How To Get 80% Off Your Air Travel

by Jeremy Schoemaker on October 17, 2008 · 107 comments

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.

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2896 posts on ShoeMoney.com.

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.


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{ 97 comments }

1 Steven

Awesome LOL

2 Chris Jacobson

That’s a pretty greasy tactic… I love it!

On an unrelated matter, did Shoe block me on Twitter?! WTF?

3 Jaseem Umer

It is easy and I wonder how great it works.

4 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 orbitz.com, but does this offer work with travel packages? If so, I could stay at the islands for like 7 days and pay under $300! :)

5 Ethan @ Sellthatsite.net

WOW! Thats a huge difference in price! I’m definetly going to be using this the next time I fly anywhere.

Ethan

6 Moneybites

That is indeed awesome, and a great money saving tip!

7 Jaseem Umer

yup.

8 Steven-Sanders

Okay, definitely the greatest airline tactice I think I’ve ever seen.

9 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.

10 Patel

It’s always good to save a few here and there as it adds up!

11 QuickPWN

I agree, but what Shoe posted isn’t “a few” it’s a lot! Whoever takes advantage of this will save a lot of money.

12 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……

13 graywolf

weird chicago is a hub for southwest so flying there from new york cost me $70 each way

14 Jeremy Schoemaker

I think southwest is the exception. Omaha is a hub for them also and I get great rates everywhere.

Southwest seems to be the exception to most of the airline industyr

15 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.

16 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. :-)

17 Tushar Dhoot

Haha, Shoe actually fixed it.

18 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…)

19 Tushar Dhoot

I could see myself making that mistake and letting my bags go to some other airport.

20 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.

21 River Girl

What airlines?

22 Ben Adkins

That’s a smooth little tip Jeremy…
I’m going to have to tell my readers about this post.

BTW just got my official ShoeMoney Shirt in the mail.
Thanks :)
Dr. Ben
http://www.drbenadkins.com

23 QuickPWN

Congrats on getting your Shoemoney shirt. I got mine yesterday and I’m wearing it right now! :)

24 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.

http://www.nwa.com/contract.html

PROHIBITED BY NW.
E) FARES APPLY FOR TRAVEL ONLY BETWEEN THE POINTS FOR WHICH THEY ARE PUBLISHED. TICKETS MAY NOT BE PURCHASED AND USED AS FARE(S) FROM AN INITIAL DEPARTURE POINT ON THE TICKET WHICH IS BEFORE THE PASSENGER’S ACTUAL POINT OF ORIGIN OR TRAVEL OR TO A MORE DISTANT POINT(S) THAN THE PASSENGER’S ACTUAL DESTINATION BEING TRAVELED EVEN WHEN THE PURCHASE AND USE OFSUCH TICKETS WOULD PRODUCE A LOWER FARE. THIS PRACTICE IS KNOWN AS “HIDDEN CITIES TICKETING” OR “POINT BEYOND TICKETING” AND IS PROHIBITED BY NW

American Airlines also does not permit it:
http://www.aa.com/content/agency/Booking_Ticketing/Ticketing/hidden_city_ltr.jhtml

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

25 Tushar Dhoot

That’s interesting. I’m sure they’re going to find out now that he’s published it on his massively popular blog.

Let’s see what they do.

26 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?

27 Moneybites

It seems to but, doubt they’ll do anything..

28 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.

29 Tushar Dhoot

Wow, it’s so simple…. It’s genius!

Great find Shoemoney.

30 Peter Davis

I think they price it higher to fly into the hubs because they have less competition at their hubs.

31 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?

32 Thai Girl

I’ll give you a heads up if it works outside of The States!

33 Brad

wow!!! what a sweet loophole!

34 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?

35 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.

36 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!

37 Patrick

Damn, very nice.

38 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 :)

-Mike

39 Lupe

hah nice glitch

40 Debo Hobo

Excellent tip nd very sneaky I might add.

41 jim

I heard of this trick a while back so I’m really surprised it still works! (still awesome though)

42 Nima

St Louis must be a hub for NWA then

43 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. :)

44 Allcheapfares.com

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 coast..so lower fare seats pop up!…I should write an ebook and sellit on Clickbank!….Inspired by shoemoney!

45 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

46 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.

47 Zurpit

Wow that is a lot of money saved especially if you travel a lot

48 King Guffster

Wow that an awesome find! Thanks, I’ll try it right away because the price of flights are skyrocketing expensive..

49 Jesse Grant

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

50 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.

51 River Girl

Happened to me.

52 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.

53 QuickPWN

Just because Jeremy got away with it doesn’t mean you will. So there still is a chance that your return flight could get canceled.

54 Ryan McLean

Interesting….very interesting

55 40DollarCell.com

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.

56 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!”

57 Dennis Yu

Shoemoney,

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.

Dennis

58 QuickPWN

Never heard of these two terms that you are mentioning here Dennis, but thanks for sharing.

59 eric tan

I’m glad you found a loop hole man, $1,000 flights direct vs $200 flight with a connection is truly a savings

60 QuickPWN

Yes it would involve more stops but it’s definitely worth it because of all the money you would save.

61 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.

62 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.

63 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?

64 Double

Like most people I am always looking for a good deal and I will be using this tip to save money.

65 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.

66 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)

67 mycpalife

don’t they make you check in your baggage to the final destination?

68 Moneybites

Def a great find to keep in mind for later.. seriously that’s a hot tip!

69 Önder

a perfect way… thanks.

70 John Philips

Interesting. Nice tip to get your airfare back to a resonable price. Thankfully my fights from Chicago to SF are still only about $300 RT!

71 Stuart

Cool write up. Thanks for the info

72 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.

73 Bryn Youngblut

That’s crazy for just a flight. I paid $500 for a trip to Cuba, round trip flight, all inclusive 4 star resort for a week.

74 Jaseem Umer

I haven’t ever went for a flight. I don’t think I will go US in near future, so this trick is useless for me.

75 Jaseem Umer

That is an awesome trick, wont they just stop it when everyone starts to use it?

76 Downloadic

That is an awesome point…

77 Winagain

I’d thought Jeremy would just sell a bunch of tickets on their affiliate program and pay his with the revenue :P

78 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.

79 john-travel

yes this is good trick for the air travels, find cheap air travel services and journey easily with less cost.

80 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

81 Reid @ MooneyQuest.com

That’s an awesome trick. I guess you have to take all your luggage carry-on though.

82 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?

83 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.

84 San Nayak

What a deal, nice idea.. Learned something which i gonna try on my next travel.

85 PokerPotjieSoftware

Wow. This is brilliant. I’m wondering what other airlines this could apply to out west. I need to really look into this next time I travel. Thanks for the tip.

86 Ganesh

Haha. That’s cool. I’ll try and see whether a loop hole like that exists in airlines in India. ;)

87 joshua

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

88 Amar

Wow, that was pretty Kool :)

89 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.

90 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.

91 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.

92 BloggingBanks

Hey Shoe thanks for the heads up. It always pays to go above and beyond in order to get the best deal in the marketplace!

93 ZK@Internet Marketing Blog

It’s not like you’re going to get arrested for using the practice, but you could get kicked of the frequent flyer program,

and its good abt these stuff

94 teraOm

$165???? should i consider this a math prob? I never understood the airfare comics..

95 Matt Helphrey

Wow! Ill have to check that out next time I book a flight…and I live in Lincoln!!! Thanks…really…thank you…awesome

96 TheGringo

You can use a “hidden city” booking in SO MANY different ways, across the USA. You can find a detailed review of this and several other cheap airfare tricks at http://www.AirFareIQ.com

97 lidya

Im going to afghanistan on june 18 so how can I use ur magic to get cheap ticket help

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