This Airline Is Suing a Passenger for Buying a Cheap Flight

PHOTO: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

The airline claims a customer exploited a loophole.

Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, is attempting to sue one of its passengers for buying a stopover ticket with no plans to fly the final leg of the journey. The practice is called “skiplagging” or “hidden-city ticketing,” and flyers turn to it because nonstop flights are typically more expensive. In skiplagging, customers book non-direct flights that feature their desired destinations, and they reach those destinations without flying the full route. For example, if a customer were looking to fly from New York to Paris, and they found a cheaper flight from from New York to London with a layover in Paris, they would exit the trip on that layover.

While the passenger walked away with a victory in the court case, Lufthansa is appealing and they want the passenger to compensate them for “tariff abuse.” Airlines disapprove of skiplagging as it reduces revenue, can delay flights, and, according to USA Today, hampers computer programs that estimate how many people won’t show up to flights.

The site has also been included in legal battles, which they refer to in their motto: “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us….but we won.”

In November, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled skiplagging legal after Iberia, Spain’s flag carrier, attempted to prevent passengers from using it. The company tried to add a clause to its sales contracts that said it would penalize any customers who attempted the loophole strategy. Skiplagging has become so popular that a website aptly-named Skiplagged can help you find these types of deals to save you money. The site has also been included in legal battles, which they refer to in their motto: “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us….but we won.”

Passengers who want to take advantage of skiplagging could face numerous problems. Firstly, their itinerary could be canceled altogether if they fail to show up for a flight. For instance, if the flyer books a three-legged route (LHR-DUB-JFK) and shows up for the second part of that route (at DUB), they might find themselves out of a seat as they were classified as a “no-show” on the first flight (at LHR). The risk of losing checked luggage is also an issue if a passenger fails to complete a route, as such most skiplaggers only fly with carry-ons. 

Ways to Find Cheap Flights (That Won’t Get You Sued)

We recommend using Google Flights to track prices, but you’ll need to be flexible with dates and travel plans to save the most. For frequent flyers, FlyerTalk’s Premium Fare Deals is consistently reliable, as is Fodor’s Deals page, where we regularly dig up dirt-cheap flights to Europe and beyond. Take a look at Dollar Flight Club as well, which currently offers trips to Tenerife, Spain, from Los Angeles starting at $466, and from New York City starting at $396!