American Airlines has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit against Skiplagged.com, a website that offers flights using the “skiplagging” technique, where layover cities are treated as final destinations. The airline accuses the website of deceiving travelers by selling American Airlines flights without proper authorization and infringing on copyright by using the airline’s logos.
Labeling the situation as a “classic bait and switch,” American Airlines has sought injunctive relief to halt the use of its logos and the publication of its flight information on Skiplagged.com. Additionally, the airline is seeking compensation for damages incurred.
“Skiplagging” refers to the practice of purchasing a sequence of connecting flights with the intention of utilizing only a single segment. Airlines view this approach as detrimental, and it is typically prohibited in flight purchase agreements. This prohibition stems from the fact that adopting this strategy results in at least one flight having unoccupied seats, which could have otherwise accommodated passengers in need.
The trend of “skiplagging” appears to be gaining momentum this year. In a previous report by TravelPulse in May, the rising cost of airfare was highlighted as a driver for travelers attempting to exploit this method, often with the support of Skiplagged.com.
Notably, a recent incident involved a 17-year-old passenger who attempted to “skiplag” on an American Airlines flight from Florida to New York. The passenger intended to take the connecting flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, instead of completing the original itinerary. His scheme was uncovered when a gate agent identified the inconsistency through his North Carolina identification. As confirmed by sources, American Airlines commands 90 percent of the market share in Charlotte, thus making this strategy ineffective.
Skiplagged’s COO, Dan Gellert, explained that by imposing a flight ban on the teen, American Airlines effectively limited his travel options from Charlotte, given the airline’s significant presence in the region.
American Airlines is not the first carrier to take legal action against Skiplagged.com. In 2014, United Airlines and Orbitz pursued legal measures, accusing the website of unfair competition and deceptive practices. United’s case was eventually dismissed. In 2021, Southwest Airlines followed suit, citing unauthorized display of fares and flight sales. Southwest and Skiplagged reached a settlement earlier this year.
“Many of the fares displayed on Skiplagged’s website are higher than what the consumer would pay if they simply booked a ticket on American’s website or through an actual authorized agent,” the suit by American Airlines says. “It is a classic bait and switch: draw consumers in with the promise of secret fares, and instead sell the consumer a ticket at a higher price.”