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

December 31, 2014, 12:27 AM UTC
Tegel Airport To Close In 2012
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 03: An airplane takes off from Berlin Tegel "Otto Lilienthal" Airport on September 3, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The airport, which was opened in 1934 and is the fourth busiest in Germany, is scheduled to close in mid-2012 when it and Schoenefeld airport are consolidated to become Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Photograph by Adam Berry—Getty Images

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


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.