For those of you who don’t remember Aktarer Zaman, he was the 22-year-old targeted in a legal lawsuit filed by two giant travel corporations Orbitz and United Airlines. Zaman, now 23, is known for launching Skiplagged, a site and app that helps travelers get in on a little known secret of finding cheap flights.
Skiplagged utilizes a method called “hidden city” ticketing that finds flights with layovers in a traveler’s target destination. Instead of flying the full itinerary, travelers get off at their layover and forego the last leg of the trip. This strategy of traveling is oftentimes cheaper than flying directly to a final destination.
Of course United and Orbitz weren’t too happy about this. The two corporations worth billions accused Skiplagged of being “unfair competition” and demanded Zaman fess up $75,000 in lost revenue.
Zaman told CNN Money looking back that he was a uncertain what his next step was going to be. He said:
“I was not optimistic that I could take on the legal fight. I was a little afraid. I wasn’t sure what to do.”
Mustering up his courage, the 22-year-old decided to take on the challenge head on. He wrote a letter to consumers regarding his situation on the page of his GoFundMe campaign. Though he originally asked for $10,000 to pay for legal fees, Zaman wound up with $81,000 from eager supporters.
Collaborating with his lawyers, Zaman told CNN Money that they realized United’s case had a weak spot. The airline’s case was made based on the claim that Skiplagged violated a “contract of carriage.” However, that contract applied to passengers and airlines and not third parties like Skiplagged.
Orbitz settled with Zaman in February of this year, but United was persistent. Finally in May, a judge in Chicago dismissed United’s case due to the fact that Skiplagged isn’t in his jurisdiction. United sued in the state of Illinois, but Skiplagged is headquartered in New York. United decided not to pursue any further legal action.
Zaman skipped for joy and wrote in the headline of his website:
“We’re so good, United Airlines actually sued us for it.”
Reflecting on his journey, Zaman said:
“It’s been a fun journey. Looking back it’s been a very interesting experience that most people don’t get to experience.”
His site is booming and is now receiving 1 million visitors a month on average compared to 250,000 visitors a month last year. Skiplagged is one of the most downloaded travel apps in Apple’s store.
Zaman has since hired two full-time engineers to the company and rented an office space in Manhattan thanks from funding from angel investors. The extra money from his Go Fund Me campaign will be donated to charity related to travel in the early half of next year, according to Zaman.
The 23-year-old says he takes no profit from Skiplagged and doesn’t plan to sell it. Zaman simply wants to help travelers get good deals on flights. He said of Skiplagged:
“I’m just providing people with information and making them more informed. I never saw that as a bad thing, making people be more skilled travelers.”