Blogger Reveals Trick To Getting Cheaper Fares So United And Orbitz Sue Him

220px-United_Airlines_-_N14219_-_Flickr_-_skinnylawyer_(1)aktarer-zaman We have long discussed the shameful treatment of passengers by the airlines, which continue to gouge consumers while reducing seat space and even the most basic accommodations. The complaints against the airlines have increased recently due to the airlines refusing to pass along record low fuels prices to consumers in maintaining high-cost tickets. Now, United Airlines has sued a 22-year-old blogger, Aktarer Zaman, for showing passengers how to find cheap flights on his website Orbitz has joined in the ignoble effort.

Ironically, Zaman’s system is already known to many seasoned passengers. It involves buying a ticket with a layover at your actual destination and just not taking the final leg of the trip. The result can be a substantial reduction in airfare.

United and Orbitz are charging Skiplagged with “unfair competition” and are demanding $75,000 in lost revenue from Zaman. Ironically, the lawsuit is clearly backfiring since United has succeeded in spreading the word even farther on the Internet.

The “hidden city” ticketing tactic is already routinely used by frequent fliers. It is not illegal and thus it is hard to see how discussing the tactic or advising people about it would be illegal. The intent is clearly to grind this young man into a fine dust as a warning to others who may want to inform the public of such methods.

Zaman was born in Bangladesh, but grew up in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science at age 20 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His website is nothing more than a blog. He works at a technology start-up.

Of course, United and other airlines are steadfastly opposed to any effort to address their own practices in the inflation of ticket prices and fees for passengers as they rake in record profits. After all, that is nothing more than fair competition at work.

Source: CNN

41 thoughts on “Blogger Reveals Trick To Getting Cheaper Fares So United And Orbitz Sue Him”

  1. Try using the site. It is overwhelmed. Lots of advertising means lots of revenue for the kid. Of course it could be the North Koreans hacking the site. Or it could be hackers hired by orbitz and the air lines. Now where is the NSA when you need them?

  2. Isaac – awesome story. The pen is mightier than the customer service complaint phone call. I still wish you had wielded it, though, because the hotel only waived the charges for your parents, but kept the procedure.

  3. Groty – it’s true that the tarmac is littered with dead airlines. And a business climate that weeds out competition is also detrimental to the customer.

  4. What is it with attorneys ? Do they not realize what they are doing ? Why do we continue to elect such citizens to public office ?

  5. Sounds like a frivolous lawsuit. I hope a frequent flyer attorney takes his case and counter sues for harassment.

    AND I hope the public gives them the rebuke they deserve by voting with their wallets.

    This sounds like an Onion article!

  6. Wow. Such economic illiteracy. The airline industry as a whole is a horrible business venture. The industry has produced a cumulative net loss since Kitty Hawk, which is one reason why Warren Buffett refuses to invest in it after getting burned early in his career. Nearly all of an airline’s costs are “fixed” – from unionized wages and pensions, to gate fees, to the enormous investment in the jets, which happen to be supplied by a company with a virtual monopoly, Boeing. The lead time for new planes can often be measured in decades, which adds to the complexity of trying to manage an airline company. One of the few variable costs in its cost structure is fuel, which is extremely volatile and difficult to properly hedge. Companies like airlines with enormous fixed cost structures find it hard to navigate the natural boom and bust of economic business cycles. During the booms (like now) they bank profits to offset the inevitable “busts” cycle in which they hemorrhage money. The vast majority of airline companies are unable to successfully navigate these dynamics and ultimately fail. That’s why there are literally hundreds of defunct airlines:

    Here’s the guru of competitive analysis, Michael Porter, from HBS:

  7. United Airlines and Orbitz will lose on several levels. First, the case will be tossed on the merits. Second, they will have expended a great deal of money in attorney’s fees for pitifully poor advice. Third, they will incur the wrath of travelers incensed over their ham-handed and illogical lawsuit. And finally, everyone in the world will now start skiplagging. Brilliant strategy all around.

    1. Mike A – you are right on target. We all have United and the bad advice they got from their attorneys for skiplagging. 🙂

  8. “Now, United Airlines has sued a 22-year-old blogger, Aktarer Zaman, for showing passengers how to find cheap flights on his website Orbitz has joined in the ignoble effort.”

    Can we please stop ignoring the elephant in the room? This story is just one example of many that fails to recognize the root cause. It should read as follows:

    Now, ‘ATTORNEY’S HAVE ADVISED’ United Airlines ‘TO SUE’ a 22-year-old blogger, Aktarer Zaman, for showing passengers how to find cheap flights on his website ‘ATTORNEY’S HAVE ALSO ADVISED’ Orbitz ‘TO JOIN’ in the ignoble effort.

  9. Post anything and everything that can offset monopolies, regarding: airfares, mortgages, health care insurance, hotels*, whatever.

    Some time ago my folks, in their 70s stayed at the Four Seasons in Miami en route to a cruise. They called North Florida for five minutes and a couple of local calls. When they checked out they were presented with a $60+ phone bill. Their kids had prepaid the room so they paid. I found out and phoned the hotel. The manager argued that that was the procedure for all the ‘big’ hotels in Miami. I argued that I would focus my time writing every travel magazine, newspaper, etc broadcasting this ‘highway robbery’. At the end of the conversation the manager erased the entire phone bill. Imagine phone costs of either nothing or next to nothing being charged at $60.

    It doesn’t always work but most businesses see their reputation as worth more than what they can occasionally steal from customers. There is enough vitriol out there, and in here, that if only a portion was focused on this sort of behavior, some changes would happen for the better.

  10. If United was smart, they would partner up with this kid, put ads on his site, and pay him a commission for the tickets he helps sell. Skiplagging is a well known strategy. If the airline doesn’t like it, they should change the way they price their flights. I cannot imagine United winning this lawsuit in this Goliath vs. David saga that they have created. The young man is just sharing information, not competing with the airlines. What kind of lawyer dreamed up this lawsuit? All United has done is created free advertising for the website. They need to fire their lawyers.

  11. Americans bailed out the airlines after 9/11 and Congress routinely subsidizes airlines, but try and get a cheaper and fairer fare and the American CONsumer is brought to court. Corporations are people, my friend. They just aren’t very nice people….

  12. Four airlines[United, American, Delta and Southwest] have 85% of domestic flights in the US. The airline industry is much to close to a monopoly. I’m cheering for this kid. Airlines have become one of the most hated businesses in this country. The public needs to get their minds right.

  13. Skiplagging is hardly a secret. I’ve known about it for 15 years. The only problem is that if you skip the first leg of a return trip, the airline cancels your ticket.

  14. Countersue for malicious prosecution and failure to leap tall buildings in a single fall.

  15. As of 1620 GMT, this man received $59,080 dollars out of $60,000 from 2754 people on GoFundMe for his legal defense.

    Hope he wins.

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