22-year-old airfare whiz raises thousands in fight with United Airlines, Orbitz
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The airfare wiz kid who got sued by United Airlines and Orbitz is not alone in his fight.
More than 1,600 donors have contributed $33,000 on GoFundMe by Wednesday morning to pay the legal expenses of 22-year-old Aktarer Zaman, founder of the airfare advice site Skiplagged.com.
Zaman said he appreciates the financial support and “all the positive things everyone has been saying about what I’m doing.”
Skiplagged’s sole purpose has always been to help you become savvy travelers. We have been doing that by exposing pricing inefficiencies for air travel, among other things. Unfortunately, we have been doing too good of a job so United Airlines and Orbitz recently teamed up with a lawsuit to get in the way. Everything Skiplagged has done and continues to do is legal, but the only way to effectively prove this is with lawyers. Please show your support for Skiplagged by donating towards this campaign to help fund our legal team.
A computer scientist at a New York technology start-up, Zaman has become famous after media coverage of a lawsuit filed against his site by United Airlines and its travel agency partner Orbitz.
The two travel companies say he’s providing “unfair competition” and promoting “strictly prohibited” travel.
But Zaman (pictured here) said he hasn’t done anything illegal and is only helping people find cheap tickets using publicly available information.
His site Skiplagged.com finds cheap flights by using a strategy called “hidden city” ticketing. Some flights are cheaper if travelers buy tickets to a third destination with the intention of getting off at the layover airport. If travelers use this strategy, they have to buy a one-way ticket and cannot check their bags.
United is suing Zaman for $75,000 in lost revenue.
Zaman said he has no intention of shutting down his web site.
“Giving in to pressure from big corporations will be a bad precedent that I hope to avoid for as long as I can,” he said.
Zaman said he hasn’t paid legal fees yet but is worried about the potential of a big bill.
“Working with experienced lawyers who bill hourly can easily push the cost to several hundreds of thousands if this goes all the way to trial,” he said. “I’m hoping it won’t be that extreme as I definitely won’t win a battle of money.”