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United Airlines, Orbitz in legal brawl with 22-year-old travel entrepreneur

Dec 30, 2014

This story is in partnership with Entrepreneur. This post was originally published at Entrepreneur.com

By Geoff Weiss, ENTREPRENEUR

United Airlines and Orbitz have teamed up to file suit against a 22-year-old entrepreneur whose airline ticketing startup, Skiplagged, operates according to a thrifty booking ploy known as ‘hidden city’ ticketing.

This means that passengers purchase tickets for indirect flights with the intention to disembark at their layover destinations. Say you want to fly from New York to Chicago, for instance: it could be cheaper to take an indirect flight to Los Angeles and then get off at the Chicago layover.

While hidden city ticketing only works when travelers purchase one-way tickets without any checked baggage, notes CNN, this often represents the cheapest option.

Enter United Airlines and Orbitz -- both of whom are alleging “unfair competition” and demanding $75,000 in lost revenue. Hidden city ticketing is prohibited by United Airlines because of “logistical and public safety concerns,” according to the suit.

Skiplagged’s founder, a New York City computer whiz named Aktarer Zaman, told CNN that he expected a lawsuit would be inevitable despite the fact that his site hasn’t yet turned a profit.

“[Hidden city ticketing] has been around for a while,” Zaman told CNN, noting that he was merely exposing a decades-long inefficiency within the airline industry. “It just hasn't been very accessible to consumers.”

In order to fight the lawsuit, Skiplagged has thus far raised $16,718 of a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign. “As a 22-year-old with a startup being bullied by these large corporations, your support means so much to me,” Zaman wrote in a message to donors.

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