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!

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Matt

Maybe they should just charge fair prices where this wouldn’t be possible

rw

interesting enough. If I missed the final leg of my flight and managed to get back myself, will United reimburse me for that portion???

Thang Nguyen

Why do airlines make same price or cheaper ? Prblem solved

Because Airlines want to pick passengers’ pocket and passengers want to save money

P.

If airlines simplified their fee structure customers would have the need for a work-around like Skiplagged. Instead this type of ‘searching’ reveals that. If airlines can get creative with pricing in order to make money, why should consumers be permitted to get creative and save money.

0504Traveller

As you said, sometimes the fare difference between is so great when looking into a direct flight versus a ‘skiplagged’ flight. I have only done it once, and only with hand-carry. In my opinion, the practice should continue but people should not abuse the practice. 38 instances seems like a lot, but also taking someone to court also seems excessive. To me, the airline is still making money they are selling the same seats so why not take advantage sometimes.

MARK JENKINS

United and other airlines have priced their flights like this for years…. And frequent travelers have been taking advantage of their pricing for years.

Fred

It is a problem the airlines created for themselves. I can’t imagine how this could be construed as illegal, so how a court could rule against a passenger taking advantage of some crazy revenue maximization scheme is beyond me.

Eric

Arteries are not monopolies. Completion on routes drives unique pricing methods. If skiplagging was common, carriers would overbook more to fill the seats, causing more disruption to the regular traveling public. Including you and I.

If it was my airline, and someone skiplagged, they’d get booted from my FF program for life. Would I take them to court? No, that’s bad PR.

Dja123

This exactly. The airlines use sophisticated algorithms and arbitrary fees to take money from passengers. I wholeheartedly commend those passengers who use those same systems and processes to return the favor.

Farouk Ismail

Charge Fairly then you wont have this problem.
Airlines promote this practice.Everyone is out there to save Monies.