Economy

World Business Report, Why Lufthansa sued a passenger for missing a flight

World Business Report, Why Lufthansa sued a passenger for missing a flight”

Before travelers were pulled into the digital world of algorithms that airlines use to maximize their revenue stream, they would often try ploys like "hidden city ticketing", where the passenger books a ticket to a fictitious destination (the "hidden" city) with a connection at the intended destination, then walks away at the connection node and discards the remaining segment.

For example, someone who wants to travel to Chicago may book a flight from NY to Los Angeles with a layover in Chicago, if that flight is less expensive than direct flights to Chicago. After using the outbound flight, instead of boarding the Frankfurt-to-Oslo return flight, he flew on a separate Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Berlin, according to CNN.

This practice of skipping the last leg of a flight is so popular there's even a website dedicated to it: Skiplagged, which promotes cheap fares that use hidden city ticketing. He booked his flight on April 8, 2016, and traveled early the next month.

The unnamed passenger had booked a return trip from Oslo to Seattle with Lufthansa, with the journey including a stopover in the German city of Frankfurt. It is now seeking $2,385 in compensation. Lufthansa, which is seeking $2,385 compensation, says the passenger violated terms and conditions.

In November a Spanish court ruled that Iberia passengers could not be punished for hidden city ticketing. By contrast, the court said, the airline's method of calculating its initial price is "completely intransparent". The suit was initially dismissed by a Berlin court in December, but a spokesperson for Lufthansa confirmed to CNN that the airline had appealed the decision.

The site, which was founded by Aktarer Zaman, was sued by both United Airlines and Orbitz. But Orbitz later settled its case with the site, and a judge dismissed United's portion of the suit in 2015 - mostly because the case was filed in IL and Skiplagged is based in NY. It also skews the market for those final-leg flights, critics say, driving prices up and leaving seats empty.



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