Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lufthansa sues passenger for skipping flight (February 2019)

Skiplagging: Savvy Flyers Only

Many people everyday go on flights to get to an intended destination. For some people, flying can be a very common thing that is implemented into their lives and careers that they will try to do whatever they can to save money. For some sneaky flyers, a loophole has been created that can help them find the cheapest airfare tickets available, and that is what Lufthansa Airlines, a German airline is currently suing an unnamed passenger for using a loophole technique known as Skiplagging.

Skiplagging is defined as “a money-saving method where passengers leave their flight at a layover instead of the final destination”(Morris). The unnamed passenger had purchased a ticket from Lufthansa and was supposed to fly to Oslo from Seattle via Frankfurt in April of 2016, but when he got to Frankfurt, he skipped the connecting flight to Oslo and went to Berlin on a separate ticket. By doing this, he saved money of about 657 euros, which is the American equivalent of $743. By using this technique, the unnamed passenger saved money with the price of the two tickets he purchased then purchasing a nonstop flight from Seattle to Berlin, which was his intended destination all along.

This isn't the first time that this technique has been brought to the courts. in 2015, creator of Aktarer Zaman was sued by United Airlines for using the skiplagging technique.In an article for, it states “In February, Orbitz backed out of the case and settled with Zaman, but United kept pursuing it. In May, a judge in Chicago dismissed the case because Skiplagged wasn't in his jurisdiction. United didn't pursue further legal action”(Gillespie). As for outside people looking into this case, many people don't see anything wrong with flyers using the skiplagging technique. In a article for, it states “So, are passengers gaming a system stacked against them? After all, the airline offered the seat at a given price and received that price. The New York Times’ Ethicist column saw no problem with skiplagging. Commenters agreed, with one concluding making a purchase does not oblige you to use it”(Creedy).

Although the case was thrown away for Lufthansa not giving full information as to why they were charging the unnamed passenger with the amount of money that his ticket had cost plus interest, Lufthansa is attempting to appeal the case and the reason why could be very sneaky on their behalf. An article by states that the new management for Oslo Gardermoen airport has made it its goal to bring in more tourists to the area from Asia, as well as North America. It states “Despite the goals for Asian growth, the larger expansion opportunity for Oslo is in the North American market. While Oslo would like to see North American carriers enter Oslo, Norwegian Air Shuttle growth has been large, and provoked a growth response from SAS”( This statement on the website shows that Oslo airport’s new management has a goal to bring in more of a North American market to their airport, bringing in more tourism for their city. If Lufthansa were to have a partnership with the airport and were to have some sort of financial agreement that they receive money from them for bringing in more North American tourism, then this could explain why Lufthansa is still pursuing this case due to Oslo not paying them because they did not successfully bring the passenger who skipped the second leg of his flight.In an article for, it states “According to German court documents, the case was thrown out because the airline failed to fully explain how it had arrived at the compensation figure of €2,112 (£1,852)”(Ibbetson). Failing to explain how they had arrived at the compensation figure that they were suing the man for could prove that Lufthansa was attempting to receive money that they had lost from Oslo due to the passenger not flying into their airport, which loses tourism for the city.

Although many different people use and take the risk of facing these issues every time they use the loophole website, the main stakeholders that affected in this case are Lufthansa Airlines, and the unnamed passenger that is being sued. These stakeholders are affected by different aspects of the case, and the following four ethical theories of Individualism, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory will be explained in the following paragraphs.

Individualism brings an interesting look into this case and how the ethical theory is applied to the stakeholders. Individualism is defined as everyone being able to pursue their own interests, but no one has the right to make their choices for other people. This is a very interesting way to look at how Lufthansa should be looking at the case, because they should not be upset and angry that their passengers are utilizing the skiplagging technique because they are pursuing their own interests and doing what is best for them, and have the right for no one else to say that anything is wrong with it. This is a very important point to make with the case regarding individualism, because Lufthansa is simply suing the passenger because he violated the terms and conditions that Lufthansa set out, but the passenger has the right to pursue his own interests of skipping the second leg of the flight according to individualism. A second portion of individualism that is very crucial to looking at is Milton Friedman’s view of Individualism and how it plays into Lufthansa Airlines. Friedman believed that the only goal of a business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business has is to maximize their profit and they are attempting to do this by suing the passenger for the amount of the second leg of the flight he skipped plus interest. This is a very crucial point to bring up, because from Friedman’s view of Individualism, Lufthansa is doing nothing wrong by wanting to maximize their profit from the unnamed passenger but then again according to individualism, the unnamed passenger is entitled to make their own choices without anyone else saying it is wrong.

Utilitarianism brings in another strong interpretation of the case, and whether or not both sides of the case are acting ethical. Utilitarianism is viewed as all actions that are done by someone are aiming at something that is good, and that we are seeking things because they make us happy. By completing things in certain ways, this will maximize everyone's happiness with something in the short and long term. For the different stakeholders that are involved, both sides maximized their happiness in different ways. For the passenger, he is maximizing his happiness by using the skiplagging website, without worrying about any repercussions being put against him for using the technique. This is going to maximize the passengers happiness, because he is able to use the skiplagging technique and get off scotch free. As for Lufthansa, their happiness can be maximized within the case if they were to drop their prices on their flights, so then their passengers don't have to use the skiplagging website. Skiplagging is a money saving alternative, and if Lufthansa were to drop the prices on their flights so that passengers wouldn't have to use this alternative, then their happiness would be maximized as well because passengers would be satisfied with the price of their flights and they wouldn't have passengers skipping legs of flights and not being able to fill in those empty seats.

Kantianism examines this case in a different way then the other ethical theories represented, as it focuses on motivations. Kantianism has four major principles that come into play with this ethical theory and those are defined as act rationally, allow and help people to make rational decisions, respect people and their autonomy, and be motivated by goodwill by seeking to do what is right because it is right. As for looking at Lufthansa Airlines from a Kantian perspective, they are not correctly following the formula of humanity that is represented within Kantian ethics. The formula of humanity explains that you are to act in such a way that you treat humanity, always as an end and never simply as a means. For Lufthansa, their motivation for suing the passenger was because they wanted him to pay the money that he owed them for the leg of the flight that he skipped plus interest. This is ethically wrong from a Kantian perspective, because their motivation is to get the money from the passenger because they believed that he wronged them by utilizing the skiplagging technique, not by doing it because it is the right thing to do. By suing the passenger, Lufthansa is attempting to use this as a scare tactic that will worry other people who use the skiplagging technique that if they attempt this with Lufthansa, there will be consequences.

Finally, Virtue Theory digs into the case and whether or not certain characteristics within the stakeholders apply to the virtue theory.Virtue theory is based on Aristotle's ethics which discussed how people need to exercise rationality in order to function and live good lives. Virtues are defined as characteristics that allow things to function properly that are called “good making features” or “virtues”. As for the different types of character that come into play with virtue theory, four different characteristics were named as Courage, Honesty, Temperance/Self Control, and Justice/Fairness. As for the passenger and Lufthansa airlines, each stakeholder can look at these different types of characteristics and apply them to how they have gone across what we know of to be this case. Courage was displayed by the passenger for using the skiplagging technique as he could've been caught by Lufthansa and put on the flight that he didn't intend to be on, ultimately not bringing him to his real destination. Regarding honesty, this case was unethically correct in this sense of virtue theory because the passenger had agreed to taking the full flight when he signed off on the terms and conditions placed by Lufthansa. When it comes to temperance/self control, no sign of either was shown in this case, eliminating it from discussion. Finally, for justice/fairness, it is unfair to other flyers and the airline that the passenger had skipped the second leg of the flight when the airline was holding the seat for him believing that he was going to board when he planned to not take the second leg of the flight all along. Justice is also shown by Lufthansa because they attempted to sue the passenger since he did not comply to the terms and conditions that they set for him. Virtue theory takes an interesting look on this case, and how the different characteristics come into play with different parts of the case.

When it comes to my personal opinion regarding this case, Lufthansa is acting very unethical and is not going in the right direction in appealing this court case. Yes, they are attempting to appeal so that they can show that they are not going to go down easy with this controversy, but due to them not giving the full reason as to why they are charging the passenger the amount they are, that puts them in a bad spot. If Lufthansa were to come out with the reason why they are charging the passenger for the amount their charging him with, there could be a different result in the case, and possibly end in their favor.

For Lufthansa to bounce back from this controversy and reestablish themselves as a major competitor in their field, they need to follow a certain number of steps to get back to being a well known airline, and I have come up with these different steps. First, Lufthansa needs to make sure that their passengers have not bought another ticket that could conflict with the original ticket that they have purchased, that way they can know for sure whether or not that the passenger will be present. Next, Lufthansa needs to drop their prices on their flights so that they can bring in more passengers directly from their own airline and not from other types of ticket buying sites. If Lufthansa were to center themselves around a mission of providing flyers with a very affordable plane ticket while offering a safe and comfortable environment, then this will raise their profit and bring in more customers to Lufthansa and have them known as one of the best airlines to consider flying with.

To add on to the action plan to get Lufthansa Airlines back on their feet, Lufthansa also needs to take part in some re-marketing for their company. If they come out with fresh, new marketing campaigns that label them as a friendly and affordable airline that the everyday person can afford, then word is going to get out about their brand and how they are a loyal airline carrier. Also, Lufthansa can increase their ethical productivity and monitoring of their ethics by retraining their employees on making sure that people are getting on all the legs of their flights. I also believe that bringing in a new security group under Lufthansa's name that will check if all passengers will be boarding all flights involved in their purchase would be very effective. This would increase security for the airline, and they would also have a little more control ensuring that passengers aren't skipping out on their flights and using the skiplagging technique. This plan is also going to bring in more profit for Lufthansa, as lowering prices will appeal to people with a cheaper budget when it comes to purchasing a flight. For Lufthansa to improve their business and bounce back after this controversy, having a strong action plan of dropping airline prices along with making some improvements to their security systems within airports could be a very effective way of getting them back on the right track with people who use their airline.

By: Connor McDowell

Capa. “Oslo Gardermoen Airport Seeks Asian Flights to Leverage Tourism to Norway; Perhaps the New Iceland.” CAPA - Centre for Aviation, CAPA - Centre for Aviation, 9 Oct. 2016,
Creedy, Kathryn B. “Capital - Skiplagging: The Travel Trick That Airlines Hate.” BBC News, BBC, 26 Feb. 2019,
Gillespie, Patrick. “How a 23-Year-Old Beat United Airlines.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 31 Dec. 2015, 4:01pm,
Ibbetson, Ross. “Lawyer for Man Sued by Lufthansa for Not Using Last Leg of Plane Journey Says Client Will WIN Case.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 13 Feb. 2019,

Morris, Chris. “Lufthansa Is Suing a Passenger for Missing a Flight.” Fortune, Fortune, 2019,

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