American Airlines Sues a Travel Website for Selling Layover Tickets While Encouraging Consumers to Leave at the Layover Stop
American Airlines is suing Skiplagged Inc. in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas for alleged deception. American Airlines accuses Skiplagged Inc., in part, of a practice called “skiplagging” where travelers book a flight that includes at least one stop, but actually end their trip at the layover airport.
In July 2023, American Airlines banned a seventeen-year old for three years after he booked a flight from Florida to New York, but got off at North Carolina during the layout over stop. Skiplagging is done because layover flights are often cheaper than direct flights. Skiplagging is not illegal, though American Airlines claims it violates their policies.
American Airlines accused Skiplagged Inc. of tricking consumers into believing this was a secret loophole that could save them money, and not a violation of American Airlines policies. American Airlines threatened to void every ticket sold by Skiplagged as Skiplagged had no authority to issue such tickets on American Airlines’ behalf.
How Is Possible for an Airline to Ban a Passenger If the Reason Is Not Illegal?
Airlines are private companies that own private planes. As private property owners, they have the right to invite or reject anyone they want from coming onto their own property, provided that the reason for rejection isn’t an illegal one, such as racial or sex discrimination. If American Airlines wants to ban someone from their planes for skiplagging, that is their right as a property owner.
Skiplagged Is Potentially Accused of Fraud, Not Consumer Loopholes
Skiplagging is not illegal. It is possible to buy a ticket that includes a stop and then get off at the stop rather than at the destination airport. Americans have a right to travel and are not compelled to be transported across state lines if they don’t want to. In fact, airlines are being absurd by charging more for a direct flight rather than a flight with more stops.
Skiplagged Inc.’s problem isn’t that the “loophole exists.” Instead, Skiplagged is potentially liable for fraud if it knew that skiplagging is a violation of American Airline’s policies. Although skiplagging may save money consumer money, promoting skiplagging as a legitimate practice is not acceptable if it violates American Airlines’ own policies.
Not All Problems Can Be Solved with a Lawsuit
American Airlines, and all airlines, best solution to skiplagging isn’t a legal one. If there are two flights to the same destination, consumers will naturally buy the cheaper one. It is impossible for an airline to force a passenger to get onboard a plane. American Airlines must ultimately realize that it is not feasible to make layover flights cheaper than direct flights and not expect passengers to react accordingly.
Banning passengers from flying because they wanted a cheaper ticket, especially if the passenger is a minor, isn’t a viable long-term solution. Music record companies used to sue minors for illegally downloading music, but this was ultimately a temporary measure as most of the public didn’t see it as illegal. Unlike music downloading though, skiplagging isn’t even illegal, so filing lawsuits will be an even less viable solution.
Ultimately, skiplagging isn’t a legal problem that litigation will solve. Skiplagging is an economic problem built into how airlines charge for their services. To combat skiplagging, American Airlines will be better off adjusting its prices in the free market rather than fight in the courtroom.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Airline Issues?
If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to disruptive behavior on an airline, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney. Because these issues are governed by international, federal, and local laws, aviation law is very complex. An attorney can assist with your case, especially if you have been accused of being a disruptive passenger.