United’s lawsuit against 22-year-old who found hidden cheap tickets dismissed by court
A Chicago judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by United Airlines against a 22-year-old who built a website to help people save airfare in a way that violates the airline’s policy, CNNMoney reports.
Aktarer Zaman, a young programmer from New York City, launched a website Skiplagged.com that allows people to search for hidden cheap plane tickets. United Airlines and Orbitz had filed a civil lawsuit last November against him. The Orbitz’s portion of the case was settled in February but United had kept fighting.
Judge John Robert Blakey of the Northern District Court of Illinois dismissed United’s case, citing that it was outside the court’s jurisdiction because Zaman didn’t live or conduct business in Chicago.
Zaman’s website Skiplagged.com uses what is called “hidden city” fares to help people search for cheap tickets. It is a secret known to frequent flyers that sometimes it is cheaper to buy a flight with a connection and never take the second leg of the trip than to buy a direct flight. The website helps people find these cheap flights, although it does not sell tickets itself. Last month, the hugely popular site had over 1 million visitors, according to CNNMoney.
The lawsuit filed by United and Orbitz against Zaman accused him of “unfair competition” and “deceptive behavior,” and that the site promoted “strictly prohibited” travel. The two companies wanted compensation of $75,000 in lost revenue from Zaman.
After the dismissal of the case, United spokeswoman Christen David said “the decision was a ruling on procedural grounds and not on the merits of the case.” It is unclear whether United would continue to pursue legal action.
To Zaman, this was a big victory. “It is pretty amazing … the court just shut them off,” he said to CNNMoney.
Despite that, he told CNNMoney that he still anticipated further lawsuits.
“The cynic in me says this is an uphill battle,” he said. “I’m not going to let my guard down.”
Zaman does not make money from his website, but he has raised $79,000 on a crowdfunding site for legal expenses. He plans to look for investors after the legal dispute is resolved completely.