A Chicago judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by United Airlines against a 22-year-old whose website helps people find cheap plane tickets.
Aktarer Zaman, from New York City, founded Skiplagged.com a year ago. The website uses a technique known as “hidden city” ticketing, which helps people buy cheap flight tickets.
A lawsuit, filed by United Airlines and Orbitz Travel in November, had accused Zaman that his strategy creates “unfair competition” and the plaintiffs were asking for $75,000 in damages. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman founded website Skiplagged.com which helps people find cheap plane tickets.
Chicago Judge John Robert Blakey of the Northern District Court of Illinois has now ruled that his court didn’t have jurisdiction over the case, because Zaman neither lives nor does business in that city.
CNN Money reports that Zaman called the ruling “definitely a victory”, before adding:
It is pretty amazing… The court just shut them off.
Zaman and Orbitz had already settled their portion of the lawsuit in February, however United kept pressed on with the lawsuit. Christen David, a spokeswoman for the airline said on Friday that “the decision was a ruling on procedural grounds and not on the merits of the case”. She added:
We remain troubled that Mr. Zaman continues to openly encourage customers to violate our contract of carriage by purchasing hidden-city tickets.
2. Aktarer Zaman’s Skiplagged.com website uses a technique described as “hidden city” ticketing (photo: screen grab via CBS).
Skiplagged.com uses a method which enables customers to get lower airfares by booking their final destination as a stop-over.
For example, if you wanted to fly from Boston to Denver, you would instead book a ticket to, say, San Diego, and choose Denver as the stopover. Then you would simply get off the plane in Denver and not make the connection to San Diego. It turns out that buying tickets in this way saves money for many destinations.
This strategy can only be implemented if you book a one-way ticket with no bags to check and it does not work for every single trip, but does work for most.
Zaman left his job at a computer software company in New York in December to commit all his time to Skiplagged.
3. United Airlines and Orbitz Travel claimed that the strategy created “unfair competition” and were asking for $75,000 in damages.
As he makes no money from the website at present, Zaman raised $79,000 on crowdfunding site GoFundMe to help pay for legal fees.
Zaman currently supports himself through savings and loans, however he might turn to investors once the lawsuit is fully resolved.
Despite his win in Chicago, the entrepreneur anticipates United to file another lawsuit somewhere else. he said:
The cynic in me says this is an uphill battle. I’m not going to let my guard down.
4. Airline fare trick: Passengers use Skiplagged to fly for less — a CBS report.
5. Skiplagged: a 22-year-old start-up whizzkid offers “hidden city” cheap flights — an RT report.
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