Friday, January 2, 2015


Airlines complain they
Can't sell one seat twice



In this case, the "coin" is the airlines and a ticket consolidator are suing a Aktarer Zaman, founder of the airfare advice site for illegally promoting use of the technique to get discounts.

What's wrong with trying to get a discount on an over-priced airline ticket?

What's wrong, the plaintiff's claim, is that the airlines want to sell a vacated seat that already was sold once.

The Problem

The airlines sell tickets from Point A to a popular Point B at a premium.

The same airlines sell tickets from the same Point A to a less popular Point C destination for a lower price.

Travelers who know their flight's route buy a Point A to Point C ticket and get off when the plane makes a stop at Point B.

An example found at the ZDNet site, a customer buying a ticket from New York to Los Angeles, where competition is high, could get a lower rate than a flight to Chicago, but could simply get off the plane during a stop in Chicago and avoid a higher fare.

The airlines and ticket seller contend that "hidden city" ticketing "is strictly prohibited by most commercial airlines because of logistical and public safety concerns" and violates the terms of service of carriers.

The most complete story of this David vs. Goliaths contretemps is presented in a Business Week article hededcq Is It OK to Cheat Airlines if It Saves You Money?

Unlike the AFP article picked up by most sites, the Business Week site offers the flip side to the "coin."

According to the Business Week article, If [airlines] didn’t try to price flights to certain hubs so high, perhaps you wouldn’t have as many people trying to buy hidden city fares,” says Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group. Yet given strong customer demand, airlines would be foolish to “leave money on the table” if they can command top prices on some flights, he notes. “To a certain degree then, they encourage this type of behavior,” says Harteveldt, who doesn’t consider the practice ethical. “There’s no easy solution to this.”

IN A RELATED STORY CNN headlines that 22-year-old raises $33,000 in fight with United Airlines. While the CNN item is itself of interest, the readers' comments following the CNN copy are more interesting. Most, albeit now all, of the comments slammed the airline. The best comment, in my mind, was Does this lawsuit mean a restaurant can sue me if I don't eat all the food I order?. That comment may not be agreeable to everyone, but it is amusing.

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