United Airlines, Orbitz Team Up to Shut Down 22-Year-Old's Travel Website

Airplane at LaGuardia Airport in New York on December 24, 2014. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

What has both United Airlines and Orbitz suing a 22-year-old New Yorker?

Last year he created a website called Skiplagged.com, which helps customers search for cheap flights using a strategy long known to those in the industry as "hidden city" ticketing—finding a flight that has a layover in your desired destination and not continuing on for the last leg of your journey.

Let's say you want to fly from New York to Atlanta but when you go to make your purchase, the tickets are nearly $500. Aktarer Zaman's site would let you know that if you were to book a flight from New York to Los Angeles that has a layover in Atlanta, you'd be saving more than $300.

Hidden city ticketing, of course, has its limitations. The trick doesn't provide a cheaper option for every trip. It also works only with one-way tickets because airlines will cancel the rest of your itinerary if you fail to check in for one of your flights. Lastly, you can't check your bags if you are going to dip out on part of your journey because they will continue on without you. While hidden city ticketing isn't illegal, it is heavily frowned upon by airlines.

The lawsuit, filed by United and Orbitz against Zaman in November, says, "Defendant Zaman...has used his website to intentionally and maliciously interfere with Plaintiffs' contracts and business relations in the airline industry and in doing so has falsely associated Skiplagged with Orbitz and United. By promoting prohibited forms of travel on Skiplagged, Zaman has induced breach of Orbitz Worldwide's travel agency contracts with commercial airlines and of United's customer contractual relationships." The companies are also suing Zaman for $75,000 in lost revenue.

While Zaman expected the lawsuit, he asserts that his site is completely legal. Not only does it just provide information to travelers—it does not actually book tickets—but he is not making a profit.

"I haven't made any money from this," Zaman told CBS News. "This is privately funded through my own funds."

Zaman was born in Bangladesh and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated only a few years ago from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a degree in computer science. He has a full-time job working for a technology startup and runs Skiplagged as just a side project—one that he is not going to give up easily.

Now when you visit Skiplagged, a banner at the top of the website reads "United Airlines and Orbitz recently filed a lawsuit that can force us to remove results only we find, getting in the way of saving you lots of money on airfare. Please support Skiplagged by donating to our legal fund here. Thank you!"

So far, Skiplagged had collected nearly $13,000 of its $15,000 goal.