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article imageUnited, Orbitz sue 22-year-old whose site exposes cheap airfares

By Michael Thomas     Dec 30, 2014 in Travel
A 22-year-old whose website helps travelers save money through a little-known loophole is now facing the wrath of United Airlines and its partner, Orbitz.
As reported by CNN Money (via Fox13), United Airines and Orbitz are suing Aktarer Zaman in federal court for $75,000 in lost revenue and for unfair competition.
Zaman founded skiplagged.com last year, a site that helps travelers make the most out of what's called "hidden city ticketing." The way it works is simple — travelers book a flight with a connection, but rather than grab the connecting flight in the intermediary city, they get off there.
For example, if one wanted to fly to Calgary from Toronto, Skiplagged might for instance recommend a flight to Vancouver with a layover in Calgary. Of course, "hidden city ticketing" only works if you're on a one-way flight and you're not checking any luggage — otherwise one's bags would arrive in the final destination.
Zaman told CNN Money that he figured a lawsuit was inevitable, but says that he's not doing anything illegal with Skiplagged. Indeed, "hidden city ticketing" has been a well-kept secret for some time. According to CNN Money, some airline ticket agents were at one time trained on how to help customers find those fares.
The idea behind the lawsuit is that if a large swathe of travelers start to exploit the loophole, it could result in a lot of lost revenue. Mashable says that some airlines punish — by voiding a ticket without a refund or stripping customers of reward miles and the like — those who frequently use "hidden city ticketing."
Even if Zaman's website is completely legal, the court fees could end up costing the young entrepreneur a lot of money. He claims to not make any money from the site and that it's just a "side project."
Zaman has set up a legal fund on GoFundMe, but it's likely that even if he loses the lawsuit or shuts the site down, other sites will pop up offering similar services.
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