Published: Thu, February 14, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Lufthansa sues passenger over using the 'hidden city' fare ploy

Lufthansa sues passenger over using the 'hidden city' fare ploy

The German national airline is pursuing a lawsuit against the unnamed traveller, alleging the customer deliberately didn't board their final flight, originally booked to avoid the premium price placed on non-stop journeys.

For example, you might be keen to get from Los Angeles to Houston, but a flight from LA to New Orleans with a connection in Houston happens to be cheaper than a direct flight. 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.

A German airline has taken legal action against a passenger for intentionally missing his flight as part of a scheme travellers use to save money on plane fares. He booked his flight on April 8, 2016, and traveled early the next month.

Skiplagging can cause delays for airlines as they wait for unaccounted-for passengers, with carriers that have flights routed through hub airports - such as Lufthansa in Frankfurt and Munich - particularly affected. "No law is broken when a passenger decides not to take a flight he or she bought, and twice now when airlines have sued to cut back on the practice, their lawsuits have been dismissed". It is now seeking $2,385 in compensation.

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Hidden city ticketing frustrates airlines, and Lufthansa reportedly sought around $2,385 in damages from the passenger, claiming he violated the airline's terms of service. So far a court has found in favour of the passenger - but now Lufthansa is appealing. By contrast, the court said, the airline's method of calculating its initial price is "completely intransparent".

However, that suit was thrown out by an IL judge, who said the district didn't have jurisdiction over the issue. "We're exposing loopholes in airfare pricing to save you money".

The practice is discouraged by airlines, with many warning passengers not to abuse tariffs - though this is believed to be the first time a carrier has tried to take a flier to court over the skiplagging hack.

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