It’s cheaper to book two return flights than just one

Our team has discovered a loophole in the airline booking industry: thanks to this loophole, it’s possible to book two roundtrips cheaper than if you booked just one. Here’s how it works.

You’ve probably already read about cheap flight booking techniques on the Internet. They work pretty well, but the savings aren’t huge… The one we’re going to tell you about today is relatively secret, since we haven’t found any information on the subject elsewhere on the web.

This tip only works on round-trip flights booked at the last minute, or in the last few days before the flight date. You’ll see that in the example given, you save over €120 on a round-trip flight from Montpellier to Paris!

Without further ado, here are the details (with supporting evidence) of the flaw that airlines are surely dreading:

Two round-trip flights cheaper than one return flight

You read that right: two round-trip flights are cheaper than one round-trip flight. If you need to book a flight at the last minute, tomorrow or in the next two/three days, it can be cheaper to book two round-trip flights rather than one. Here’s a 3-step explanation in pictures:

(Mind you, we’re not talking about the fact that buying a one-way ticket is often more expensive than buying a round-trip ticket).

Step 1

Let’s say you need to take a last-minute flight from Montpellier to Paris (adapt the search to your case). You go to a flight comparator like Skyscanner, for example, and book an outbound flight for the same day or the next day, and your return flight two days later. Here’s what you get:

Exemple de la technique pour un vol pas cher avec deux aller-retour

We are carrying out this test on January 22, 2018. We would like to book a flight from Montpellier to Paris with an outbound flight on 23/01 and a return flight on 25/01. The price is 313€. We were expecting it, so we’re doing it at the last minute!

Step 2

To avoid paying the full price, take a round-trip flight with an outbound date of 01/23 (the outbound date must be the correct one), and a relatively distant return date, say a month later, of Thursday 02/22. Take a look at the result:

Exemple de la technique pour un vol pas cher avec deux aller-retour

Step 3

Right away, the round-trip price drops to 96€. But you don’t want to go back in a month… All that’s left to do is book the second round-trip, which must depart from the same city as your destination, in this case Paris. The outbound date must be your actual return date (01/25), while your return date must again be relatively far away, say Friday 02/23. You’ll understand better with this screenshot:

Exemple de la technique pour un vol pas cher avec deux aller-retour

This second return flight will cost you €93.

Result: savings of €124

If you book your return flight on your actual dates, you’ll pay €313 here. If you take advantage of this loophole, you’ll pay 96€ for your outward journey (with the first return flight) and 93€ for your return journey (with the second return flight). That’s a total of €189. That’s a saving of €124 on the original price!

You can also use Momondo, Kayak or Liligo.

How does it work?

First of all, this loophole doesn’t work on all flights. To take advantage of it, it’s important to spend a little time « playing » with dates to get the best possible price. Here’s how to do it:

Open three tabs of any comparator in your browser. Each tab corresponds to a step:

Step 1: enter your search (departure city > arrival city) with your actual travel dates

Step 2: enter the departure date and city, and select a return date far in the future

Step 3: reverse the search (arrival city > departure city) and enter the correct return date for the outbound trip. Finally, choose a long-distance return.

In which cases is the likelihood of benefiting from this loophole greatest?

Here’s the list of cases we’ve found where you’re most likely to find two round-trip flights cheaper than a single round-trip flight:

  • It must be a last-minute return flight: you must take your outbound flight on the same day, the next day or within 2-3 days maximum, and your return flight must be close to the date of your outbound flight. For example: you leave tomorrow and return the day after tomorrow.
  • Once you’ve found a route on which the loophole works, the return flights (the ones you won’t be taking) should be far apart in time. It’s up to you to play around with the dates on flight comparators to find the lowest price. It may take a little time, but the savings can be enormous.
  • We need to think in terms of routes. It’s on the most regular and direct flights that the likelihood of the flaw working is highest.
  • It would seem that the shorter the flight (or distance), the greater the likelihood of the flaw working.

A particularly cost-effective technique for regular travellers

Not only does this technique save you money on your round-trip flight, it also allows you to get a second flight at the same time.

So, if you regularly travel on the same route, you can use this technique to book two return flights for the price of one!

Companies that have to manage their employees’ business travel could well benefit from this tip to optimize journeys and, above all, make significant budget savings.

Is overbooking partly explained by this technique?

Of course, you’ll only be flying on the outward legs of your two bookings, which means that one seat will be empty on both return legs. Is this why overbooking came into being?

This technique for optimizing sales is now widespread, and can sometimes cause inconvenience for travelers. In fact, many passengers (late arrivals or sick passengers) don’t show up at the boarding gate (this is known as a no-show). Others, like those using the technique presented here, even though they know they won’t be traveling, don’t cancel their tickets, thus blocking seats for sale.

All these no-shows are lost seats for the airlines. In order to maximize sales and continue to offer attractive prices, they decide to sell more seats on certain flights than are available on the aircraft.

Other tips for smart travel

The possibilities for saving money when traveling are immense, and don’t just concern flights. Did you know, for example, that you can book your activities in advance? By saving money, you can organize all your visits in advance and avoid queuing in front of monuments once you’re there. That’s what the Doyoogo website offers.

Queue Tour Eiffel, file d'attente

Photo credit: Flickr – Robert Gusick

Main photo credit: Flickr – Tristan Farsac