Daily Talker: Unfair Airfare?

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Airline, travel site sue over ‘hacked’ airfares.

New York – United Airlines and online travel website Orbitz have filed suit against a young computer programmer who used a clever trick to get discounted airfares. The lawsuit filed last month in Illinois federal court alleges that Aktarer Zaman, who operates the website Skiplagged.com, illegally promoted use of the technique to get discounts.

Skiplagged, launched last year by the recent university graduate, enabled travelers to get a fare below the published rate by skipping the final leg of a flight. The idea of hidden city ticketing is to buy a one-way airline ticket that has a layover at your actual destination and then ditching the last leg of the trip. Say you want to fly from New York to Chicago, for instance: it could be cheaper to take an indirect flight to Los Angeles and then get off at the Chicago layover.

Zaman, who according to media reports is 22, posted a notice on his website that the lawsuit could “force us to remove results only we find, getting in the way of saving you lots of money on airfare.” “I launched Skiplagged.com last year with the goal of helping consumers become savvy travelers,” he wrote on the online forum Reddit, adding that the method “has potential to easily save consumers up to 80 percent when compared with the cheapest on Kayak, for example. United said in a statement, “This practice violates our fare rules and we are taking action to stop it to help protect the vast majority of customers who buy legitimate tickets.” Orbitz says it is obligated to uphold airline fare rules. Finding these has always been difficult before Skiplagged because you’d have to guess the final destination when searching on any other site.” According to his LinkedIn page, Zaman graduated last year from Rensselaer Institute of Technology and has worked as a software engineer for Amazon and Cisco. – Agence France-Presse Michael Boyd, president of the aviation consulting firm Boyd Group International, agreed, saying he was trained 30 years ago by American Airlines to actually help customers find hidden city fares. Skiplagged’s founder, a New York City computer whiz named Aktarer Zaman, told CNN that he expected a lawsuit would be inevitable despite the fact that his site hasn’t yet turned a profit. “[Hidden city ticketing] has been around for a while,” Zaman told CNN, noting that he was merely exposing a decades-long inefficiency within the airline industry. “It just hasn’t been very accessible to consumers.” In order to fight the lawsuit, Skiplagged has thus far raised $16,718 of a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign. “As a 22-year-old with a startup being bullied by these large corporations, your support means so much to me,” Zaman wrote in a message to donors.

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