Regular readers may be familiar with the indispensable guide to saving money on airfare using hidden city and throwaway tickets.
In the guide I explain how to find extra flights for your ticket that allow you to save money, I outline the risks and how to make best use of the techniques.
Last month Orbitz and United sued to shut down the site.
Hidden city ticketing is 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.
I’m surprised it took a year for the lawsuit to come about. While there’s nothing illegal about throwaway ticketing as such, I am not familiar with the methods Skiplagged is using to access airfare data or what website access agreements may be involved.
The story of this suit is all over the media right now, for some reason (about six weeks after the lawsuit was first filed). But it’s certainly helping Skiplagged, whose founder has an online fundraiser for his legal defense. As of this writing, he’s 92% of the way towards his goal.
I love the David and Goliath story here. I also think a good legal defense fund, far more than the $20,000 being sought, it appropriate. Because I hate when companies prevail through legal threats purely because of the expense involved.
Ironically United and Orbitz aren’t just raising money for the legal costs to fight them, they’re educating consumers about how to actually go about using these techniques. My posts on throwaway ticketing have been viewed about 40,000 times today and no doubt other discussions online have gotten attention as well (not to mention all of the people that have gone to the Skiplagged site!).
Hopefully the media attention alone will encourage United and Orbitz to back off. As though United doesn’t have enough of a problem for leaving a dog alone on the tarmac in the pouring rain…