End of skiplagging? Lufthansa suing passenger for ditching last leg of flight

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One of Europe’s major airlines and the largest one in Germany wants to recoup lost profits by taking a customer to Berlin-Mitte court, claiming the individual had no intention of making the final leg of the journey.

German Lufthansa airline wants to punish a passenger who allegedly took advantage of their ticket pricing by ditching the last leg of a booked flight. The case may put an end to a loophole exploited by seekers of cheap flights.

The passenger reportedly bought a cheaper multiple-stop ticket instead of a direct one, and simply did not show up for the last leg of the flight.

The defendant, whose name has not been disclosed, was supposed to fly to Oslo from Seattle via Frankfurt back in April 2016. However, the passenger failed to catch a connecting flight and later returned from Frankfurt to Berlin on a separate ticket.

Lufthansa says the customer paid €657 for his ticket while he should have paid €2,769, and demands €2,112 plus interest, according to the court filings cited by media.

The local court initially ruled in favor of the customer in December 2018. However, it gave Lufthansa an opportunity to appeal as it reportedly said that the reason the company is trying to sue the passenger is valid. At the same time, the court ruling said that while the Lufthansa price calculation lacks transparency, the passenger was aware that the ticket he chose was cheaper.

The practice, when a person books tickets from one destination to another via a third location but only intending to travel one part of the route, is also known as skiplagging. Travelers use the option of a two-leg ticket as it is often cheaper than the one leg one.

For example, if you take a direct flight from Los Angeles to Munich on March 1, you will spend nearly $1,100. However, if you book a flight from the same place for the same date but to Moscow via Munich, it will cost you around $300 less.

While there is much debate whether the practice is legal and the companies warn passengers they may be charged additionally for doing so, it is almost unheard of for airlines to go through with the threat.

Last year, Spain’s supreme court reportedly ruled that skiplagging is legal, meaning Spanish flag carrier Iberia cannot charge clients for missed flights on multiple-stop routes and allowing passengers to use any or all parts of a ticket.

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