How to get 2 airline tickets for the price of 1

I’ve been traveling a fair bit as of late and I’ve learned a pretty useful trick to buying mileage tickets (and this can also apply to cash tickets as well). Others might find this a useful way to save themselves or their companies money. Make-up some of those extra $$$ airlines charges these days for checked baggage, food, ticket changes, etc.!!!

A little bit about the kind of traveling I do:

  • Most of my travel is business travel
  • I usually don’t stay weekends — which means no Saturday night stay. Which means much higher cost tickets, especially if they are booked at the last minute.
  • I frequently travel to the same cities — for SnapStream, we have customers all over the US and Canada, but there are concentrations of customers in particular cities like New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.
  • I like flying direct, non-stop flights — I save time, which means more time for meetings and I end up less tired (which ultimately represents better meetings)

So let’s say I want to travel to Washington DC next week from Houston, leaving on Monday and returning on Thursday. This ticket might cost $1,200 on Continental Airlines. The mileage ticket would cost 50,000 miles (all round-trip mileage tickets on Continental that don’t include a Saturday night stay are necessarily 50,000 miles). Now, spending 50,000 miles on a $1,200 mileage ticket is a reasonable use of miles.

But what if I could get two round-trip tickets to Washington DC and spend the same amount of miles? That would be really awesome!

It turns out this is possible if you can plan two trips to the same city at one time. Here’s how it works:

1. Decide your two travel dates to your destination city — for our example, let’s say I’m going to Washington DC June 22 through June 25. We’ll call this trip1. And I might plan another trip to Washington DC August 3rd through August 5th. We’ll call this trip2.

If I bought two mileage tickets for these two trips, it would be 50,000 miles for the June trip (trip1) and 50,000 miles for the August trip (trip2):

trip1: Houston –> DC, June 22 (Mon) – June 25 (Thurs) (50,000 miles)
trip2: Houston –> DC, August 3 (Mon) – August 5 (Wed) (50,000 miles)

2. Instead, I purchase two round-trip mileage tickets — the first one (ticket1), departing Houston June 22nd (trip1) and returning to Houston on August 5th (trip2). This ticket has a price of 25,000 miles because it involves a Saturday night stay (technically, it includes a bunch of Saturday night stays! :-))

3. And then I purchase a second round-trip mileage ticket (ticket2) — departing Washington DC on June 25th (trip1) and returning to Washington DC on August 3rd (trip2). Also 25,000 miles.

A summary:
ticket1: Houston –> DC, June 22 – August 5 (25,000 miles)
ticket2: DC –> Houston, June 25 – August 3 (25,000 miles)

Because each ticket includes a Saturday night stay, each ticket costs me 25,000 for a grand total of 50,000 miles.

I just did this for a trip I’m taking next week and it worked out beautifully! Two airline tickets for the price of one.

And even if I somehow don’t travel on the latter ticket, I didn’t spend more miles than I would have otherwise. Also, changing mileage tickets is a lot more flexible than changing paid tickets. So I could even change the August trip (trip2) in the example above with some, relatively speaking, reasonable change fees.