Logan Parson’s first solo flight ended with airport officials apprehending the teenager and taking him into an interrogation room.
Logan is visiting Gainesville, Florida with his father and plans to fly home alone. On the return trip, his father booked him a flight that started in Gainesville, but ended in New York.
However, New York was not Logan’s final destination.
Instead, he plans to leave the plane during its stopover in Charlotte – his hometown – and simply skip the last leg of the journey, using a travel trick called ” skiplagging” or book a ticket to the hidden city.
Skiplagging exploits the pricing schemes of airline companies for the benefit of customers.
Usually, direct flights to a destination are more expensive than a flight with a transit. Perhaps a direct flight to Denver costs $370, but a flight to San Diego – with a few hours of transit in Denver – costs only $200. For a traveler who wants to go to Denver, it makes more sense to buy a San Diego ticket and simply get off the plane in Denver, rather than buying a ticket directly to the city.
That’s what Hunter Parsons, Logan’s father, thought when he booked his son’s ticket to New York.
“We have been using Skip Lagged almost exclusively for the past five to eight years,” Mr. Parsons said. Queen City News. “Booked a flight from the Gainesville area to JFK via Charlotte.”
Mr. Parsons dropped Logan at the airport in Florida, but a border officer noted that the teenager’s identification card was issued in Gainsville – the same city where his flight was scheduled to stop for transit. The agent became suspicious and reported him to airport officials, who detained and questioned the teenager.
“Was questioned a bit, eventually taken to security,” Mr. Parsons said. “They figured he was going to get off the train in Charlotte and wouldn’t be making the connecting flight.”
After American Airlines learned that the teen was planning to skip, officials called his parents and forced them to buy a new non-stop flight from Gainsville to Charlotte.
Skiplagging cuts into the airline industry’s profits, so the airline industry doesn’t like to ignore. United Airlines actually sued a website dedicated to helping travelers find better skip deals, but ultimately lost. Lufthansa went so far as to sue a passenger who skipped a flight, alleging that the customer should have paid £2,769, but instead bought a £600 ticket and got off the plane early.
A German court has finally ruled in favor of tourists.
While there’s nothing illegal about bypassing — at least for now — the airline industry can set its own rules and punish travelers who are found to be using travel hacks. Those penalties could include the loss of attractions or – as happened with Parsons – additional ticketing fees.
Mr Parsons not only has to pay more for his son’s second ticket, but also fears for his son who has never flown alone.
“Our concern is that he’s a minor and has to fend for himself a few states away,” Mr Parsons said.
American Airlines commented on the decision to detain incoming child travelers Queen City News.
“Purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights for a lower fare (hidden city booking) is a violation of American Airlines terms and conditions and is outlined in its online Conditions of Carriage. we. Our Customer Relations team has been in contact with the customer to learn more about their experience,” the airline said in a statement.
Mr Parsons – who was unaware the practice had been opposed by airlines – said a warning would have been better than having his son detained and questioned.
“I think a stern warning, hey, this is not frowned upon, if you do it again there will be consequences, financial penalties,” he said. “But putting a minor in that situation is really the reason for our concern.”