CHARLOTT, NC (WJZY) – The flight purchased was from Gainesville, FL to New York with a stopover in Charlotte, NC. The plan was for Hunter Parsons’ teenage son to step off the plane in Charlotte, where he lives, and not continue on to New York.
The practice of booking entire flights but boarding gates is frowned upon in the aviation industry. This is known as hidden ticketing in the city, point outside of ticketing, and skipping the backlog.
And while Parsons says his family has been using the Skip Laagged resource for the past five to eight years, he says he would never have put his son in such a predicament if he had known what was about to happen.
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Hunter says that once at an airport in Florida with a North Carolina driver’s license, the agent at the entrance was skeptical about his son’s final destination.
According to Parsons, his son was “interrogated a bit” before being “taken to the security room”.
“Somehow they got out of him that he was going to cut down [sic] in Charlotte and is not going to make a connecting flight,” Parsons senior told WJZY Nexstar. It was then that an American Airlines representative reportedly canceled the ticket and forced the family to buy a new direct flight ticket.
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Aviation attorney Bruce Brandon says the alleged interaction seems a bit harsh.
“He’s flying for the first time and he really doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Brandon said after listening to some of the interactions. “… I just don’t understand why they [American Airlines] would do it.”
In a statement to WJZY, American Airlines said: “Purchasing a ticket without the intention of flying on all flights to obtain lower fares (hidden city ticketing) is a violation of American Airlines terms and conditions and is set out in our Online Conditions of Carriage. Our customer success team contacted the client to learn more about their experience.”
Other major airlines such as Delta and United are also banning hidden ticket sales in cities. Even Skip Lagged warns that there could be repercussions from hidden ticketing in the city, like your checked baggage moving to your final destination instead of where you’re staying, or losing your frequent flyer miles. The site also warns against “overuse” of hidden city tickets.
Airlines are cracking down on stealth ticket sales in cities, Brandon said. In 2018, the German carrier Lufthansa filed a lawsuit against the passenger, but later dropped it. Brandon thinks there’s a bigger question to be answered.
“Was it a security issue or was it a contract issue?” Brandon added. “He was held against his will in that back room?”
When asked what he would like to see happen, Parsons told WJZY that he wished his son had received a “severe warning” but that “putting a minor in such a situation was really the reason we’re concerned.”
An airline spokesman told WJZY that they did not know the teenager had been detained in Florida and that the company hoped to speak to the Parsons as part of the ongoing investigation.