7 Responses

  1. ucipass
    ucipass at |

    If I buy a bus ticket from Chicago to New York and I get off at Cleveland do you really think I broke a contract? Getting off at a connection point – given the opportunity – is totally ethical. What is your reasoning to call this unethical?
    Even if you sign a contract that you intend to go from point A to B who can “force you to use a service” and make you stay on the vehicle against your will?

    1. Joey
      Joey at |

      I’m afraid Pandora’s Box has been opened and can only imagine the excuses or logic examples (i.e. the bus or train example) beginners will give the check-in agents once they tell them to only put their luggages through the connecting city, etc.
      At the same time, perhaps it is time to change the pricing models of airline routes?

  2. Jon
    Jon at |

    If you read the lawsuit (http://web.mit.edu/mherdeg/Public/14-cv-09214/1-complaint.pdf) you will notice a few things:

    1. Mr. Zaman apparently never incorporated. Orbitz and United are suing him personally–not Skiplagged or some other corporate entity. This has potentially large financial ramifications for him if he loses, although I’m sure the almost $65K he raised via gofundme (http://www.gofundme.com/skiplagged) certainly will help. Not sure what he was thinking, but I’m sure he’s kicking himself assuming the reality is as it appears.

    2. The suit goes on to describe how Mr. Zaman played a cat and mouse game with Orbitz. How they warned him multiple times to stop and took steps thwart him. According to Orbitz, he blocked their IP range so it would appear that he complied but of course it was just that they could no longer see the offending behavior from their corporate domain. Regardless of what you feel about the practice of hidden city ticketing, that does not reflect well on Mr. Zaman and his approach to things and may hurt his case if the assertions can be proven true. Of course Mr. Zaman makes no mention of any of these facts in his original Reddit AMA (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2o831k/i_run_skiplagged_a_site_being_sued_by_united/) or the comments to which he chose to respond to. It’s convenient to paint yourself as the victim and gloss over any facts which do not support how you’d like to be portrayed.

    3. The suit makes no assertions about where he gets the data from and I’m guessing Orbitz and United don’t know. If I had to guess, it’s Google Flights since his sight is lightning fast and Google Flights is about the only thing that responds that quickly since it’s based on cached ITA data. Clearly he has no official agreement for this data.

    4. He asserts he has never made a dime off the site, even going so far as to show his affiliate partner statement. That may well be true, but it does seem strange that he was a part of the Orbitz Affiliate Program if he wasn’t going to monetize it. You have to wonder whether things would have been different if he just deep-linked to Orbitz’s flight results without having any sort of relationship with them. As far as I can tell, there was no need for him to be in the affiliate program in order to be able to coax the data out of their system.

    Bottom line, there is more to this story than has been reported in the media. The truth is often not black and white, and I believe this case is no exception. There are numerous layers which make it fascinating, not the least of which is the fact that United (one of the most hated airlines out there already), has a bit of a PR nightmare on their hands given the massive play this issue has been getting both on and off-line.

    If United’s goal was to rein in the process of hidden city ticketing, well the whole thing backfired on them, because travel newbies who knew nothing of the process now are being educated about it. Orbitz, an OTA who needs all the help they can get, is being dragged into it by United to protect themselves, partially due to their crappy and inept IT staff. I highly doubt you’d see someone like Expedia or Priceline joined at the hip with United in a suit like this. They’d tell United to go take a hike.