How To Get 80% Off Your Air Travel

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As many of you know I live in Lincoln, Ne.  My partner in ShoeMoney Capital,  David Dellanave,  lives in Minneapolis and also we host all of our servers there. Once a month either I am traveling to Minneapolis or he is flying here.   Northwest has a hub in Minneapolis so we are able to get direct flights there and its only about a 40 minute ride so its a nice direct flight.

Unfortunately for this round trip 40 minute flight it costs usually about $800-1200.  Crazy huh?  Then 2 years ago when we started working with 9 time welterweight champion of the world Matt Hughes I started to fly to St. Louis and to my amazement it only cost $180 to fly from Lincoln Nebraska to Minneapolis to St Louis.  I quickly looked up the exact same flight from just Lincoln To Minneapolis and it was $1170. 

Let me show you an example:

Yesterday when I wrote this I was looking at flights to Minneapolis today (and also inspired me to write this post).

(click to enlarge)

As you can see here it costs $1,004.66 for a round trip ticket.

Lets look at the same exact flight but adding a EXTRA leg to St. Louis:

Thats right its only $603.72 cents. A savings of over $400 by adding on the extra trip to St. Louis.

Now I know what your thinking… this is a last minute booking and something weird happens… Ok I will show you one with plenty of time and with more “normal pricing” that we see.

In this screenshot you can see its a month

The price : $805.59

Lets add the same flights again but with a extra leg to St. Louis:

$165.58 That is like a 83% discount!

So basically I have been doing this for 2 years and have saved atleast $20,000.00. All I do is not take the leg to St. Louis. So when its going from LNK -> MSP -> STL I just stop at msp and on the way back when it goes STL -> MSP -> LNK I just get on at MSP (Minneapolis). Northwest has never once canceled our flights because we have not gotten on.

What is going on here?

I am actually pretty proud of myself for finding this loop hole but because I have a big mouth whenever I find talkative flight attendants I tell them what I am doing. You know what? They tell me they tell their friends to do the same thing! They say the reason it works is because the Northwest hub is located in Minneapolis they totally gouge all the direct flights to and from MSP. They also tell me its a huge problem because they end up with a lot of flights with empty seats.

What about other airlines?

So its probably just Northwest that does this? WRONG. I do the same thing with United. A direct flight from Lincoln to Chicago costs about $900 but lets say I goto NYC its only $350. This is again because Chicago is a hub for United.

Now with united every time I have tried this they have canceled my return flight BUT they quickly rebook it when I tell them what I did (and the look at me all pissy).

So check it out from your area especially if you are flying direct into a major hub for an airline and you might find a massive discount.

107 thoughts on “How To Get 80% Off Your Air Travel

      1. Legit Work From Home Jobs

        Wow, thanks for that add! I was trying to go to U.S. virgin islands recently and I already got a good deal from, but does this offer work with travel packages? If so, I could stay at the islands for like 7 days and pay under $300! :)

  1. Internet Marketing Access

    When it comes to flying I always look for a cheaper deal, even if it involves having an extra stop. Now if the price gap is only like $50 then I will take the direct flight. In this case the gap is HUGE and a hell of a find. I did not realize that Dave was not in Nebraska, this outta save you guys a good chunk of change come the end of the year.

  2. River Girl

    Tried many years ago with USAir and they wouldn’t honor the return ticket, so never tried again. I have the exact same problem from where I live. Maybe I should try again……

  3. Michael Kwan

    Wow, that’s a very strange loophole. It’s weird that there’s no penalty for skipping out on your flight, but I guess since you “paid” for it, they don’t care.

  4. Travis

    80% of travel or 80% OFF travel?

    Anyway, now all you have to do is figure out a way to sell that extra ticket and make a little extra cash on the side. :-)

  5. Tom

    Just don’t forget what you are doing – then check your bags – and forget that they will arrive somewhere else!

    (I think I read once that you try not to check bags…)

  6. dale

    I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, I dont travel more than a couple times a year, but works all the time.

  7. Turbulence Forecast

    I’m surprised Northwest hasn’t canceled your tickets and/or your frequent flyer miles. What you are doing is against their contract of carriage and they can and will cancel your tickets or require you to pay the difference.


    American Airlines also does not permit it:

    Note that you are correct: Southwest IS different and they permit hidden city ticketing.

      1. QuickPWN

        I doubt they will do anything because they’re still making money from us when we do this. Turbulence are you sure Shoemoney’s trick violates this rule?

  8. netmeg

    I remember at one point I had to get to Minneapolis, and flying from Detroit to Chicago was only $68 one way, and then connecting from Chicago to MSP was well over $600. And direct from Detroit to MSP was around $1300. I’m sure it was Northwest, because I almost always fly Northwest out of Detroit. It just struck me I could get a third of the way there for $68, but then the big bucks kicked in.

  9. coderbari

    You found that loop hole , you shared that info with flight attendants and now you are blogging about it. You are quite a man!! I don’t think there are too many people sharing these things with others.They think it will loose their charms of being secret!! But you seem quite different from them. 9-10 years ago there were card phones in our country.One of my friends knew a trick to make ISD calls in cheap rate. But he never told me that trick. He thought if he taught me the trick then the phone company might know about it and fix the problem. Why didn’t you think the same way about this air travel loop hole?

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  11. Mike Allen

    I wonder if you could buy two 1-way tickets with different end-points (but both leaving where you actually will be at the time) to avoid the fear of a cancellation?

  12. frugaljoe

    As Turbulence Forecast suggests, most airlines forbid hidden city ticketing; just google the term and you’ll see how many airlines forbid the practice. It’s not like you’re going to get arrested for using the practice, but you could get kicked of the frequent flyer program, or they could cancel your flight, and then you’d pay through the nose to get home.

  13. MLDina

    I usually try to fly Southwest or JetBlue for our trade show trips, but next time we book I’m going to look out for this! There are far too many stipulations on airlines nowadays. Might as well use the loopholes to your advantage when you find them, thanks!

  14. Mike Huang

    Shoe, it seems like you missed a letter in your post title :) Anyways, I usually book flights through the Asian travel agencies here and it’s a lot cheaper than online :)


  15. mrkbsm

    Interesting tip! Back when I used to travel a lot, somebody else was footing the bill so I never had a reason to try something like that. :)


    shoe you should be a travel agent! come work for us! these are the little tricks that make a good travel agent and what 99% of the people that use online sites do not know! finding cheap air is a combo of skill and luck….another tip for you is search late night…the airline system cleans out the reservations holding seats somewhere around 2am east to west lower fare seats pop up!…I should write an ebook and sellit on Clickbank!….Inspired by shoemoney!

  17. L2 Lumpy

    My wife is a flight attendent and has been preaching that “process” to her friends for years….

    You want to save even more? Try Telepresence for some of those meetings.

    L2 Lumpy

  18. QuickPWN

    Thanks for sharing that with us, we all need to get as much discount as we can! It costs a lot to travel in air especially when you’re going out of country. If you add extra destinations in your flight then you will also save more money.

  19. Jesse Grant

    I do not think matt hughes is a 9 time welterweight champion , he probably defended his title 9 times 😛

  20. Greg

    this ‘loophole’ has been well known by frequent fliers for a loooooong time. as noted above, the airlines have the right to cancel your return flight if you do that…though i have never heard of that happening.

  21. ajaz

    Great example Shoe. I’ve heard about this before but was told I would probably get my return flight canceled. Now that I know it isn’t true I will be looking into doing this.


    I tried to make this work for a flight from LAX to Myrtle Beach, SC…but nothing going into MYR connects to anywhere else really…because it’s such a damn small airport. I sure wish I could make it work, because I’m heading out there in a month or so.

  23. Sly

    Hmmm… I tell you, airline fares make no sense. It’s bad business practice. And you wonder why airlines are having a tough time. There are airlines that are doing fine right now. People like honest companies.

    In the US, you should be able to fly from any major airport to any major airport for roughly ~$200-300 coach. That’s not last minute and not during holiday type dates.

    I think a better title for this post would be… “How not to pay 80% more for air travel!”

  24. Dennis Yu


    This technique is called “hidden cities”, the second most popular trick. The most popular is called “back-to-back”, where you book multiple tickets at the same time and pair the return leg of the first ticket with the outbound leg of the second ticket. You have to throw away the outbound of the first ticket– but doing so can fake a Saturday night overstay.

    A long time ago, I worked at American Airlines and helped identify folks who do this. Fares are based on market demand, not cost- which is why people are puzzled that shorter flights can cost a lot more.


  25. Dick

    This is an excellent scheme to save the family budget. There is a russian proverb: you want to live should be able to rotate.

  26. Reid

    1st off it is a great find, and a great idea. It saves a heck of a lot of money. It is also important to keep in mind that even if you were flying to St. Louis, its is much better to make the stop at MSP and then go on to arrive in STL because you would save money due to the extra stop. Thats “usually” how it is anyway…

    2nd – Shoe I think you should invest in a small airplane to get around. General aviation has its perks including bypassing airport security, taking more stuff with you (if you want) and you can fly wherever you want without making any stops (depending on the length of the flight). I would love to work as your personal, private pilot. Having your own airplane is actually cheaper than one might think!, especially if you travel a lot… Perhaps its something to think about.

  27. DVD Exposed

    Wow, what a weird trick. What do you do when the flight get cancelled? Do you call in advance? I usually get to the airport just in time, do they put you back on the flight right away?

  28. browie

    You didn’t mention Vegas. Is there an airline that might get me to vegas cheaper? Ugh tickets are expensive. I’m headed in March.

  29. Jason

    That is crazy!!!! I have tried that with flights here in SFO but they all seem the same price. No where near as crazy. When I fly to Vegas its usually only $200 roundtrip sometimes $150……(I tend to go way too much my wife says..haha)

  30. Chris Love

    I thought the airlines plugged that hole a long time ago and would change your fare to the full price or something if they caught you. I know Clark Howard has talked about this quite a bit on his radio show over the years.

  31. cinnarose

    That is a neat trick, but I would be very concerned about them cancelling your reservation. I’ve had that happen to people on American when they try to do funny things like this. But if you’re willing to take that risk, it’s a great deal.

  32. Arick Hedin

    I am trying to figure this out to test the theory, but I am afraid that I can not figure out how you added the extra leg. How did you choose a path that you knew would go through your selected city? – A

  33. Atlanta wedding photographer

    I learned about his a few years back but I don’t travel as much as you do shoe. I liked your “pissy” comment. I don’t know if the airlines could create a report about what is happening and how much that are loosing in efficiency or in gas. I know that it also may cost the airline companies more money when they fly into airports that are not their hubs. However you do it, 20k is a good bit of savings. How many trips to vegas is that?

  34. Mark C

    Airfares are always wacky. I’ve purchased roundtrip tickets when I only needed one-way and saved money versus the one-way fare. In some cases they’ve even credited me for the unused on way fare (though they don’t normally). I have also saved miles by booking a R/T ticket when I needed one way where I would book business class for the flight I actually needed to take and coach on the leg I don’t take versus booking one way business class using miles.

  35. joshua

    everytime this happens to me, they cancel my return flight. Last time it happened, I was flying from Spain back to Boston… oops.

  36. Thomas

    Don’t try that with Air France airline. If you don’t show up at point A boarding, airline cancels your flight and you cannot board at point B.

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  38. Jon

    Same theory holds true with the other airlines if you can book a connection through their major hubs (NW – Minneapolis/St Paul, Enited – Chicago, etc.). Good thing I live in MN and get the cheaper flights straight out of MSP.

  39. john-travel

    The online arena is a global marketplace of time-sensitive, just released travel and entertainment offers, and there are usually more travel tickets available.

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