American Airlines sues travel site over alleged deception, threatens to cancel tickets sold on site

American Airlines filed suit against Skiplagged Inc., an online travel agency, over allegations that the agency deceives customers, though the airline does have the right and ability to cancel the tickets. 

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, American Airlines claims Skiplagged “deceives the public” by claiming to issue valid tickets despite not having authority to “form and issue a contract” on American Airlines’ behalf. 

The suit alleges Skiplagged is not an agent of American Airlines and thus, the airline can cancel any ticket issued by the travel agency.  

“It [Skiplagged] employs unauthorized and deceptive ticketing practices, entices customers to participate in this deceptive ticketing practices by promising savings, and then doesn’t deliver,” the suit said.

American Airlines claimed Skiplagged also deceives customers into thinking they are accessing a “loophole” but many of the fares listed on Skiplagged website are higher than if they booked a ticket on American’s website or through an authorized agent. 

“It is the classic bait and switch: draw customers in with the promise of secret fares, and instead sell the consumer a ticket at a higher price,” the suit said.

Skiplagging is a practice where travelers book a flight that includes at least one stop, but they leave the plane during a layover. While generally not illegal, airlines claim the practice violates their policies.  

Skiplagged allegedly “hides its activity” and tells customers to hide it from American Airlines, the lawsuit said. The suit claimed Skiplagged pretends to be a customer and buys tickets on American Airlines’ website, violating the airline’s contractual terms of use which states the tickets sold on the airline’s website are only for personal, non-commercial use. 

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The suit alleged Skiplagged is “misusing” American’s trademarks to suggest it is American’s authorized agent and committing trademark and copyright infringements. 

American Airlines will “continue to lose control over its own reputation and goodwill” due to Skiplagged’s practices, the suit said.

American Airlines requested Skiplagged be prohibited from publishing American Airlines flight content, selling or reselling American flight tickets, accessing American Airlines’ website for commercial use, acting as an agent for American or displaying American’s trademarks and copyrights. 

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Skiplagged, based in New York, has faced suits before, from airlines including United and Southwest.

The Hill has reached out to American Airlines for comment.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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