Fraudulent used a more expensive service, you said, How so? Which part of the service is more expensive? Is the water being served different, more expensive? Does the seat change? More fuel used?Different air? Do you get different food? What makes this more expensive?
Ummm, yeah, slow clap. You talking about *airline* costs, those are irrelevant in this equation, airlines don't use a "cost +" model (very few vendors do). Please try to follow along.
Filght XXX-YYY is say $500 one-way. Flight XXX-YYY-ZZZ is $300. If customer pays $300 to travel XXX-YYY-ZZZ, but intentionally only flies XXX-YYY, the airline has lost $200. It really is that simple. I can't believe I had to explain this, again.
Then like I said, the airline potentially loses the chance to sell the YYY-ZZZ seat that the cust never intended to use.
The YYY-ZZZ seat is a red herring and even under the strictest and most airline favor interpretation has no bearing. The only interpretation that has any relevance is XXX-YYY. The reason is that this was real demand
. A passenger wanted to fly from XXX-YYY - that was demand that was in the marketplace. YYY-ZZZ never had that demand, and therefore the counterfactual (OP not flying that leg) has no economic , financial, or legal relevance. Of course in the first event, if the passenger bought XXX-YYY, then yes, United could have sold another YYY-ZZZ ticket. But United voluntarily foreclosed on that option when they sold the ticket and more importantly, that demand never existed and, therefore, there is no loss. United would not have sold that YYY-ZZZ ticket at a higher price, or if they could have, they should not have sold the passenger XXX-YYY-ZZZ.
The reason why YYY-ZZZ matters is because there was real demand that could have
bought the ticket but instead bought the hidden-city ticket instead. The fundamental question is whether or not the passenger would have
bought the YYY-ZZZ ticket at the price and terms listed. This is where proving damages becomes extremely difficult. Would the passenger have bought it? Maybe, or maybe not. Perhaps they would have flown another carrier, or perhaps they would not have taken the flight at all because it was just too expensive.
Since there are no liquidated damages referenced in the contract of carriage (at least from the passenger's side), there is absolutely no way a court would ever rule in the airline's favor here - especially in a unilateral adhesion contract.
So whine all you want about it being "unfair" or some strained definition of "theft" or material fraud, but given the grey area that the airlines operate in (schedule changes, overbooking, and so on), what matters is what is legal and what is supported by courts and regulatory bodies. And the answer here is that, for all intents and purposes, hidden city ticketing is perfectly legal (at least in the US).
This is no more or less "theft" or "unfair" than an airline doing a material schedule change. Sure, they'll rebook you on another itinerary for free, but it may be inferior. Or they will give you a refund and tell you to go rebook another airline. But, oh, wait, now comparable tickets are 50% more expensive than they were before. Is the airline going to compensate me for that loss? No, they won't. Just because the unilateral adhesion contract protects the airline in every way imaginable doesn't somehow make this "better" from a moral or legal perspective. There is just as much ground (and to be clear, there isn't much ground at all) - if not more - to sue United under the guise of promissory estoppel or similar for selling a ticket that they schedule change on that results in me incurring additional costs than there is for United to sue a passenger for hidden city ticketing.
As I said before, good luck to United. They are free to do what they wish as it relates to allowing passengers to do hidden city ticketing or not - whether that is revoking frequent flyer status or banning them from flying. But making claims that hidden city ticketing is theft from the airline, material fraud, or would be considered illegal in a criminal case or result in damages in a civil case is just nonsensical.
Last edited by ethernal
on Fri Aug 02, 2019 2:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.