Airlines Are Trying To Ban Throwaway Ticketing

Several airlines around the globe are trying to ban throwaway ticketing. Throwaway ticketing is one of the simplest travel hacks. Nonetheless, it violates airline rules and some airlines indeed punish passengers who use this practice repeatedly.

What exactly is throwaway ticketing?

According to United Airlines, throwaway ticketing is “[t]he booking and/or issuance and/or use of connecting and/or roundtrip tickets for the purpose of one–way or partial travel only.” Let’s look at a couple of examples.

First of all, some passengers buy a cheaper round-trip ticket with the intent to use it for one-way travel. Accordingly, they will only travel one-way and “throw away” the return trip.

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Then there is “hidden-city ticketing.” Also known as skiplagging, hidden-city ticketing is basically another version of throwaway ticketing. Passengers wanting to travel from A to B will buy a cheaper ticket from A to C with a connecting flight at B. They will simply stay at B and throw away, or”skiplag”, the trip from B to C.

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United Airlines Boeing 737
United Airlines has tried to fine passengers who skiplagged. Photo: United Airlines.

Passengers use throwaway ticketing to save money. Nonetheless, airlines contend that it is illegal as it violates their contracts of carriage. As a matter of fact, United Airlines‘ Booking and Ticketing Policy clearly states that throwaway ticketing is a prohibited practice.

Lufthansa recently sued a passenger for damages due to unpaid fares. However, the airline did not succeed. The court stated that Lufthansa was correct in taking the passenger to court. Nonetheless, the airline was not able to recover any damages because it was not clear how Lufthansa determined the amount it was owed.

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Lufthansa Airbus A350
Lufthansa is trying to crack down on passengers buying “throwaway tickets.” Photo: Wikimedia.

Overall

Airlines lose money when passengers buy “throwaway tickets.” Accordingly, it makes sense why they are trying to ban this practice. Even though they will not come after every passenger who travels with a “throwaway ticket,” repeat offenders might have to worry. Airlines might charge passengers for the difference in ticket prices. Additionally, they might refuse to let passengers board the aircraft.

How do you feel about airlines trying to ban throwaway ticketing?

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Kenneth Riley

It is the airlines’ own stupid fault surely?? They should price tickets in a fair , sensible, and transparent manner, then this problem would never arise! If a supermarket advertised ‘buy three products, and get 50% off’, it would be their own fault if one of the products was a TV!! No complaints if that is what you are doing! It should definitely not be regarded as illegal

Zburatorul

In europe we pay for the ticket no matter what so i don’t see where the problem is?!

Daniel Hackney

But just to be clear, it’s not illegal. Even the airlines themselves wouldn’t claim that it is. It’s breach of contract. But there’s nothing illegal about breach of contract. It’s perfectly legal to breach contracts all the time — and your counter party can come seek damages if they don’t like it.

Unless the practice got specifically criminalized by a law that was passed, which seems unlikely.
Great article btw.

Adam Simmons

It’s understandable why they do it. For example, a business class return from Casablanca to Rio cost around EUR3,600 when I looked but only EUR1,500 return from Madrid via Casa. On the former route, RAM has a monopoly; on the latter, it’s in competition with Air Europa, LATAM, Iberia, TAP, etc. etc.

John

They overbook flights for exactly this reason. They sell the same seat twice and have a bigger problem if the skiplager shows up and they gouge the last minute traveller so they “double dip” seats and then have a problem with it. Only airlines could pull this crap.

Jessica

If they didn’t jack up the prices so much for longer stays, one-way tickets, and etc., then they’d have no problems, would they. I agree with the commenter below: it’s their own fault. It makes me really annoyed that a round trip ticket for a trip that’s a week or two long costs half as much as a round trip ticket for a trip that’s two or three months long, which is my current problem. So yeah, I’m probably going to buy a ticket for a two-week stay, and not use the return portion, and then buy another ticket from… Read more »