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Is it illegal to skiplag to bail on a CLT flight? Here’s why you should think twice

Booking flights out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport can be expensive, but you can use “skiplagging” to save money on airfare.

Skiplagging is when passengers book cheaper flights with layovers, then get off at one of the stops and skip the final legs of their trips. Here’s an example reported by the news program NPR:

“Say a passenger wants to travel from New York to Charlotte, but the nonstop route is pricey. So, instead, they book a cheaper flight that takes them from New York to Denver, with a layover in Charlotte. Rather than fly all the way to Denver, they simply get off in North Carolina and ditch the rest of the ticket.”

A Reddit user recently posted in a Charlotte subreddit asking whether others have tried skiplagging to save money on flights.

“Has anyone done this in CLT recently?” the poster asked. “Gotten off instead of going to your final destination? I don’t want to do it if it’s going to get me into any trouble or fined.”

Is skiplagging illegal?

Skiplagging is not illegal, but major airlines are trying to crack down on the practice.

Last month, American Airlines filed a lawsuit against Skiplagged, a website that offers cheaper airfares for passengers, claiming their practices are “deceptive and abusive,” NPR reported.

“Skiplagged deceives the public into believing that the American fares it displays will give the consumer access to some kind of secret “loophole,” the lawsuit says. “But many of the fares displayed on Skiplagged’s website are higher than what the consumer would pay if they simply booked a ticket on American’s website or through an actual authorized agent of American.”

The method can also hurt an airline’s bottom line.

NPR reported that airlines lose money if passengers skiplag since they can’t fill empty seats on the final leg of a trip if the seat is already booked.

What are the risks of skiplagging?

While skiplagging is not a crime, it can result in bans from major airlines.

In July, American Airlines banned a teenager from flying with the airline for three years after he booked a flight from Gainesville, Florida, to New York City with a layover in Charlotte, where he lives, Insider reported.

The teen was detained at the Gainesville airport and questioned by security officers after they saw his North Carolina driver’s license, Insider reported. The teen’s parents were forced to swap the $150 ticket they originally booked for a direct flight that cost more than $400.

Passengers can also cancel their return trips on round-trip flights and risk losing any bags they checked.