Supporters donate thousands to Skiplagged defense fund

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  1. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    New developments with Skiplagged. A young David versus an airline Goliath?

    Supporters donate thousands to Skiplagged defense fund

    Harriet Baskas, Special for USA TODAY 9:10 p.m. EST January 3, 2015

    With comments such as "Make it happen, dude," and "Don't back down," supporters have donated over $50,000 to a legal defense fund for the creator of a website that makes it easy for travelers to find cheap fares using "hidden city" ticketing.

    Aktarer Zaman and his website Skiplagged are being sued by United Airlines and Orbitz, which claim in a lawsuit filed last month in an Chicago federal court that Skiplagged engages in "unfair competition" by promoting what is calls the hidden city ticketing "ploy," described in the suit as "a travel arrangement where the passenger's intended final destination is not the final arrival city on his or her itinerary, but rather an intermediate or connecting city."

    Last Tuesday, when news of the suit and the defense fund went viral across many social networks, some parts of Skiplagged went down due to increased traffic, but today all the features on the site are working, the 22-year-old Zaman told Today in the Sky in an interview.

    The support for the legal fund is "quite amazing," said Zaman. "I have no idea how much this [legal fight] is going to cost and how long it will take. It's possible we can reach an agreement soon or it could lag on for years. So it's reassuring to know that I'm not alone in this."

    In the suit Orbitz and United claim that Zaman's site is violating agreements and encouraging customers to engage in deceptive behavior by purchasing hidden-city tickets. They say Skiplagged's actions will have an impact on the plaintiffs "far in excess of $75,000."

    "If individual consumers want to try to evade airline rules and are prepared to deal with any consequences; that is their choice," Orbitz Vice-President of Corporate Affairs Chris Chiames said via e-mail, "but our contractual agreements require that we not knowingly facilitate such transactions. Skiplagged used our site to further its business proposition without our approval. We asked them to stop and they declined. So we joined United in the litigation."

    United is not seeking money from Mr. Zaman, said airline spokeswoman Christen David, "rather we're seeking an injunction against Mr. Zaman and Skiplagged to prevent this from happening in the future."

    United says "gaming the system by purchasing a ticket to another city beyond your actual destination and then getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical and a violation of every customer's contract with the airline."

    But Zaman said "there is no law that says a person has to get on every flight they buy."

    Harriet Baskas is a Seattle-based airports and aviation writer and USA TODAY Travel's "At the Airport" columnist. She occasionally contributes to Ben Mutzabaugh's Today in the Sky blog.

    See:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2015/01/02/skiplagged-orbitz-united-lawsuit/21187949/
     
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  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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  3. seeword

    seeword Silver Member

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    I hope more people join in. A few dollars each, as shown, can add up to quite a defense fund. This young man shouldn't be on the hook for the cost of this lawsuit, regardless of the final result.
     
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  4. iolaire
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  5. iolaire
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  6. uggboy
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  7. r0m8470

    r0m8470 Silver Member

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    I am curious about why United did not file in New York? Based on my professional experience, a lot of companies normally place New York as a neutral place to settle court-related matters in case something happened.

    I am also curious about the court perspective of the argument that United cannot generate revenue out of the ditched seat. For most people, the view was United indeed cannot generate revenue, because revenue has been generated albeit cheaper - through their own pricing mechanism.
     
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