Even 10 years ago, you couldn't use the fake name to get on the airplane. I think he used fake names to as a placeholder for the seat and then show up with whomever.
Correct, I'm not saying he used a fake name to get on the plane but, just as you say, to hold a place for an unknown traveler.
Booking a placeholder then canceling at the last minute can cost the airline money by having to let the fare go at a last minute lower price or leave the seat empty on what would have otherwise been a full flight.
Delta lists fraudulent, fictitious and speculative bookings in the same category of policy violation.http://www.delta.com/legal/agency_polic ... s_faqs.jsp
I'm not saying he violated any part of the original golden ticket agreement but it does seem like he must have been violating some of the basic airline booking policies.
I still say it's a cheesy way to get out of the contract but he had a good run so he's got nothing to complain about.