American Airlines Goes After the Airfare Loophole Dividing the Travel Industry
Caught skiplagging? Drop your finger weapon and try to cooperate. This travel hack could get you in a bit of trouble.
Airfare is finally getting cheaper after last summer’s record — with prices falling 19% in July from the previous year. But according to Nerdwallet, total travel costs are still 12% higher than in July 2019, and some thrifty travelers have turned to “skiplagging” to find better deals.
Here’s how it works: You book a flight with a layover (Point A → Point B → Point C). But instead of going to Point C, you stop at Point B — without ever intending to go to Point C.
Why the hassle? Direct flights are typically more expensive than connecting flights. Buying a connecting flight and skipping the middle leg means travelers can pocket the savings… as long as they don’t get caught.
Skiplagged.com has made a business out of helping travelers identify these rule-breaking flights — but airlines are cracking down on the travel hack and the company promoting it.
Skiplagged in the crosshairs
Last week, American Airlines sued Skiplagged — saying, “This practice is expressly prohibited… because Skiplagged knows this, it even expressly advises customers on what steps to take to avoid getting caught.”
The airline claims that many of Skiplagged’s fares “are higher than what the consumer would pay” on American’s website or an authorized agent (WP) — and that Skiplagged charges fees that may cost more than booking directly.
This isn’t the first time airlines have targeted Skiplagged:
- United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) sued the site in 2014 before a federal judge threw out the suit.
- Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) sued in 2021, claiming Skiplagged tricks flyers into violating the airline’s terms of service — but was dismissed after the two reached a settlement.
Thinking of skiplagging? Know the risks first. Airlines hold significant leverage over travelers, and skiplaggers risk having reward memberships revoked, being slapped with lawsuits or facing airline bans. Last month, American Airlines canceled a North Carolina teen’s flight and allegedly banned them from flying for three years (WP).