Germany-based airline Lufthansa reportedly sued a passenger for missing his flight in an practice that seasoned travelers call “skiplagging.”
What is skiplagging, exactly?
The practice has gained popularity due to loopholes that make it cheaper to just skip an entire flight than fly direct to your destination. Also known as hidden-city ticketing, skiplagging is when a traveler books a flight with multiple stops with the intention of not taking the full trip and instead, just leaving at the layover point.
For example, according to Fortune, Lufthansa’s lawsuit concerns a passenger who booked a return flight from Oslo to Seattle with a stop in Frankfurt in 2016. But instead of returning to Oslo from Seattle, he skipped the connecting flight and flew from Frankfurt to Berlin on a separate reservation.
Lufthansa is suing that passenger for about $2,400. The airline claims the passenger paid $743 for his journey when, had he purchased the direct ticket, he would’ve paid over $3,000.
Though German courts dismissed the lawsuit, Fortune reported that Lufthansa plans to appeal that decision.
The practice of skiplagging is not new, and airlines have been fighting back against the shady method of ticketing for years now.
Skiplagging first gained notoriety in 2014 when United Airlines and Orbitz sued the founder of a website, aptly called Skiplagged, dedicated to helping travelers take advantage of hidden city fares.
Skiplagged’s website explains that they use an algorithm (yay, technology!) that exposes these hidden-city fares that can save a passenger up to 80% in ticket costs.
According to CNN, the two companies claimed the founder, Aktarer Zaman, was guilty of “deceptive behavior” and creating “unfair competition,” leading to lost revenue.
The case was eventually thrown out with the court claiming the case was out of its jurisdiction.
Of course, skiplagging has its drawbacks, too.
Since you’re ditching part of your flight, you can’t check baggage (or it’ll get to a city that you’re not in) and it only really works on a one-way ticket. Also, if you’re booking from A to B to C, you have to fly from A to B and not B to C, as leg B to C will fall through should you miss flight A.
As for the airlines, they claim that the ensuing delays as planes wait for passengers who never intended on being on the flight in the first place could end up raising fares for everyone — plus, they lose out on selling that empty seat on the plane for the regular direct price.
Though frowned upon by airlines, skiplagging isn’t necessarily illegal. "I'm just providing people with information and making them more informed," Zaman told CNN in 2015. "I never saw that as a bad thing, making people be more skilled travelers."
However, according to the Lufthansa lawsuit, the practice of hidden-city ticketing violates their terms and conditions. And while not every passenger who uses this method will end up in court, if you do it often on the same airline, they may end up blacklisting you — so skiplag with caution!