Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Skiplagged Saves Money on Air Travel

This year the airline industry is making record profits with some of the credit going to lower fuel prices and charging fees for almost everything, including luggage and inflight beverages like water and coffee. So it wasn't surprising to learn that United Airlines and Orbitz, one of the world's biggest online travel agencies, are suing an entrepreneur for developing a web system that helps flyers save money by taking advantage of a loophole in the pricing of flights with layovers.

Skiplagged.com lets users find cheaper flight tickets. The website combs ticket prices and finds routes with layovers that stop in certain cities that end up being cheaper than simply flying directly to that city. For example, if a traveler wants to fly from New York City to Atlanta, a direct flight would cost a certain amount of money. However, because the way airlines price their tickets, a flight from New York to Miami that includes a layover in Atlanta might cost less than the shorter New York to Atlanta trip. Using Skiplagged, a flyer could book the cheaper flight to Miami knowing it passes through Atlanta, and then simply get off the plane and not complete the last leg. 

Last September, Skiplagged could have saved a traveller going from Toronto to Los Angeles almost 50 percent if the traveller had bought a ticket to another destination that involved L.A. as a layover. Of course, Skiplagged only works if you're travelling without any checked bags (because luggage would end up in your final destination). Also, you must be booking one-way ticket since if you fail to show up for a leg of the trip, the airline will cancel your return flight.

United and Orbitz are alleging that Skiplagged "intentionally and maliciously interferes" with their business and so they are seeking a legal end to Skiplagged. (What happened to free enterprise?)

In my opinion, United and Orbitz have a dubious legal claim, but that's inconsequential since they have millions to mount a legal challenge against the fledgling Skiplagged. United and Orbitz can simply outspend Skiplagged and force them into bankruptcy. Goliath beats David. End of story. 

BTW:
You can help save Skiplagged by donating to their legal defense fund

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