The Drawbacks Behind Skiplagged Flights

I love the airfare deals. I am currently an active United Airlines Frequent Flyer Member. I always book flights other than the Skiplagged websites as my protection to both airlines and customers as well as litigation. There are more disadvantages when you are booking flights using the services, and this blog will explain it’s not worth the risks. Here is the story of a woman (MileagePlus member) who book flights through Skiplagged by using her frequent flyer number.

During the solo travel seminar with Valerie Joy Wilson, she would recommend Skiplagged to save her money. She claimed skiplagged would help her to book an airline ticket for just a fraction of the price. She had told us she flew 7-8 flights per week, depending on her schedule. She is an AAdvantage member (American Airlines) and had once asked her to renounced her Frequent Flyer status until she paid the fare difference for missed any flights she did not take. Mistakes learned. She warned us about putting frequent flyer numbers onto Skiplagged flight itineraries.

My experience: I have not heard the website Skiplagged. What is the purpose of the site? Is it a legitimate way to book a flight? Well, let’s read on to find out.

It is very risky to book a flight from the Skiplagged website, especially travelers who are frequently travel for either business or leisure. Again, there are disadvantages over advantages of Skylaggged.

Let’s find out the story about a Frequent Flyer member who has revoked one’s Frequent Flyer Program and the airlines’ account suspension after one internationally missed the final flight to the actual destination.

A story about Zoey Han finds out her frequent flyer status got suspended, ruining the Californian trip and the return flight after she intentionally missed her final leg of the flight to save chunks of money.

A MileagePlus member named Zoey Han, who lives in Philadelphia, only travels on a budget. She wants to travel to San Francisco with her limited budget. She budgeted only $350 for airfare and planned to take on her tours in San Francisco and Los Angeles for a week. She yearned to search her cheapest flight by going on the website http://www.skiplagged.com, compared to www.kayak.com, with the difference in airfare. She compared the two sites: Skiplagged and Kayak.

Here I checked the two airfare search engines: Skiplagged and Kayak to compare the price, lowest to average.

The “Skiplagged rate” from Philadelphia to San Francisco (via United) is about $225 and gets off at San Francisco instead of Los Angeles.
Turns out from Kayak, the airfare to San Francisco (via United) is about $340 to $343, $115 to $118 more.

What’s more is I checked on www.united.com and turns out it was about $308 for the same date, August 13. It was 83 dollars difference from Skiplagged but less than $340 mark-up price from other competitors (Kayak). I should choose this itinerary.

She vowed, “Since it’s very cheap, let’s chose this itinerary.”

She clicked on the flight itinerary (details) and began to make her purchase. Therefore, she purchases an airline ticket (one-way) with a layover in San Francisco (which is her actual destination). She planned not to take her final flight to Los Angeles. She claimed she gets her better deal by paying her return flight by using her original flight itinerary: Los Angeles with a layover in Houston, and her final destination was Philadelphia.

Surprisingly, she paid $225 for airfare and proceeded her debit card for payment. Yep, she felt happy to find a “good” deal.

Is it really a “good” deal? Not really!

“Whew! Airfare isn’t bad to find my flight,” she said by putting into her Frequent Flyer number and flight confirmation (6 characters) into her Untied Airlines Account.

Her Frequent Flyer is XX123456* and put on www.united.com.

*Frequent flyer number had been omitted for privacy reasons.

“I am all done,” She exclaimed in agitation.

Why was Skiplagged established?

The price of an airline ticket increased while people have minimal money to afford: rent, food, groceries, utilities, taxes, child care costs, other essential needs. People complained that they don’t have enough money to afford a vacation they want.

Founder Aktarer Zaman, was a freelance computer programmer, had an idea to help people to find cheap airfare. In 2014, he founded an innovative business name, “Skiplagged,” which people can book flights with a Skiplagged, which it’s a steep-cheap airfare with “Point beyond ticketing.” People began to find cheap for less. Unfortunately, those who purchased an airline from Skiplagged have a disastrous vacation from banning an airline, canceling any upcoming flights, forcing spend unnecessary costs from the savings, which includes forcing to pay the lump-sum airfare differences. I will discuss the effect of using the Skiplagged website to book a trip and what the consequences are.

Fact: Shortly after he found Skiplagged, both United and Orbiz sued the founder for promoting travelers to book on unsuspecting flight itinerary. That lawsuit had to make Zaman forced to pay the difference of $75,000 in lost revenue after he intentionally broke the airline’s contract of carriage (Gillespie, 2015).

What does it mean, “Skiplagged?”

“Skiplagged” is a past tense of “skiplag.”

A skiplag is a ticketing behavior in which a traveler gets off the destination rather than the actual layover, missing one or more flights stated on the exact flight itinerary. It is known as the “point beyond ticketing” and is a tactic practice of a traveler attempt to book a flight steep-cheap price to save money.

Here are the two visuals.

Example: Flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco comparison on two websites (illustration):

  • Red: Skiplagged websites
  • Green: Legitimate airfare search engines or airlines’ websites
An Example of a Hidden City Flight Itinerary, known as Skiplagged.
Zoey took her Hidden City Flight to San Francisco but got off there instead of Los Angeles. Most Airlines are not allowing them to practice Skiplagged through the system. It is not useful anymore.

The Backfire

There are disadvantages when you are using the Skiplagged website to booking flights.

The first disadvantage is the loss of airline revenue. For instance, if 20 people are booking their flights on Skiplagged, there are higher risks of missing airline revenues in terms of passenger seat demand, not necessary revenue. Technically, most airlines priced based on travelers’ demand, so there is a vast difference in terms of how compared between major airlines and Southwest. Southwest, on the other hand, earn both revenues based on demand and price. If passengers don’t show up for flights other than that, airlines will lose not only the money but to sell any empty seats and later. In most cases, airlines forced to cancel their entire flights and require passengers to pay the huge difference to make up for the airline’s lost revenue, which is the typical mark-up (Helmore, 2019).

In summary, most airlines work hard to earn revenue and reputation, based on traveler’s demand. Usually, they typically earned the revenue by flying the planes when the planes are full, not on empty or partially full. These concepts explain the situations. Overall, the airlines are very upset, sorrowful that passengers are forced the cost-difference airfare between Skiplagged and mark-up price of an airline ticket from legitimate websites (www.kayak.com, http://www.aa.com, or other popular flight search engines).

Most of the time, airlines have raised their airfare to mark up the price of the demand because airlines can’t sell the seats to other passengers for money. Remember that the airline can only price based on demand, not on price except Southwest (Valle, 2019).

Second is the travelers’ loss of money. The lawyers and airlines have contacted any travelers who attempt to miss their flights intentionally had received with a lump-sum bill and a regrettable statement. They usually forced travelers to pay the difference (a fine) for missing any legs of the flights, typically hefty penalties immediately. These extortionate costs make travelers loss of savings in the long run. Why?

The airlines have canceled any succeeding flights…

…and travelers have forced to pay an exorbitant airfare home (last-minute airfare).

A case of a hapless male passenger who returned home was forced to markup about 2,400 USD payable to the airline for attempting to miss his final leg of the flight (Frankfurt to Oslo on Lufthansa). The payment of the legal fee was due immediately (Helmore, 2019).

The third disadvantage is the lawsuits. A passenger who attempts to book on skiplagged flights to save money ended up with a trip negated. Rather than showing up for his last leg of the flight, he got off at the layover airport. Then the lawsuit came action to list the passenger who ploy the system, and then, the airline immediately sues the traveler for missing a final leg of the flight. To elaborate, anyone who attempts to miss out the flights without rebooking or bumping another flight to the actual destination will immediately remove his or her flight itinerary, banish traveler from future flights until lawsuits have solved. The court order usually sues the traveler who ploys the airline’s system, often the airline’s contract of carriage.

In 2015, both United and Orbitz immediately sued the founder, who helped travelers to break the airline’s contract of carriage by cheating the airline’s system (Gillespie, 2015). He has been fighting both the airlines and major search engine companies to get the money and commitment back but to no avail. Major airlines have followed the Skiplagged lawsuits too.

Fourth is a traveler’s disruptive trip plan. That is Zoey had done to her Californian trip; she finally missed her final flight to Los Angeles. Suddenly after she checked out her succeeding flight home, she founded out the flight itinerary was no longer exist. Her mileage had not accrued into her MileagePlus account. In sum, Zoey’s trip plan was a disaster and wondered if she ever comes home after she forced to buy a last-minute one-way ticket home at her own expense (see the 2nd disadvantages above).

Pretty stressful, right? Yes. Skiplagged is not worth the risk and cost.

Then the gate agent forced to wait for any passengers who intentionally missed the flights without actually rebooking alternative flights to actual destinations. The passengers who later forced to wait for a long time to reach the actual departure, making both airlines and passengers gravely upset. Without in doubt, the flight may be delayed or canceled, ruining other traveler’s plans after an airline gate agent tried to reach someone who left the “layover” airport. Finally, a check-in agent has told a traveler that “Your flight to Philadelphia have rerouted to Boston.”

And your airline will not be sympathetic if you try to rebook a hidden-city ticket.

Lieberman, 2017

The fifth is the loss of airline’s privileges. If you book an airline ticket through a travel search engine, you are abiding with the contract of carriage. If you don’t, you will lose the airline’s privilege, including frequent flyer programs and banning you from the airline. Most likely, you are not eligible for any mileage or point accrual. Travel + Leisure freelance writer Lieberman pointed out, “When travelers violate that contract (all the fine print you gloss over when you purchase a ticket), the airline doesn’t owe you anything. In addition to revoking elite status and invalidating frequent flyer miles, an airline has every right to refuse you service, bump you from future flights — whatever revenge they see fit” (Lieberman, 2017).

Prevention

It’s not challenging to skim on a Skiplagged website that sells skiplagged flights by researching how to look for a good deal on flights.

You go to legitimate websites that sell just similar deals (these websites don’t sell skiplagged flights).

If it is too hard to steer clear search on skiplagged flights, go on other websites that don’t sell skiplagged flights. Also, take advantage of error airfares.

Conclusion 

While skiplagged seems too good to be true, I recommended that you should not consider the risk of booking skiplagged flights. They have wretched and unfortunate, callous events that happened almost every traveler (e.g., Zoey) who book on skiplagged flights.

With a Skiplagged website, I highly not recommend this website. It’s hard to look away with the “dirt-cheap flight deal” compared to the legitimate sites that sell good deals online. They only sell a fraction of the price of airfare to save money. They want to book this flight simply because of the lowest price. Because of the actively looking deals to save money (by booking flights impulsively), the verb is:

Temptation

Temptation is an act of impulse to buy or doing one to feels good or to achieve oneself. It is too easy to pick these flights that lower than these competitors who sell at a higher price.

In sum, budget travelers should actively look at and compare to legitimate websites for an airline ticket to get the best deals to fit their budget without any unfortunate trip plans. That means travelers should stay away from sites that sell Skiplagged Flights.

Remember, if the flight deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

References

Gillespie, P. (2015, May 1). Judge throws out United Airlines lawsuit against 22-year-old. Money CNN. Retrieed from https://money.cnn.com/2015/05/01/investing/united-airlines-lawsuit-skiplagged/index.html

Gillespie, P. (2015, December 31). How a 23-year-old beat United Airlines. Money CNN. Retrieved from https://money.cnn.com/2015/12/31/investing/aktarer-zaman-how-i-beat-united-airlines/index.html

Helmore, E. (2019, February 17). Hidden city” travel: Why airlines are cracking down on a discount trick. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/16/hidden-city-travel-discount-loophole-airlines-crack-down-lawsuit-skiplagged

Lieberman, M. (2017, August 11). Why Hidden City Ticketing Really Is Too Good to Be True (Video). Travel + Leisure. Retrieved from https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/hidden-city-ticketing-consequences

Valle, G D. (2019, February 13). An airline is suing a customer who skipped a leg of his flight to save money. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/2/13/18223833/lufthansa-sues-passenger-hidden-city-ticketing

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