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 Skiplagged.com. 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.