United Tells The Masses That They Are Overpaying For Their Tickets

83

As everyone and their mother has emailed me, posted comments, tweeted me, started countless new DDF threads, and posted to the DansDeals Facebook group more times than I can count, United and Orbitz are suing Skiplagged.com for bringing hidden city ticketing to the masses.

It was reported on DDF well over a month ago, but for whatever reason the mainstream media decided to run with the story today. Bizarre.

Hidden-city ticketing is no secret to people in the know.  Some tickets can be 90% cheaper by just adding on an extra leg to the end of the itinerary.  I think of it like not eating the dessert course of a prix-fixe, but most airlines say that its against their terms.

I first wrote about it over 8 years ago.  Some 6 years ago I wrote about using Southwest sales to get to Florida on the cheap via hidden-city and about using JetBlue to get from LA to NYC via hidden-city.

I spend a chunk of each DansDeals seminar talking about the dangers of hidden-city ticketing as well how to search for it, work around the issues, etc.

Last year I typed up a tutorial on finding hidden-city fares and on hacking ZFV fares. And USAirways had $460 tickets to Israel via hidden-city.

There are even hidden city award tickets. In this post was an international example but in my seminars I even talk about domestic ones.  Even on first class awards you can manufacture greater availability on airlines like Cathay Pacific first class via hidden city award tickets.

Virgin America had a first class hidden city fare just a couple weeks ago.

And I’ve written lots of times about hacking nonstop fares to Tel Aviv via hidden city ticketing.

Point of the matter is that we’re in the minority. Most people have no clue that they can travel the world for free in first class by opening some credit cards.

And the real irony here is that ticketing tricks like hidden-city, nested tickets, and throwaway tickets aren’t known to the masses.  At least until now that United brought it to everyone’s attention.  Ironic how when you try to sue to keep something silent it gets more exposure than it ever had before.  Nicely done United.

So is United going to sue me next?

I’d hope not. After all I’m just using free speech telling people that these methods are out there, I didn’t design a site to search for the tickets.

Personally I’ve never used Skiplagged. The solution that I wrote about simply works better. But it will be crazy if the courts shut it down.  It could only happen because United and Orbitz have deeper pockets than the 22 year old owner of Skiplagged. Hopefully a free speech champion picks up his tab.


Get more details on credit card offers and compare to other cards:
 
Click Here To Explore & Compare Credit Cards
 

Leave a Reply

83 Comments On "United Tells The Masses That They Are Overpaying For Their Tickets"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Sort by:   newest | oldest
vague

Streisand effect at work. Watch for falling debris.

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to sue United over first speech amendment rights violations. Skiplagged is promoting their rates! Whether the person decides to skip the second leg is a choice the person has.

Reb Yid

there’s actually a thread about this topic:
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=46923.0

SoCal

Well said Dan.

YB

Dan, your chassidim will never cease to support thee.

Dan

@vague:
Bingo.

@Happy Thanksgiving:
True.

@Reb Yid:
And 20 others that have been deleted from today 😀

@SoCal:
Thanks.

@YB:
Guess we’ll see once UA sues me also 😉

Danfan

So how do I book one of these? 😉

miles

I found sometime that Skiplagged found better option then ita

Jimmy

Skipp most certainly is a DDF’er. Probably with a couple
yellow stars under his name.

That’s where workarounds brew.

Sola

“The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California inadvertently drew further public attention to it. Similar attempts have been made, for example, in cease-and-desist letters to suppress numbers, files, and websites. Instead of being suppressed, the information receives extensive publicity and media extensions such as videos and spoof songs, often being widely mirrored across the Internet or distributed on file-sharing networks.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect)

Dan Fan

Dan,
Seems like an appropriate place to put this- Since attending your seminar and learning the tricks, I’ve booked probably a dozen or so hidden city tickets for myself, my family, my friends and my boss (tons of brownie points for that one), all with no issues. Thanks!

samuel

If UA takes you to court we will bail you out 🙂

Anonymous

the site skiplag.. is either down or getting to much traffic to handle..

Consumers, Skiplagged needs your help!
United Airlines and Orbitz recently filed a lawsuit that can force us to remove results only we find, getting in the way of saving you lots of money on airfare.
Please support Skiplagged by donating to our legal fund here. Thank you!
Update: Dec 30, Skiplagged is facing significantly higher than normal traffic. Please try again later if you encounter any issues–you will be amazed. Thanks

Anonymous

Dan, you have one option, to write these hacking tickets in Hebrew so they won’t bother you!

search guy

the same think with flyshortcut.com they blocked there search engine

ALKALAM

How many more secrets must we conceal to avoid these effects…

Dantheman

@dan
I have been to your seminars and don’t recall “the dangers” of hidden ticketing…I’m sure you spoke about but can you refresh my memory or point me where to read about the dangers
Thanks 🙂

as
al

Dan, i don’t know much about the website skiplagged but it looks like United is suing because this guy signed up with them to make money off them thus commiting to be bound to their rules which he violated, please explain why united is wrong

Mike B

@al source please?

yk

wsj and mint coins all over again!!!

AJK

Except I can gaurandamntee you that when UA filed this lawsuit, they were confident that the likelihood this young entrepreneur would fold like a deck of cards at the mere threat of a lawsuit, let alone actually being sued, was somewhere in excess of 100%.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Oops.

Dani Tzadok

I myself, was doing the hidden city tickets for more than 10 years. But I was always skeptical about it.
If this is really illegal or a breach of trust in trade, [as we will find out after the outcome of this lawsuit] than I’m not so comfortable to save money from “Gneivas Daas” which is prohibited from any gentile.
I know for a fact, that in certain european countries it’s illegal. (with exception to Austria where it is legal).
Of course, I can say, why do they care if I use the last leg or not.
But there is another way to view it; a company is running a sale for tickets to a certain city which they want to promote. I’m purchasing the sale (or glitch) advising the company that I’m going there, but in fact I do not plan to go there.
I was trying to justify myself, by comparing it to many similar business transactions.
But honestly thinking, it’s very difficult to compare to simple shopping in a store etc.
This is an Halachic question that can only be answered by a posek who never benefited from such hidden city tickets

Anonymous

NO-SHOW NO-NO?

Continue reading the main story

Recently I had to travel from Montreal to Chicago, one way. I saw that Montreal-Chicago flights were exorbitant. I checked alternatives and saw that Montreal-Milwaukee flights were about half the price. Upon looking more closely, I saw that the flights to Milwaukee were not direct; they involved connections. One itinerary involved going through Chicago. This created the absurd situation in which two flights cost less than the single Montreal-Chicago direct flight. Is it O.K. to book the cheaper Montreal-Chicago-Milwaukee itinerary and be a no-show for the second flight? EPHRAIM HALIVNI, JERUSALEM

Absolutely. Purchasing something doesn’t mean you’re obligated to consume it in totality. You can use whatever portion of the purchase you choose. If you buy a loaf of bread, you don’t have to eat every slice.

It’s blatantly obvious these flight prices are not based on the amount of fuel, maintenance and labor required for the respective journeys. The airlines are manipulating the prices based on demand. No one is losing money here — you are paying the full price required for a trip to Milwaukee and simply electing to suspend your travels midway there. If you really want to be a good person, inform an airline representative in Chicago that you will not be boarding the flight to Milwaukee; this way, someone trying to get to Wisconsin on standby can be pushed onto the flight.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/magazine/paying-for-a-need-for-speed.html?_r=0

This sums it up in a nice and easy read, Orbitz and United should find someone their own size to pick on!

dan fan

in the last year i booked probably close to 100 tickets on skiplagged, mostly from NYC to Montreal, paying usually about $80 a One Way. but i found it difficult to get good fares to Europe.
I really hope that UA which is a multi million $ company won’t destroy a non-profit small website, when i don’t think that they really making any serious affects to UA.

Dani Tzadok

@Anonymous: I read the story. I was also thinking about a different product other than bread.
But in any case, thinking deeply into it, we cannot compare any simple grocery purchase to the travel industry.
What would be the situation, if the seller is selling the food cheaper for a certain use, you may still buy it for the use you wanted, as long as you don’t have to disclose the planned use to the seller to his disagreement.
Here, the airlines clearly disagree (if they are allowed by law !?)
If, assuming, the bread seller sets a lower price for certain people of a certain area, or increases the price to other type of people (assuming it’s legal) May I declare that I belong in a criteria in order to benefit from the lower price?
Disregarding the airline’s ridiculous pricing system. In order to get to Chicago for the milwaukee fare, he declares that he is going, somewhere he wasn’t going to.
So it’s not so close to compare.

anon

@Dani Tzadok:

you dont make an accurate comparison. its not a fare for people of a certain region. if it was, youd be correct. theyd be allowed to choose who to discount to, say poorer neighborhoods can have lower prices at the supermarket. its a fare for a certain travel route, which everyone is eligible to travel. if you wanted to go to chi or milwaukee thats up to you, not them, you are eligible to travel to both. it is more akin to the potato chip bag.

Dani Tzadok

@anon: You may be right.
It’s really not simple to compare.
But you still feed them with wrong info (whether by phone or online) in order to achieve your lower fare, so legally they can hold you liable for that, if caught.

I know one case, a friend of mine who booked international flights for a family group of 40, going for Succot, with a continuation from NY to Canada, which dropped the fare 140.00 per ticket.
Apparently United investigated the 40 no shows on the same flight to Canada.
He did the same type of tickets for Pesach. They canceled some of these tickets (after using the first portion…) and required payment of the difference in order to reinstate.
He argued that they really want to go to Montreal, but they related the CC and email address used for these tickets and proved that in the past they did not continue. He wasn’t careful enough.

A similar issue was recently published in Jerusalem about boarding an Egged bus which was subsidized to a certain area, but then asking to the driver to drop him off in middle of the way at his destination.
It’s also not an accurate comparison, but more closely

anon

@Dani Tzadok:

I appreciate your courteous reply. I hear what you are saying.

Iz

If I may make a different point:
There is a concept of a t’nai, a condition. An airline has the right to sell at a certain price on condition that you continue to another city, or on condition that you stand on your head – it doesn’t need to make sense. If you violate the condition, you’ve stolen their goods and services. This is assuming, of course, that they in fact stipulated such a condition, which I have no idea if that is the case; I’m just presenting the argument that may be applicable.

samuel

Cant stop thinking about this. I would go to court and explain the prosecutors that this is like going in a restaurant. A slice pizza is $3 Soda can another $2 salad another $3 but i see they have a lunch special: pizza + soda + salad + bagle + potatos etc for $6. Am i doing an illegal thing by taking the lunch special and leaving the potatos???

Ron

@samuel: waht iz bagle?

Ron

@samuel: “Potatos”? Anybody remember Dan Quayle?!

J

@ron. Get the point not spelling

bl

@Dani Tzadok: לויט טייל פוסקים איז מותר גניבת דעת בעכו”ם

Iz

@bl: Halacha mefureshes that it’s assur. Please explain your intent. Yiddish is ok, but hard to decipher your intent. What is the second word in your post?

Ron

@J: 😉

monseyboy

Anyone knows where I can download the full lawsuit filed? Thanks

bl

@Iz: a “few” poiskim. I have recently asked a rov about gneivas daas akum and the rhe answer was that’s 2 deias in shilchon uruch. I will iy”h ask him again tomorrow expect with the marah mukom.
If you don’t understand this language I will repeated in Yiddish.

@comments

Maybe we should tell united to Just stick to breaking taylor guitars…

bl

Regarding my previous post about gneivas daas, im now looking in shilchon uruch by my self and it’s look like it’s definitely usur. So I will have to ask again my rov what he means, so folks please don’t take the hater I posted so easy,

and to DAN if possible please remove my Yiddish comment thanks.

Gabbai

Skiplagged.com may be good for US fares but it is woeful for European and Israeli fares. It does not pull from a wide enough range of airlines. For example the cheapest single ticket from TLV-LON on 2/12 on Skiplagged is an 18 hour overnight stop via Athens for $183. Hipmunk shows a 5 hour direct late evening flight for $92. TLV-CPH on the same date has Skiplagged coming in at $228 for a 26 hour journey via Belgrade with an overnight stop. Hipmunk gives me a 7hr 20min trip via Istanbul for $202. Skiplagged is also not good at putting combinations together. For example TLV-MAN on 2/12 comes in at $467. TLV-WAW and WAW-MAN on two tickets [with plenty of time to connect] comes in at $349 and is shorter. I have nothing against Skiplagged; just use it for what it is intended for but be careful of its other prices.

Frisky Fred

I think everyone is missing the point. There no “free speech” argument here. United is not and will not sue anyone for telling people anything. Instead, it’s a tens of service breech on their API. Where is skip lagged getting their data from? Obviously from United. Well, United owns that data, and can dictate how they want it to be consumed our displayed etc.

high end hobo

“Even on first class awards you can manufacture greater availability on airlines like Cathay Pacific first class via hidden city award tickets.”

elaboration please? which routes specifically? how can i search for it, on the BA site?

Achshell

Airlines charge more for comfort! A 30 hour stop over will get you a very cheap fare. I was once waiting in Heathrow airport and watched 4 flights leave to NYC before I was able to take my flight to NYC, total of 4 hour stop over. Same with AM-TRACK. I would like to travel in a car to PHL or ZFV before the train gets there 2 hours after me and ask them if their inconvenient stop over makes any sense. The airlines only care about how convenient it is for you to get to the destination. They do not care about “promoting cities”.
Bottom line: If they do not to make it convenient for me, I will do it for myself.

samuel

@ron
What is waht?

Meat Shlepper

@Frisky Fred:

+1. I didn’t read the suit so this is all haaking a chainik conjecture, but that point seems to be valid legally. If you are using and directly pulling from someone’s (United’s) data feed I would think you are bound by the data feed owner’s terms of how you use, manipulate, and display that data stream.

As far as those who actually book flights and skip the last leg, seems silly and too dicey to get into the brain and intent of every single traveler when they book their ticket. Doesn’t seem like something that would be reasonable to regulate at any level, and certainly seems silly to me that the airlines even try by putting it in their terms.

Dan

I haven’t read the suit either, but I didn’t see it reported that it was about data.

That data can be had from Google’s ITA, exactly how I find the fares.

Dani Tzadok

@samuel: As I mentioned in my comment, buying a package without any condition, is different than buying cheaper by declaring something wrong, where the product wouldn’t be given to you at this price if you would disclose the correct information.
Thinking about my business, Selling retail and wholesale, I lower the price for wholesale clients in order for them to add a reasonable markup.
A retail client decided to take advantage and presented himself as a wholesale client buying bulk to stock up. I cannot say I had actual loss, but he reduced my profits unfairly.
in another case, a wholesale client stopped his steady orders. At the same time, a big supermarket (which used to get a lower wholesale rate) increased his orders. I later found out that the first client who cancelled his orders, simply went to the supermarket to order for him as well in order to benefit from the lower rate.
This is not a direct loss but still [legal] cheating..
Not everything that works is considered honest.

samuel

@Dani Tzadok

+1 I totally agree with you that it took away of your profit and it is not a nice thing to do business-wise, especially if you are “Heimish”, but that doesn’t explain why skiplagged is being sued. Who did here an unfair thing, UA with raising the prices because “people will anyways pay that price” or the agent who sold tickets with an extra leg? Will UA “loose money because he didn’t take the last leg or potentially make money?

Someone buys something, doesn’t take/eat/use the entire thing and he or the agent is unfair? being sued? aren’t we living in a free country where you may do whatever you want with a thing you buy?

Ron

@samuel: Exactly! (You didn’t pick up on “iz”?)

Ron

@bl: Understood. Glad we agree.

Dani Tzadok

@samuel: Don’t get me wrong. I’m not justifying the lawsuit, although I would be interested to see the final ruling whether such action is legal or not.
I was just expressing my concerns about my own tickets with hidden city or further points.
We get used to do tricks in business, and buy any ideas offered by anyone. We forget what is a Kosher trick and what is dishonest.
Just do this and say this… (never bothered about sheker) you will get it cheaper.
First we use the tricks against multi million companies (which really doesn’t make a difference to honest person). Then we found such tricks being used against ourselves by our own brothers.
As one who benefitted from hidden cities I couldn’t bring myself to check out the Halacha view. Maybe someone else will do it.

jerry

“Southwest allows hidden-city ticketing, and you should even be able to check your luggage through to the hidden-city.”
Thats what you wrote 6 years ago.
Any part of this still true?

Achshell

If airlines want, they could use the system that is used on inter-city trains in some countries. You have to keep your ticket in order to leave the station. If you are trying to leave at the wrong station, the gate wouldn’t open for you.

samuel

@Ran
I’m still waiting for question what is “loose”? 😉

samuel

@Dani Tzadok
I acknowledge. Agree!

Ron

@samuel: Hey, I controlled myself! 😉
I have a better question: Who is “Ran”?

yony

The only option the airlines have is charging a big fee for not missing a flight. Although I don’t know how they would go about charging the flyer…

yuneeq

I know you’ve never used skiplagged, but I have for 6 months and found it to display equal or lower prices than ITA every single time. It’s usually lower even when not displaying hidden city fares.

It’s a great site, and all those thinking that it’s all about screwing the airlines with hidden city tickets are wrong.

Anonymous

@Dan: Dan, Dont you think you should read the suit before you write an article about it? it clearly says they violated the user rights they signed with United airlines

Dan

@Anonymous:
Link please?

I don’t understand what they possibly would have signed with United or for what purpose.

Dan

@Anonymous:
That article says nothing about any agreement with United.

Shloimy

Actually, it seems like that Skiplagged is gaining a lot of extra visitors from it. On the header of his website he claims that the site can go a bit slow as webtraffic is crazy.

Defrauding the airlines huh?

This is textbook fraud. You are entering into a contract between AAA-CCC. If you get off in BBB you are in breach of the contract whether you believe it or not.

There’s a difference between a “deal” and a “scam.” If someone came to your seminar, wrote down all the information, then distributed for cheaper than your seminars, how would you feel about that?

ji

I am a travel agent and use skiplagged sometimes,it is a great service and it is disgusting that they are suing them. I do however find better dead legs than skiplagged many times, their system is not perfect. However it is clearly a case of someone with way deeper pockets than the other who has the upper hand

Dan

@Defrauding the airlines huh?:

Considering I donate every cent of seminar admissions to the charity that organizes each event and that I don’t even deduct my expenses, I think I’d survive, thanks.

If the restaurant wants to bill you double if you don’t finish the dessert of a prix-fixe is that a fraud that would be enforceable in any court of law?

Defrauding the airlines huh?

@Dan,

That’s not the same at all. You are entering into a contract. The prix fixe analogy is a logical fallacy. The crux of this is that you are saying that you want to fly AAA-CCC, but you have no intent to go to CCC, you are going to BBB and just using CCC to lower the price.

It’s fraud. You’re doing mental gymnastics with analogies to make yourself feel better, but it’s fraud, plain and simple.

Plus, the irony of this whole situation is that by doing this hidden city ticketing, you’re taking inventory away on the BBB-CCC leg, even though you won’t be flying it. Ultimately someone else is having to pay a higher fare because of your deceptiveness. Not to mention that this then leads to the airline more frequently overbooking that particular route, causing other people problems.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, and hidden city ticketing actually does have negative downline effects for other passengers, not just the airline.

BBM

I just booked one way from FL to NY with hidden city and got it for 95/seat! Thanks dan ITA worked like a charm!

@Defrauding airlines: i dont really get what your saying… if i pay for something and do not use it how is that FRAUD?? i can understand the airlines dont appreciate it… but thats a long way from fraud…

not a gymnast at all btw

Defrauding the airlines huh?

BBM – Because you are purchasing an itinerary which you do not intend to fly. The contract between you and the airline (e.g. your ticket) says they will get you from AAA-CCC, and you’re misrepresenting that you are in fact going to CCC when you have no intention at all of going there.

From a law blog:

Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

1) The false statement is saying you’re going from AAA-CCC
2) You know you are going to BBB
3) You are deceiving the airline to save money
4) The airline anticipates you will fulfill the itinerary and adjusts their pricing accordingly.
5) The airline loses the difference in fare between whatever AAA-CCC costs and whatever AAA-BBB costs.

@BBM

Cool! What is the routing?

JoeCha

” But it will be crazy if the courts shut it down”

This has nothing to do with free speech.
This man is using the airlines’ internal IT infrastructure to produce something that is against the T&C if the airlines.

It’s no different than stealing. The airlines have a a reason why certain city pairs are cheaper than others, pricing it’s based market competition.

Anonymous

Ric, virginia

Anonymous

I’m purchasing the right to go to ccc… I’m not paying x dollars to oobligate myself to go anywhere…. What year law school you in?

Dan

@Defrauding the airlines huh?:
Funny, because my tickets say that I’m going from AAA-BBB-CCC not AAA-CCC.

@JoeCha:
Meshigas.
He did nothing with United’s IT and he had no agreements with United at all.

This is probably United wanting to debit memo Orbitz so Orbitz agreed to join United to go after him in order to waive the debit memo. Or something along those lines, as this is just bizarre.

Anonymous

@Dan: I heard that airlines can technically take you straight to ccc w/o going to bbb any legitimacy to that?

Al

@Dan: Dan, when you sign up with various companies and make money off us using your links that you provide, do you have to sign an agreement with the company to comply with their rules? That is what United is saying is wrong here. If you do not sign anything with United then United is dead wrong, if you do then you are stealing. Plain and simple

Dani Tzadok

@Dan: As funny as it sounds. But if the restaurant sells you the product on that condition, and you agree to it, it is indeed enforceable.
Unless the condition is Frivolous.
I wouldn’t think it’s fraud, but improper business practice.
Breaking the condition of the deal, reverses the transaction when possible.
There is also a difference if you intended to go go to CCC and for some reason decided to stay in BBB. than if you deliberately state you need CCC just to bring down the fare, when you don’t need it. That sounds morally improper.

Anonymous

@Al: Dan, Any response to this?

Dan

@Anonymous:
Not if you don’t want to.

@Al:
United does not have an affiliate program. This kid has nothing signed with United as far as I know.

Donor

Along I40 in TX there’s a place that gives you a free 72 oz steak–if you eat it ALL. Thats a contractual condition. You cannot eat done and toss the rest and get it free.

Tom

“Even on first class awards you can manufacture greater availability on airlines like Cathay Pacific first class via hidden city award tickets.”

Would love to know more about how to do this as I’m looking to book something now and struggling

wpDiscuz