United, Orbitz sue tiny Skiplagged, which crowdfunds a defenseNews / DistributionBy Sean O'Neil | December 31, 2014Share This article was originally published on About 1,500 people have donated funds to a 22-year-old entrepreneur, who is crowdfunding a legal defense fund in response to a lawsuit by United and Orbitz against himself and his cheap airfare website Skiplagged.The airline and online travel agency want to stop Skiplagged's sales of so-called "hidden city" tickets.Sometimes nonstop flights to a destination are more expensive than booking a multi-stop flight that happens to lay over at a flier's true destination.In a sly trick, a daring traveler can buy the round-trip fare and then only use a portion of the ticket to reach his or her "hidden city" destination.Exhibit A: In 2004, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia didn't want to pay $698 for a one-way fare back to his home in Washington D.C. from Louisana, where he had been on a hunting trip with then-vice-president Dick Cheney, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.So Justice Scalia bought a cheaper round-trip ticket between Louisiana and DC. He only flew on the first part of the trip to his home.Like all US airlines except for Southwest, United prohibits the hidden-city tactic in its rules, or contract of carriage. That said, as long as the passenger doesn't lie, it's not illegal, according to travel law experts.United and Orbitz are suing Skiplagged because they believe, in brief, that the site needs their O.K. to sell those tickets, due to commercial contracts. (See United and Orbitz's court filing, here.)The site's owner, Aktarer Zaman, told Tnooz that the corporations are suing for six claims of damages, at $75,000 each -- unlike what has been reported in other publications. Zaman insists: "United and Orbitz never paid me a penny, nor did I ever ask for anything."Share this quote Hidden-city ticketing has been debated for years.In the early 2000s, some consumers filed a federal-class action against Northwest, Delta, and other airlines, claiming that their rules to clamp down on "hidden city" tickets constitute an abuse of monopoly power. But despite getting to court, the case went nowhere.Zaman plans to take his own fight in court. Since November, Skiplagged has raised $31,000 from people to help pay his legal fees.Earlier in December, Zaman did a Reddit AMA, or user-generated Q&A, describing his site and the case against him. That drew a lot of attention.About half of his funding has been raised in the past 36 hours, thanks to a wave of media interest in his campaign at GoFundMe.United and Orbitz's perspectives are best understood in their own words. See the complaint, here.