Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Lufthansa plans to sue passenger for missing booked flight

The German airline claims the traveller was taking advantage of its booking system to get a cheaper fare

Lufthansa wants to sue a passenger it claims exploited its ticketing system. Bloomberg  
Lufthansa wants to sue a passenger it claims exploited its ticketing system. Bloomberg  

Lufthansa wants to sue a passenger it claims intentionally missed a leg of their journey to get a cheaper flight, it has been claimed.

The German airline is pursuing a lawsuit against the unidentified traveller, claiming the customer deliberately didn't board their final flight, originally booked to avoid the premium price placed on non-stop journeys.

Lufthansa was granted permission to appeal after an initial ruling found in the passenger's favour, The Independent reported.

The move took advantage of the airlines' ticketing system, whereby multi-stop journeys are typically cheaper than non-stop flights. The cheat is known as "skiplagging", with a passenger booking a flight from A to C via B, but with the intention of never making their B to C flight. The trick is named after the website Skiplagged, an airfare search engine that claims to "expose loopholes to save your money".

According to court documents, Lufthansa is seeking payment from the passenger, claiming he or she booked a flight from Oslo to Seattle via Frankfurt, the Daily Mail reports. However, the airline alleges the passenger instead took a separately booked flight from Frankfurt to Berlin.

"As this is a running court case, we do not comment on this case at this stage," a Lufthansa representative told aviation news site, Simple Flying.

The practice is discouraged by airlines, with many warning passengers not to abuse tariffs – though this is believed to be the first time a carrier has tried to take a flyer to court over the skiplagging move.

"Should you change your carriage without our agreement, we will assess the correct price for your actual travel," Etihad says in its terms and conditions. "You will have to pay any difference between the price you have paid and the total fare we calculate for your revised carriage."

Pitfalls of the practice

Skiplagging can cause delays for airlines as they wait for unaccounted-for passengers, with airlines that have flights routed through hub airports – such as Lufthansa in Frankfurt and Munich – being particularly affected.

The practice carries risks for passengers, too. Checking in baggage is not advised, as cases are often transported straight through to the final destination. No-show travellers will also typically find the remaining portion of their booking cancelled, which affects those planning to miss the first segment of their journey.

Updated: February 12, 2019 06:01 PM