American Airlines is suing a travel site for cracking down on consumers who use this trick to save money

American Airlines is trying to crack down on travel hacking

DALLAS — American Airlines is suing a travel website that sells tickets that allow people to save money by exploiting an airline fare quirk.

A US company sued Skiplagged in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, this week, accusing the site of deception. She threatened to cancel every ticket Skiplagged sold.

Last month, an American threw a 17-year-old off a flight and banned him for three years when he tried to use this tactic to fly from Gainesville, Florida, to Charlotte, North Carolina, on a ticket that listed New York City as his. destination. For a teen, that was cheaper than booking a direct flight to Charlotte.

In the lawsuit, the American accused Skiplagged of deceiving consumers into believing they could take advantage of “some kind of secret loophole.” An American said the site pretends to be a regular consumer to buy tickets, and warns its customers not to inform the airline about an arrangement.

American said Skiplagged was never authorized to resell the airline’s tickets.

“Skiplagged’s behavior is deceptive and abusive,” the airline said in the suit. “Skiplagged deceives the public into believing that, even though it has no authority to form and issue a contract on behalf of Americans, somehow it can still issue a perfectly valid ticket. It can’t. Every ‘ticket’ issued by Skiplagged is at risk of invalidation.”

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There was no immediate response to a request for comment left with Skiplagged.

Skipping is possible because of the way airlines compete on price.

Longer flights usually cost more than shorter ones, but the opposite may be true if several airlines compete on the longer route while only one or two fly the shorter route.

Travelers who use this tactic avoid checking the bag, because it will end up at the destination it was booked for, rather than at the layover airport. They often book one-way tickets, or just try this strategy on the return trip—if the airline notices someone is skipped, they may cancel the rest of their itinerary.

Skiplagged, which is based in New York, has been sued before.

Aktar Zaman, who was in his early 20s when Skiplagged began around 2014, has been accused by United Airlines and online travel agency Orbitz of promoting “prohibited forms of travel.” Zaman set up a GoFundMe to pay for his legal costs. He settled with Orbitz, and the United lawsuit was dismissed.

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