United Airlines Asks Airport Staff To Help Spot Skiplagging

United Airlines has reportedly sent an internal memo to airport staff regarding skiplagging. The memo is a reminder to staff to watch out for skiplagging, and how to deal with suspected cases.

United Skiplagging Internal Memo
United Airlines has sent out an internal memo reminding staff on how to address skiplagging. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Skipplagging is also known as hidden city ticketing. It is a practice that is frowned upon by airlines at the best of times. However, it can save some passengers serious cash on some bookings. The airlines aren’t happy with customers saving money in this manner. In fact, it often goes against airlines’ conditions of carriage.

So, what is skiplagging?

Any regular readers will likely be aware of what skipplagging is. However, here’s a quick recap for those not familiar.

In order to attract passengers on connecting itineraries, airlines may offer cheaper fares on the exact same flight to those connecting. Let us look at a Lufthansa example. On the 18th of August, a one-way flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles is currently listed as €2,245. However, the exact same flight booked as a connecting flight originating in London costs €1,835. That represents a saving of €410.

United Airlines, Skiplagging, Internal Memo
Lufthansa took a passenger to court for skiplagging earlier in the year. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Now, on a return itinerary, missing the hop back to London would be known as skiplagging. If this was missed on the outbound portion, the whole itinerary would likely be canceled. Lufthansa attempted to take a gentleman to court earlier in the year for carrying out this practice. However, the case was thrown out despite ruling that Lufthansa was in the right.

United Airlines’ internal memo

According to aviation news website Skift, United Airlines issued a memo to staff reminding them to be on the lookout for skipplagging individuals. They report that the memo said, “Ask questions and understand the customer’s situation”. This would allow staff to determine whether passengers are skipping the leg of a flight for a legitimate reason such as sickness.

It went on to instruct staff to flag instances of suspected skiplagging to the airline’s revenue protection department. The memo says: “Corporate security is better positioned to follow up on the situation and taking appropriate action to ensure customers are following contract of carriage rules and United policies.”

United Airlines, Skiplagging, Internal Memo
Airport staff has been issued a reminder about spotting skiplagging. Photo: United Airlines

Simple Flying hasn’t seen the memo itself, however, a United spokesperson confirmed its authenticity. The airline told us,

“It is against our ticketing policies to purchase an additional segment with no intention to fly. The purpose of the communication we shared with our employees only was to serve as a reminder about how to address issues that may arise when customers purchase Hidden City tickets and travel with checked baggage.”

In October last year, we reported that United Airlines was attempting to punish passengers for skiplagging. One particular incident involved the airline demanding payment of thousands of dollars for 38 instances of the practice. Reports suggest that United Airlines threatened to involve debt collectors in this case. The outcome of this particular incident was not immediately clear.

Do you support or oppose skiplagging? Let us know in the comments!