. dayone
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    dayone Silver Member

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    Two one-way tickets with different destinations on the stub segments.

    Example: IAH-ORD-MKE and ORD-IAH-AUS.
     
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  14. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    Hidden fare jumping:
    I do not believe it is illegal.
    I do believe it may be unethical.
    I do believe that the airline has the right to set certain ticketing rules and should have some reasonable method of enforcement outside of the legal system.
    On thinking this through, I would suppose that they could enforce through MileagePlus. No miles for you Mr. Hidden Fare Jumper.
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I don't think there is an analogy that would convince folks who believe they are simply not bound by a contract.
     
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  16. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    I was hopping a man-in-the-street scenario will help folks to see why what is logical to the seller may not always be clear to others up front.
     
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  17. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    One obvious remedy for the seller here is to be clear up front, and not employ deception.
     
  18. AppForMiles

    AppForMiles New Member

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    They just blew the loophole up for more people to know about.
     

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