It’s not illegal (and the New York Times “Ethicist” endorses it), but it’s generally against airline rules, and there are some basic practices you need to follow to make sure you or your bags don’t wind up in the wrong city!
- You’re buying a ticket from A to B to C, where A to C is cheaper than buying A to B, but getting off in B.
- You can’t check bags or else they will go to C.
- In the event of weather or cancellations, an airline may want to reroute you to C via a different connecting city (“D”).
Airlines see themselves as selling you a ticket from A to C, rather than a seat on a plane for A-B and also B-C where you have the right not to sit in the B-C seat.
For the last year a website called SkipLagged has been able to automate the process of finding routes for you to book that can save you money through this hidden city technique.
I’m surprised it’s taken this long, but United and Orbitz are now suing the site.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the complaints are based on unauthorized linking to their websites, and unfair business practices.
Among those concerns, according to the complaint, is United’s resultant inability to estimate flight passenger counts which can cause departure delays and affect fuel load computations.
Orbitz, an online travel booking site, and United claim neither of them gave Zaman permission to engage in hidden-city ticketing. Claiming he is unfairly competing against them and creating false associations by linking customers to their websites, they’re seeking a court order halting the conduct.
It would be a fascinating legal argument, although I imagine that with much deeper pockets Orbitz and United are better-positioned to prevail regardless of the merits.
(HT: Alan H.)
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