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UPlog
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United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:55 pm

Imo cant blame United. I always found the practice of skipping a leg questionable and opening one up to can of worms.


United Airlines wants airport agents to monitor what it calls a “a growing trend” of so-called hidden-city ticketing, or passengers who book cheap fares to cities they do not intend to visit to save money. United is asking agents to cite possible scofflaws to its corporate security department, according to a new internal memo.

“This practice can potentially offer discounts on airfare and [is] not aligned with United’s contract of carriage,” the airline told airport customer service workers. “As the practice grows, we need to ensure that we’re both supporting our customers and properly enforcing the contract of carriage rules and United policies.”

“Our priority is to safely get our customers and their baggage to their final destinations, so always try to understand the customer’s situation and avoid confrontation when handling hidden city ticketing instances,” the memo said. “Corporate security is better positioned to follow up on the situation and taking appropriate action to ensure customers are following contract of carriage rules and United policies.”


https://skift.com/2019/08/01/united-air ... per-fares/
 
goosebayguy
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:03 pm

United need to change their pricing.
 
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Spiderguy252
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:05 pm

It's far easier to police this by adjusting the relevant prices than it is to ask staff to manually check every pax as he/she is deplaning.
Vahroone
 
zuckie13
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:16 pm

Spiderguy252 wrote:
It's far easier to police this by adjusting the relevant prices than it is to ask staff to manually check every pax as he/she is deplaning.


Pricing is the way it is so airlines can foster demand. Moving away from that pricing policy may hurt their bottom line so don't count on that changing.
It's up to the airlines how to enforce it, but it is in the rules you agree to when buying the ticket that you won't do this, so they are in their rights to "get you".
 
alasizon
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:16 pm

I would imagine that it would be relatively easy for UA to crack down on a small number of these, those that book a long(er) layover in the mid-point and request their baggage back and then never board the final segment.
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cledaybuck
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:20 pm

alasizon wrote:
I would imagine that it would be relatively easy for UA to crack down on a small number of these, those that book a long(er) layover in the mid-point and request their baggage back and then never board the final segment.
I would hope you are not checking baggage if you do this.
As we celebrate mediocrity, all the boys upstairs want to see, how much you'll pay for what you used to get for free.
 
alasizon
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:26 pm

cledaybuck wrote:
alasizon wrote:
I would imagine that it would be relatively easy for UA to crack down on a small number of these, those that book a long(er) layover in the mid-point and request their baggage back and then never board the final segment.
I would hope you are not checking baggage if you do this.


People aren't that smart and they know they can check a bag and then request it at baggage claim. They just make up a bogus story. Or they "miss" the flight and request it to be sent back and they will just drive to their final destination.
Manager on Duty & Tower Planner
 
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LAXintl
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:30 pm

The whole airline pricing model is based on individual market dynamics. So a ORD-SFO-LAS journey might be cheaper than simply a ORD-SFO booking.

Airlines have tried to simplify fare structures over the years but many have met with disasters such as AA's attempt twice to roll out simple fares with fewer price buckets and fare rules as consumers actually found them to be even less flexible than today's alphabet soup of options.

Yes some passengers think they are clever by skipping a last leg, airlines imo very much have a right to go after such customers and in egregious cases should seek the fare difference or do things like suspending their frequent flyer account if applicable.

Ultimately when you buy a fare, you agree to the terms. Just like the airline needs to compensate you for deviations from the agreement, the customer should be held liable for their end of the agreement as well.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
HPAEAA
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:34 pm

zuckie13 wrote:
Spiderguy252 wrote:
It's far easier to police this by adjusting the relevant prices than it is to ask staff to manually check every pax as he/she is deplaning.


Pricing is the way it is so airlines can foster demand. Moving away from that pricing policy may hurt their bottom line so don't count on that changing.
It's up to the airlines how to enforce it, but it is in the rules you agree to when buying the ticket that you won't do this, so they are in their rights to "get you".

Personally I think this is just another self inflicted wound for United’s public image and probably just a matter of time before it blows up again.. as long as they have large pricing variances on the same inventory creating this incentive, people will use it. I’m curious how large the “damages” they think they incur are... I have 2 hypothesis on this both untested - 1. The majority of the folks who take advantage of this wouldn’t purchase any ticket if this weren’t an option... and 2. Given UAs hub structure, they are more exposed than other carriers and that’s the reason they’re leading the charge..
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usdcaguy
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:54 pm

Of all the carriers, UA is the most likely to create a police state. Their puny carry-on allowance (personal-item-only allowance) for basic economy is unreal, and you can't even get your boarding pass until an agent has looked at your personal item BEFORE you go through security. So unless you have a lot of dough and have a job that allows you to fly a lot and become an elite, UA assumes you're a criminal. This is just another step in profiting from poor people who can't afford the egregious prices the carrier is charging. Reporting customers to "corporate security" is simply wrong and tantamount to a Stalinist state security system. They're way too desperate to catch up to DL, who allows a free standard carry-on in basic economy.
 
DarthLobster
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:56 pm

Once again UA proves it views it’s own customers as the enemy. If the public has found a loophole, it’s up to them to engineer a fix instead of gestapoing a stopgap solution.
 
caverunner17
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:57 pm

I don't know how they can legally do anything, and no, I don't care what it says in the fine print of the "contract". Airlines would have a hard time proving damages as you did pay and they'd likely end up reselling that empty seat anyways to a standby passenger.

I've done it a couple of times through the years. Just book one-way tickets, don't use a FF account, don't check baggage. I don't see how any airline can "force" you to take a flight. I could see banning passengers who abuse it (say more than 5 or 10 times/year), but going after someone who does it only 1-2x year isn't going to gain them any good publicity and would just rack up legal fees.
Last edited by caverunner17 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
Gulfstream500
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:03 pm

If it’s a few hundred dollars difference in the ticket fare, I’d understand why people do this! I would not do this, but airlines have no right to be angry when someone does not take a flight that they paid for (especially if it’s overbooked!).
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jetmatt777
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:04 pm

I think a fun policy once a hidden city customer is identified is to upgrade them to F class but on a different routing and see what their reaction is.

“Mr. Smith, we have upgraded you to F today however you will be routed through IAH instead of DEN on your way to LAS.” But I was only trying to get to DEN!
Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:07 pm

Simple, cancel the remainder of the trip, so you have to buy another ticket and don’t refund you on the first ticket. If bad enough, refuse to do business with you. Now, will they do that? I doubt it.


GF
 
ITSTours
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:07 pm

What would the carrier lose if a customer throw aways the ticket?

Nothing materially. In fact they would use less fuel or they can accommodate an extra standby passengers.

They, however, lose the potential revenue as the person could have bought the more expensive single segment ticket.

So I have not seen the good argument defending the airlines in this case. It is just a self-inflicted wound.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:12 pm

If they actually force somebody to pay up (rather than sheepishly continue to their ticketed destination), sooner or later a somebody is going to sue. A class-action suit would be lovely. We'll see what the courts think. UA better be careful what it asks for.
 
maverick4002
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:17 pm

I always found the practice of skipping a leg questionable

Eh, disagree. Price the trips accordingly to avoid this. And after all the nonsense airlines pull, they were the try to never take responsibility, and the gajillions of dollars they are making, I dont care. If you find a skiplag leg, do it!
 
YoungDon
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:20 pm

ITSTours wrote:
What would the carrier lose if a customer throw aways the ticket?

Nothing materially. In fact they would use less fuel or they can accommodate an extra standby passengers.

They, however, lose the potential revenue as the person could have bought the more expensive single segment ticket.

So I have not seen the good argument defending the airlines in this case. It is just a self-inflicted wound.


Agreed. I'm not a fan of how the airlines treat this topic. All they lose is potential revenue from a more expensive ticket that may or may not have been ultimately purchased. It's hard to prove actual harm in my opinion.

I understand why the airlines don't like hidden-city ticketing based on their pricing models, but I personally don't see how they can justify forcing someone to use something that they have already paid for. Once the airline has gotten the revenue, what's the big deal? Oh they feel like they should have gotten MORE revenue for taking you a shorter distance.

Slippery slope. I'd personally love to see how the courts feel about this. I personally don't do it and I realize its a violation of the CoC, but how the airlines treat it is highly offputting imo.
 
EvanWSFO
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:21 pm

Hidden city bookings aren't new. IIRC, there was even a newsletter on how to book these in the 80's or early 90's.
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LAXBUR
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:28 pm

I understand an airline’s frustration with this. But at the same time it may cost them more to pursue this all while giving the issue more attention which also won’t benefit the airline.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:40 pm

And if you cancel a flight and do not get a full refund (or negotiated amount) that seat should fly empty. Hidden city does not 'cheat' airlines nearly so much as their self defined right to sell the same seat twice and 'cheat' passengers.

WN simply offers a full refund for most tickets, and says that if you can find a hidden city ticket just do it ( but din't expect them to look after your luggage)
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ScottB
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:47 pm

LAXintl wrote:
The whole airline pricing model is based on individual market dynamics. So a ORD-SFO-LAS journey might be cheaper than simply a ORD-SFO booking.


Consumers aren't responsible for the airline pricing model. The airline is perfectly free to NOT price the longer journey lower than the shorter one, thus avoiding this issue entirely.

LAXintl wrote:
Yes some passengers think they are clever by skipping a last leg, airlines imo very much have a right to go after such customers and in egregious cases should seek the fare difference or do things like suspending their frequent flyer account if applicable.

Ultimately when you buy a fare, you agree to the terms. Just like the airline needs to compensate you for deviations from the agreement, the customer should be held liable for their end of the agreement as well.


Except that airline contracts of carriage by their very nature are contracts of adhesion, and apart from very limited circumstances (i.e. special agreements with large volume customers) customers have no leverage whatsoever in negotiating the terms. The airlines to date have eschewed suing customers for violating these contracts not because they wouldn't love to get the revenue, but rather because they fear that there's a very real possibility that the provisions against hidden-city ticketing would be found to be unenforceable.

And the U.S. airlines only compensate passengers for deviation from the agreement in rare occasions. Got you there two hours late due to a mechanical problem? You'd be lucky if they even apologized.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:52 pm

EvanWSFO wrote:
Hidden city bookings aren't new. IIRC, there was even a newsletter on how to book these in the 80's or early 90's.


You might be thinking of good old Joe Sent Me/BizTravelLife by Joe Brancatelli

Besides practical tips and ideas, he sometimes penned diatribes, including the immortal "Why We Hate Airlines and Love Diet Coke":

http://joe.biztravelife.com/97/090897.htm
AN4 A40 L4T TU3 TU5 IL6 ILW I93 F50 F70 100 146 ARJ AT7 DH4 L10 CRJ ERJ E90 E95 DC-9 MD-8X YK4 YK2 SF3 S20 319 320 321 332 333 343 346 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 744 74M 757 767 777
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ncflyer
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:59 pm

usdcaguy wrote:
Of all the carriers, UA is the most likely to create a police state. Their puny carry-on allowance (personal-item-only allowance) for basic economy is unreal, and you can't even get your boarding pass until an agent has looked at your personal item BEFORE you go through security


The irony here is that basic economy fare pax are more expensive to process for UA than regular economy.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:00 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Simple, cancel the remainder of the trip, so you have to buy another ticket and don’t refund you on the first ticket. If bad enough, refuse to do business with you. Now, will they do that? I doubt it.


GF


Any airline who does that to a customer will lose that customer for sure. It'll create a lot of bad publicity which will scare away even more customers. In the end, the airlines might be better off just accepting a number of passengers traveling to hidden cities and letting them go. They might lose money on that, but at least they keep those passengers flying their airline and they avoid bad publicity. That's worth more than the few bucks they lose on hidden cities.
 
Aliqiout
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:01 pm

No one said anything about forcing anyone to take a flight. What airlines usually do when they discover a hidden city ticket user is demand that flyer pay the price difference or loose all their miles and be banned for life. Of course there are more extreme responses like LH's current court case.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:05 pm

LAXBUR wrote:
I understand an airline’s frustration with this. But at the same time it may cost them more to pursue this all while giving the issue more attention which also won’t benefit the airline.


Very right. If an airline is in the news for chasing customers for hidden ticketing, I would think twice before booking at that airline. If another airline, that isn't in the news for this, offers a good deal then I'm likely to book on that airline. Then the airline that chases customers for hidden ticketing just lost a customer. If they ask for too much, they end up with nothing.
 
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UPlog
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:15 pm

ITSTours wrote:
What would the carrier lose if a customer throw aways the ticket?

Nothing materially. In fact they would use less fuel or they can accommodate an extra standby passengers.


One customer here or there does not matter, but if such tactic was to become more significant (and UA says it's on the rise), it destroys the entire pricing model and takes up seats that could very well be sold at higher profit.
For example, if a large volume of customers were to book cheaper ORD-SFO-SNA as the article cites while really intending to go to SFO, UA loses the ability to sell a higher fare on ORD-SFO segment which creates a revenue loss while also tying up SFO-SNA inventory.

Tactic throws out the entire inventory and revenue management model out the door if it were to occur in large enough volume.

ScottB wrote:
Consumers aren't responsible for the airline pricing model. The airline is perfectly free to NOT price the longer journey lower than the shorter one, thus avoiding this issue entirely.


Except consumers hated distance-based pricing when tried on a large scale by folks like AA.
Last edited by UPlog on Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
ethernal
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:15 pm

United is welcome to do what they wish, but persecuting hidden city ticketing is not going to win United any favors. For the average consumer, the idea of getting in "trouble" for not consuming a service that you have paid for borders on insanity. The average consumer won't view hidden city ticketing as unethical or wrong; they'll view the airline as unethical for what they would perceive as unjustifiable pricing.

And, quite frankly. consumers are right. Married segment city-pair pricing (which enables hidden city ticketing) is merely an attempt at price discrimination and reducing consumer surplus (in return for producer surplus, and in the process also creating some deadweight loss as well where everyone loses). Indeed, by encouraging people to take connecting itineraries, airlines actually increase the total cost to serve and make all of society worse off - and the environment too.

Of course it is more nuanced than that with cross-subsidization and being able to expand a larger network which ultimately helps consumers (more frequency, better balancing of loads, and so on) - but it's still ultimately primarily an attempt to extract incremental revenue from customers.

United can set its terms, and it can of course revoke frequent flyer program status or bad you from flying them. But no court in the Western world would actually allow retroactive revenue extraction from a consumer due to hidden city ticketing - which is why these things are never taken to court. The fact that Lufthansa filed a suit against someone for this is some strange mix of insanity, incompetence, and a degree of rigidity in thinking only a German could embrace.

I am all for freedom of contracting, but unilateral agreements between consumers and large corporations rightfully do not get the same full latitudes private contracts between two equal parties (whether two individuals or two large corporations) do - and for good reason.

Anyways, good luck to United. They've been doing such great things as of late, but perhaps old habits die hard. Then again, this seems to come up every now and again across all of the airlines - so it's not really news.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:19 pm

UPlog wrote:
“This practice can potentially offer discounts on airfare and [is] not aligned with United’s contract of carriage,” the airline told airport customer service workers. “As the practice grows, we need to ensure that we’re both supporting our customers and properly enforcing the contract of carriage rules and United policies.”


United is referring to their contract of carriage, however it's possible that contract of carriage is at odds with the law. If this is the case, United has nothing to stand on if they try this. The law prevails over the contract of carriage and if the law says it is legal to buy a product and consume only part of it while throwing away the rest, then hidden cities would be legal no matter what the contract of carriage says.

There are already several court cases going on about this in Europe, however the outcome of a court case can be different in America. Europe is usually more protective over customer rights and therefor more likely to allow hidden cities. In America on the other hand it seems like they never heard of customer rights.
 
77H
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:24 pm

usdcaguy wrote:
Of all the carriers, UA is the most likely to create a police state. Their puny carry-on allowance (personal-item-only allowance) for basic economy is unreal, and you can't even get your boarding pass until an agent has looked at your personal item BEFORE you go through security. So unless you have a lot of dough and have a job that allows you to fly a lot and become an elite, UA assumes you're a criminal. This is just another step in profiting from poor people who can't afford the egregious prices the carrier is charging. Reporting customers to "corporate security" is simply wrong and tantamount to a Stalinist state security system. They're way too desperate to catch up to DL, who allows a free standard carry-on in basic economy.


Holy hyperbole Batman. In order to successfully establish a “police state”, you have to have a monopoly. The United States in many ways is police state, because they have a monopoly on power through regulation and the enforcement of it. You cannot choose to not participate in the power structure.

No one has to fly on United, and as many point out, UA lags it’s competitors in the domestic market so there are very few destinations that can be reached by flying them alone. Don’t like their basic economy rules? Fly someone else. Don’t like their pricing structure ? Fly someone else. Don’t like their decision to enforce their contract of carriage, well you get it.

All that said, UA needs to tread lightly here. Asking front line employees to get involved could go very bad, very quickly, especially at UA where perceptions of customer service are predominately negative already. IMO, UA should be using technology to track down those it suspects are using violating its CoC.

UA can already tell if a customer doesn’t make their next leg in a multi-leg itinerary. Flag the PNR and customer information. If the customer books another ticket on UA, an alert can be sent to CorpSec where they can look for similar patterns. CorpSec can monitor progress of travel and intervene if it appears the customer will attempt a hidden city scheme again. I’d suggest a 3 strike plan. Write the first off as a coincidence but monitor. Second instance establishes a pattern. 3rd time customer buys a multi leg ticket, Implement enforcement and remediation there after.

I personally think front line CS should stay out of it. I can just see some agent on a power trip, trying to catch someone in the act and the results go viral and end in a massive lawsuit. Worst part is, there is now evidence that it was sanctioned by UA Corp Leadership. They won’t be able to claim plausible deniability as they have in other CS failures.

Front line CS is there to provide consistent, quality customer service, and UA hasn’t even achieved that. CorpSec is there to ensure compliance with rules and regulation to protect the company. Allowing “mission creep” never ends well.

77H
 
bob75013
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:24 pm

Just another reason to fly WN.

WN's public stance on the matter is "If you can get a hidden city deal, grab it, and congratulations"

Of course anyone buying hidden city fares better be buying one way tickets.
 
RDUDDJI
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:25 pm

Not sure I'd put a lot of faith in a clickbait article from skift?! I'll wait to actually see said memo.

ITSTours wrote:
What would the carrier lose if a customer throw aways the ticket?


I'll state the obvious. They lose the ability to sell that downline booking, because it's reserved for someone who has no intention of using it.
Last edited by RDUDDJI on Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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flyfresno
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:26 pm

First of all, it's completely up to United to price flights, and it's also up to them whether they allow or disallow this sort of ticketing in their contact of carriage. Yes, it might cause people who use hidden city pairs to not fly them anymore, but if they are losing revenue anyway on those people (I don't know if that's true, just speculating), then they would probably rather not have those people flying on them anyway. On the other hand, I do think it's a bit ridiculous that people are *complaining* that the airline is disallowing and going after people who do this. It's obviously taking advantage of a flaw in the system, and if someone was able to get away with it without getting caught, good for them, but it's just that, taking advantage of the system. This is like someone who buys an unlimited drink cup at a theme park where the rules clearly say "same day only," then brings back that cup back on other days and uses it because the theme park isn't checking who paid that day and who didn't. Eventually, the theme park might choose to crack down on people skirting the system. Patrons might not like it, but the theme park is clearly within their rights to disallow reuse on other days, just like United and other airlines are clearly within their rights to disallow hidden city ticketing.
 
ethernal
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:34 pm

flyfresno wrote:
First of all, it's completely up to United to price flights, and it's also up to them whether they allow or disallow this sort of ticketing in their contact of carriage. Yes, it might cause people who use hidden city pairs to not fly them anymore, but if they are losing revenue anyway on those people (I don't know if that's true, just speculating), then they would probably rather not have those people flying on them anyway. On the other hand, I do think it's a bit ridiculous that people are *complaining* that the airline is disallowing and going after people who do this. It's obviously taking advantage of a flaw in the system, and if someone was able to get away with it without getting caught, good for them, but it's just that, taking advantage of the system.


It is probably better stated that United is taking advantage of the system. They are trying to price discriminate against customers by taking advantage of monopoly pricing power on a nonstop route.

This is like someone who buys an unlimited drink cup at a theme park where the rules clearly say "same day only," then brings back that cup back on other days and uses it because the theme park isn't checking who paid that day and who didn't. Eventually, the theme park might choose to crack down on people skirting the system. Patrons might not like it, but the theme park is clearly within their rights to disallow reuse on other days, just like United and other airlines are clearly within their rights to disallow hidden city ticketing.


This is nothing like that. This is the equivalent of saying "You can use this cup for 10 refills. Oh, but you must use it for 10 refills - not 3, 5, or 8 refills - or else we'll charge you double what you paid."

As I said above, United is free to do what they want in terms of banning customers. But it is just shooting themselves in the foot.

If they want to control hidden city ticketing, then force all fares lower than the non-stop segment to be part of a round-trip. And if your round-trip price is STILL less than the one way nonstop, perhaps just stop essentially insanely abusive pricing practices.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:37 pm

UPlog wrote:
One customer here or there does not matter, but if such tactic was to become more significant (and UA says it's on the rise), it destroys the entire pricing model and takes up seats that could very well be sold at higher profit.
For example, if a large volume of customers were to book cheaper ORD-SFO-SNA as the article cites while really intending to go to SFO, UA loses the ability to sell a higher fare on ORD-SFO segment which creates a revenue loss while also tying up SFO-SNA inventory.

Tactic throws out the entire revenue management model out the door if it were to occur in large enough volume.


Then maybe they should question their pricing model which, in my opinion, has had it's time anyway.

Let's follow your example of customers who book ORD-SFO-SNA and getting off at SFO. If the airline doesn't want them to book the additional SFO-SNA leg with no intention of flying it, they should make ORD-SFO cheaper. They can do that because they can do it with the additional leg to SNA too. So why can't they offer the same price without that additional leg?

UPlog wrote:
Except consumers hated distance-based pricing when tried on a large scale by folks like AA.


Did they? Some maybe, but by far not all of them. There are also a lot of customers who would love distance-based pricing, I'm one of them. I mean, what can be simpler? Each leg has a certain price. Add more legs and the price goes up. Leg price is cost price for the airline. It's totally fool-proof and eliminates the problem of hidden cities.

But like it or not, distance-based pricing is the future. I can see more and more airlines adapting it.
 
77H
Posts: 1461
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:27 pm

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:39 pm

jetmatt777 wrote:
I think a fun policy once a hidden city customer is identified is to upgrade them to F class but on a different routing and see what their reaction is.

“Mr. Smith, we have upgraded you to F today however you will be routed through IAH instead of DEN on your way to LAS.” But I was only trying to get to DEN!


Now this could work !!! I love out side the box thinking like this. The best part about it is it’s nearly fool-proof. As you suggest, the customer is likely to “out” their true intentions before you have to actually follow through on providing the upgrade as it would force them to buy a ticket from LAS to DEN, as in your example, which would cost the customer more and extend travel time.

While some might look on it negatively in that you are essentially tricking your customers, sentiments within the court of public opinion will likely side with the airline when they learn that this is a way for them to harmlessly catch customers violating policy. The only potentially downside is you may have customers purposefully doing this to catch an upgrade.

For example: customer purposefully employs hidden city scheme on 1 or more trips to get on a “watch list” customer books 3rd trip with every intention of flying the full itinerary. Airline tells customer they are changing their routing but with an upgrade. Customer now gets free first class service to a destination they intended to travel to on that particular trip.

77H
 
jplatts
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:42 pm

UPlog wrote:
One customer here or there does not matter, but if such tactic was to become more significant (and UA says it's on the rise), it destroys the entire pricing model and takes up seats that could very well be sold at higher profit.
For example, if a large volume of customers were to book cheaper ORD-SFO-SNA as the article cites while really intending to go to SFO, UA loses the ability to sell a higher fare on ORD-SFO segment which creates a revenue loss while also tying up SFO-SNA inventory.


UA actually faces significant nonstop competition on ORD-SFO as AS, AA, WN, and NK all also have nonstop service to the San Francisco Bay Area from Chicago.

UA and AA are the only carriers currently serving SNA nonstop from ORD, and UA and AS are also the only carriers offering 1-stop connecting service to SNA from ORD through SFO. However, AS, WN, and NK all also serve LAX nonstop from Chicago in addition to UA and AA, and WN also offers a few 1-stop connecting options to SNA from MDW through OAK or SJC.

Why can UA charge a price premium for ORD-SFO as opposed to ORD-SFO-SNA if UA faces significant nonstop competition on ORD-SFO and if travelers likely have cheaper nonstop options between Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area on other airlines?

Some of the price-sensitive travelers going between Chicago and San Francisco would also likely consider less expensive nonstop options that do not involve hidden-city ticketing on airlines other than UA.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:43 pm

RDUDDJI wrote:
I'll state the obvious. They lose the ability to sell that downline booking, because it's reserved for someone who has no intention of using it.


Of course they lose the ability of selling it because they already sold it. If the customer uses that ticket or not should be irrelevant to the airline. They sold it, they got their money. That's where it ends. Customer has the right, but not the obligation to use it. To the airline this should not make any difference.
 
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LAXintl
Posts: 23834
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:45 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:

Did they? Some maybe, but by far not all of them. There are also a lot of customers who would love distance-based pricing, I'm one of them. I mean, what can be simpler? Each leg has a certain price. Add more legs and the price goes up. Leg price is cost price for the airline. It's totally fool-proof and eliminates the problem of hidden cities.

But like it or not, distance-based pricing is the future. I can see more and more airlines adapting it.


Distance-based pricing, or as some tried zone pricing was a flop in the U.S. because it made things like key and popular transcons more expensive. Gone were the sub $299 round trips.

Seat pricing should always be dynamic and should be based on more important factors like market supply vs demand and inventory management than rigid one-dimensional Soviet price model.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
77H
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:46 pm

ethernal wrote:
flyfresno wrote:
First of all, it's completely up to United to price flights, and it's also up to them whether they allow or disallow this sort of ticketing in their contact of carriage. Yes, it might cause people who use hidden city pairs to not fly them anymore, but if they are losing revenue anyway on those people (I don't know if that's true, just speculating), then they would probably rather not have those people flying on them anyway. On the other hand, I do think it's a bit ridiculous that people are *complaining* that the airline is disallowing and going after people who do this. It's obviously taking advantage of a flaw in the system, and if someone was able to get away with it without getting caught, good for them, but it's just that, taking advantage of the system.


It is probably better stated that United is taking advantage of the system. They are trying to price discriminate against customers by taking advantage of monopoly pricing power on a nonstop route.

This is like someone who buys an unlimited drink cup at a theme park where the rules clearly say "same day only," then brings back that cup back on other days and uses it because the theme park isn't checking who paid that day and who didn't. Eventually, the theme park might choose to crack down on people skirting the system. Patrons might not like it, but the theme park is clearly within their rights to disallow reuse on other days, just like United and other airlines are clearly within their rights to disallow hidden city ticketing.


This is nothing like that. This is the equivalent of saying "You can use this cup for 10 refills. Oh, but you must use it for 10 refills - not 3, 5, or 8 refills - or else we'll charge you double what you paid."

As I said above, United is free to do what they want in terms of banning customers. But it is just shooting themselves in the foot.

If they want to control hidden city ticketing, then force all fares lower than the non-stop segment to be part of a round-trip. And if your round-trip price is STILL less than the one way nonstop, perhaps just stop essentially insanely abusive pricing practices.


Name me one nonstop route or market that UA has a monopoly on ? The only one that readily comes to mind is ITO which is only served by UA.

If UA doesn’t have a monopoly then you have the choice to fly someone else which means UA cannot take advantage of the system as you state.

77H
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:49 pm

flyfresno wrote:
and it's also up to them whether they allow or disallow this sort of ticketing in their contact of carriage.


Very doubtful, it might be at odds with the law. If the law says customers are free to consume only part of their bought product, that would allow hidden cities no matter what United puts in it's contract of carriage. After all, the contract of carriage should be within the law. If it isn't, it just doesn't apply.

However from what I understood the law is a big vague about this.
 
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airzim
Posts: 1414
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:49 pm

I plan to do this in a few weeks with my family. I booked a great fare in long haul J which involves 6 legs with segments 2-4 operated by a Star carrier on that airline’s ticket stock. However I want to skip the last leg (leg 6) on UA and I’ve booked a separate ticket on another carrier for the following day to get to another destination.

I’m crediting to MileagePlus. Since leg 5 involves an entry in the US, I don’t have to worry about the bags going on the final flight. We plan just to clear C&I and walk out of the terminal. Should I let them know I’m going to no-show? Can make an excuse about being sick. Or just have 4 people no show and cross my fingers? Just curious what folks think.
 
ethernal
Posts: 90
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Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:51 pm

77H wrote:
Name me one nonstop route or market that UA has a monopoly on ? The only one that readily comes to mind is ITO which is only served by UA.


You're joking, right?

SFO to.. pretty much any smaller market. I don't think AA, DL, or WN fly SFO-Tuscon for example.

I'm obviously talking about monopoly on nonstop routes, not the only airline to service the station.
 
bob75013
Posts: 882
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:05 pm

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:51 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
UPlog wrote:
One customer here or there does not matter, but if such tactic was to become more significant (and UA says it's on the rise), it destroys the entire pricing model and takes up seats that could very well be sold at higher profit.
For example, if a large volume of customers were to book cheaper ORD-SFO-SNA as the article cites while really intending to go to SFO, UA loses the ability to sell a higher fare on ORD-SFO segment which creates a revenue loss while also tying up SFO-SNA inventory.

Tactic throws out the entire revenue management model out the door if it were to occur in large enough volume.


Then maybe they should question their pricing model which, in my opinion, has had it's time anyway.

Let's follow your example of customers who book ORD-SFO-SNA and getting off at SFO. If the airline doesn't want them to book the additional SFO-SNA leg with no intention of flying it, they should make ORD-SFO cheaper. They can do that because they can do it with the additional leg to SNA too. So why can't they offer the same price without that additional leg?

.


Because the competition won't let them do it. I can probably fly DFW - SNA nonstop on American. I can't do that on United. I can fly DFW- SFO - SNA on United. American can try to "poach" United's customers on the routing by offering a lower fare - so United matches it. Well, if that fare happens to be lower than the DFW- SFO routing, hello hidden city.
 
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airzim
Posts: 1414
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2001 7:40 am

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:53 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
RDUDDJI wrote:
I'll state the obvious. They lose the ability to sell that downline booking, because it's reserved for someone who has no intention of using it.


Of course they lose the ability of selling it because they already sold it. If the customer uses that ticket or not should be irrelevant to the airline. They sold it, they got their money. That's where it ends. Customer has the right, but not the obligation to use it. To the airline this should not make any difference.


I believe the airline cannot recognize the revenue if the coupon is not collected if you noshow a segment. They have the cash but can’t book it until something like a year later. So I’ve been told.
 
slowrambler
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:07 pm

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:54 pm

PatrickZ80 wrote:
RDUDDJI wrote:
I'll state the obvious. They lose the ability to sell that downline booking, because it's reserved for someone who has no intention of using it.


Of course they lose the ability of selling it because they already sold it. If the customer uses that ticket or not should be irrelevant to the airline. They sold it, they got their money. That's where it ends. Customer has the right, but not the obligation to use it. To the airline this should not make any difference.


The whole point is that they sold it but didn't get their money - getting their money would mean the customer bought the more expensive ORD-SFO.

No sane network airline can avoid pricing like this. You charge a premium where you offer something additional - nonstops, frequency, whatever - and less when you're just one of many options. But this means that connections tend to cost less.
 
ethernal
Posts: 90
Joined: Mon May 06, 2019 12:09 pm

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:57 pm

airzim wrote:
PatrickZ80 wrote:
RDUDDJI wrote:
I'll state the obvious. They lose the ability to sell that downline booking, because it's reserved for someone who has no intention of using it.


Of course they lose the ability of selling it because they already sold it. If the customer uses that ticket or not should be irrelevant to the airline. They sold it, they got their money. That's where it ends. Customer has the right, but not the obligation to use it. To the airline this should not make any difference.


I believe the airline cannot recognize the revenue if the coupon is not collected if you noshow a segment. They have the cash but can’t book it until something like a year later. So I’ve been told.


This is nonsensical and inaccurate, at least in most typical cases. The value of the dropped segment is usually trivial and below any subsequent change fees. There is nothing that would stop them from recognizing the revenue after a week when it is clear that they are not taking the flight and the airline's obligations are extinguished.

I do not know about the instance where the last segment exceeds the change fee, but I imagine that this would be a very rare situation.
 
mzlin
Posts: 115
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:32 am

Re: United going after hidden-city travellers

Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:58 pm

[quote="ethernal"][/quote] the funniest and most intelligent post of the thread so far :thumbsup:
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