A 22-Year-Old Guy Found A Very Clever Cheap Flight Hack And Now He's Being Sued

    The founder of Skiplagged says he's not doing anything illegal.

    This is the homepage for Skiplagged.

    It's a flight-booking site that was founded in 2013 by a 22-year-old called Aktarer Zaman.

    It uses a trick it calls "hidden city ticketing". As The Telegraph explained:

    The idea is that travellers wanting to fly from Dallas to Los Angeles, for example, are instructed to book a flight to an alternative destination, say San Francisco, with a stopover in Los Angeles. They then don't bother to take the last leg of their journey.

    This isn't always the cheapest way to buy tickets, but it often works.

    As a result, both United Airlines and Orbitz are suing Zaman for $75,000.

    They claim it's creating "unfair competition".

    Fox 31 Denver reported that the website is a "side project" for Zaman, who "grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science at age 20 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute". He claims not to have made any money from the project.

    Zaman told the network that a lawsuit was "inevitable", but he says there's nothing illegal about his website: "[Hidden city ticketing has] been around for a while, it just hasn't been very accessible to consumers."

    A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $15,000 for his legal fees.

    In this Reddit thread, Zaman discussed how he found the hack "by accident", and at one point he questioned if the companies suing him were really losing money. He wrote:

    Them losing money is not clear.
    1. Consumers are paying for seats they don't take which allows the airlines to collect more standby fees

    2. How likely is it that a consumer would pay for something if it turns out to be significantly more expensive?

    Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

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