Saturday, 3 January 2015

Going into court with dirty hands? Airline and online travel site sue

by Todd Romaine

Ever heard of before? If not, you should definitely check it out. It promises the lowest online airline fares through the use of some creative programming that allows travellers to fly to their desired particular destination at a discounted rate by pretending to fly somewhere else when they book. It does seem odd but routine that flying a shorter distance is many times more expensive than flights at a further distance. The most expensive flight options are direct flights, followed then by flights that stop in numerous locations (milk run) before your final destination. And in many circumstances you need to burn up more airline fuel flying all over the place to get that cheaper ticket.

This is where comes into play... it searches for the cheapest milk run options and then you need to attempt to get off the plane in your desired location rather than carrying on to your ticketed destination. This requires you to travel with carry-on luggage only and quickly de-board and vanish into thin air. An example would be that you need to fly from Seattle to Minneapolis but find it cheaper to fly from Seattle-Minneapolis-Houston and therefore book the latter option. You show up at the airport and collect your boarding passes to Houston, cognizant you have no plans to go there.

Orbitz and United Airlines are now suing because the website's circumvention around the system makes it seem unethical and could result in continued airline delays for missing passengers and empty seats. Yet arguably the system that charges people more money for going shorter distances seem unethical in itself.

A crowdsurfing site has already raised 50K to help fight off the lawsuit and to continue its business to provide travellers with cheaper flight options. Seasoned online travellers have already worked the system for years but has now raised notoriety for the practice and hence why a legal battle is now brewing.

If anything comes from this, perhaps airlines need to recalibrate how they tabulate traveler fares so that individual users pay the true cost for traveling and not zig zagging around the world to reduce costs for a direct flight.

Tip: follow @Skiplagged on Twitter - and @SkiplaggedDeals for the best hidden city deals

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