United Airlines is closing in on skiplagging customers, No Mas Coach reports. The practice lets passengers book cheap connecting flights only to see travelers intentionally disembark at their layover airport. United has been especially active in pursuing those who indulge in the dubious practice.
“Lets say that you want to fly to Seattle from Minneapolis. You can fly that route on either Alaska or Delta as they service it non stop. Because it is a non stop flight (and non stop is in demand) you’ll see, perhaps, a slightly higher price. Seattle to Dallas, on the other hand, is not serviced by Delta directly. It is, however, served by both Alaska and American, and in order for Delta to be competitive on that route, they’re going to have to route you probably through Minneapolis,” explains the outlet’s Jon Nickel-D’Andrea.
“No one in their right mind would proactively fly to Minneapolis before heading to Texas, so they’re going to heavily discount that flight in order to garner your business. Since you really only want to get to Minneapolis and not to Dallas, you just get off the plane in Minneapolis (since you’re connecting through) and you’re on your way,” Nickel-D’Andrea.
Though not technically illegal, it appears that skiplagging is causing carriers some trouble. In fact, it appears that United Airlines is now actively pursuing those who engage in the practice.
In fact, as Nickel-D’Andrea explains, United sent a letter to his friend’s husband, outlining time, date and cost of each offence.
The letter, excerpts of which can be viewed here, adds that skiplagging, “constitutes fraud and a violation of Rule 6 of United’s Contract of Carriage. Accordingly, United demands … that you reimburse United in the amount of $3,236.76 which represents the difference between the cost of the tickets that you purchased and the cost of the travel taken…”.
While skiplagging is certainly questionable, Inc.com‘s Chris Matyszczyk queried United’s motives in sending the letter, saying, “All that skiplagging customers do is take advantage of a loophole in the airline’s own systems … Sometimes, you have to accept that some customers are clever, or even a touch slippery, and deal with it in an intelligent way.”