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Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
June 3, 2024 ·  5 min read

Airline bans teen from flying for three years after using ‘skiplagging’ scheme to save money

Traveling can become incredibly costly and often rather inconvenient as well. As such, there’s a constant back and forth between disgruntled customers and profiteering airline companies. For example, a teen boy was banned from American Airlines for three years after using a cheaper method to book his flight, known as a skiplagging scheme.

Skiplagging Scheme Gone Wrong

Logan Parsons, a 17-year-old boy, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, was searching for a flight home from Gainesville, Florida. He noted that a direct flight would cost about $400, whereas a flight from Gainesville to New York, with a layover in Charlotte, would only cost $150. Unsurprisingly, he booked the cheaper flight, a “life hack” called the skiplagging scheme. Instead of taking the flight all the way to New York, he would just get off in Charlotte, abandoning the rest of the flight.

In North Carolina, security took a look at the teen’s ID and immediately took him to security to be interrogated. His dad, Hunter, explained that American Airlines canceled his ticket. Logan was then required to buy a new ticket, equaling the amount of the direct flight. Furthermore, he’s been banned from traveling with American Airlines for three years for running the skiplagging scheme.

Double-Edged Sword

Hunter also disclosed that the family has been using skippedlag.com for a little over five years. He also explains that he never would’ve put Logan in that position if he’d known the potential risks. The website has a frequently asked questions page, which addresses many of the potential risks of a skiplagging scheme. “This is perfectly legal, and the savings can be significant.” The company explained. “But there are some things to be aware of. You might upset the airline, so don’t do this often.

Frowning Upon the Skiplagging Scheme

Interestingly, Logan and his family aren’t the first people to ultimately face consequences for seemingly running a skiplagging scheme. In 2018, United Airlines attempted to charge a passenger thousands of dollars in fees. The airline believed the passenger to have run a skiplagging scheme on more than 30 flights. Interestingly, The New Yorker published an article in 2015, explaining the implications if the skiplagging scheme trend took off.

Although it’s not illegal, a skiplagging scheme is highly frowned upon and comes with significant risks. Because airlines end up losing money, they will often go to great lengths to prevent passengers from taking part in a skiplagging scheme. The consequences vary if a passenger is caught but often result in a large fine or being banned from travel, as was the case with Logan. It turns out that there are actually a number of risks associated with running a skiplagging scheme.

David Slotnick is a senior aviation business reporter and explains that although skiplagging schemes have “been around a while,” they’re still “controversial.” He said, “I think it reveals a bizarre and counterintuitive way the airline-pricing model works. But in terms of being able to take advantage of that to save money, it’s a super big risk. “ Concluding, “You probably shouldn’t do it unless you fully understand what you’re doing.” He also explains that other risks of running a skiplagging scheme include being sued, losing all frequent fliers rewards, and last-minute re-booking (often at full cost). Passengers may also have trouble getting their checked bags, as they’re often sent on to the final destination. In many cases, this may be unavoidable.

Blind Agreements

Prior to booking, passengers always have to agree to the terms of an airline’s contract, or “conditions of carriage.” According to experts, within clauses, there are rules that prohibit passengers from partaking in a skiplagging scheme, although they don’t use that specific term. For example, passengers can’t make reservations “made to exploit or circumvent fare and ticket rules,” including, “purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares.”

Alternatives to the Skiplagging Scheme

Although traveling is expensive, there are plenty of ways to save money, that are widely accepted practices. Firstly, great deals are easy to find if a traveler can be flexible with time or location, this might include avoiding travel during peak times. However, as that’s not a luxury everyone has, there are plenty of travel sites like Expedia or Trivago that help passengers bundle their costs and save money or compare side by side rates to find the best deals. Moreover, services, such as Google Explore, can be set to send alerts when fares change.

Another expert, Erica Kullberg, has more than 20 million followers across 3 social media platforms and is an attorney and personal finance expert. She often posts videos with hints, tips, and tricks for consumers to know how to save money and take full advantage of all the perks to which they’re entitled.

Flying can become incredibly costly, particularly if traveling during the holidays or in the summer. These peak times are when flight costs are increased, allegedly due to supply and demand. Couple that with post-pandemic inflation, and the summer of 2023 has had record-breaking costly flights. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that consumers are looking for ways like a skiplagging scheme to ensure they can still afford to get where they need to be. Fortunately, many options exist in the way of tracking cheaper travel options.

Keep Reading: Man refused to switch seats for elderly couple on plane because he ‘paid extra to sit there’

Sources

  1. American Airlines barred a 17-year-old from flying with the airline for 3 years because he tried to use a ‘skiplagging’ ticket, the teen’s father says. Insider. Marielle Descalsota.  July 17, 2023.
  2. What is skiplagging? All about the travel hack airlines hate.Washington Post Brad Japhe. July 14, 2023.
  3. A controversial hack to save on plane tickets carries a ‘super big risk,’ says travel expert.” CNBC Greg Lacurci. July 22, 2023.
  4. Son detained at airport after ‘skip lagging’ flight hack, father says.KTLA Will Lewis, Addy Bink, and Russell Falcon. July 11, 2023.