Eat for a full year on a single airline ticket??

Like say, for example, you have a premium cabin ticket and use that to get in to the lounge so you can enjoy a meal in the lounge, even though you do not intend to fly on the ticket. Is that wrong? What if you purchased a ticket and then had dinner in the lounge every day for nearly a year, ultimately refunding the ticket when the year was up, getting a full refund.

Just another lounge snack/meal

Apparently that’s exactly what one customer in China did, going to the Xi’an airport nearly daily for dinner in the lounge on a single China Eastern ticket. The itinerary was reported to have been changed more than 300 times over the course of the year.

And when the ticket’s validity was nearly up the “passenger” refunded it.

So, what’s your vote? Too much on the part of the passenger or just the cost of doing business for the airline?

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. In any system you are going to have people that abuse the system…. Are there any reports as to whether the lounge is actually worth eating in 300 days a year? I’m not sure I could even do that at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal… Ok… I probably could there… but, I’m imagining the China Eastern lounge more like a United Club..

  2. I find nothing wrong with this. It would never occur to me to do it, but I have no problems with it. Sounds like a nice find to me.

  3. Wouldn’t be hard to do, just book a refundable premium cabin ticket each day, go eat, leave and cancel ticket before departure…..I hope the airline would catch up with this.

  4. Definitely doesn’t feel right, but it’s a impressive thought.

    If you get some value from your ticket, you shouldn’t be able to refund it. Check in and go to the lounge? Then you should be past the point of changeability.

  5. Well either the airline won’t care because the passenger isn’t negatively financially affecting them enough, or they’ll put a lifetime ban on the customer.

  6. That’s a photo of Qatar Premium Terminal in Doha. The glass was the first thing that gave it away, then the hold decor.

  7. Wow. If you really want to change the ticket, drive to the airport, obtain a boarding pass, and clear security every single day just to eat in the lounge for free, well then, I think you deserve to eat for free.

  8. Guy is most likely chinese. What do you expect? They are one of the world stingiest(sp?) stingy people around.

  9. I can’t imagine the food is too good there judging from my experience in non hub loune in China. There are some lounges that I can probably do it like SZX, PVG, PEK. But I would take a break from time to time….

  10. It is nothing to do being chinese or not. The guy is creative although it sounds a hassle to do so. However, the airline system needs to be fixed/modified quickly so that such things won’t happen again in the future.

  11. I’ve eaten the food in the lounge at XIY. Believe me, it’s not worth the trip to the airport. Same thing could be bought on the street for a few $.
    Now if he were in Beijing, that might be a different story…

  12. Seems excessive and I certainly wouldn’t go thru the effort although I’ve done my version at a Delta club a few years ago. Was flying a different airline and wanted to use my Amex Platinum to get into the lounge but was told I had to be flying DL. So I stepped aside in the lounge and called reservations and booked a refundable ticket to somewhere within 3 hours. Got the confirmation number, went back to the club desk to the same person with my booking number and asked to have my boarding pass printed. Gave my Amex Platinum card and enjoyed the lounge. Sat down and called to cancel my reservation. Thought I was pretty clever.

  13. There has to be to this story. Suspect someone was being billed for first class tickets almost daily.

  14. The airlines screw you every day (change fees, non-refundable fares, bag fees and so on) – so why not pay them back in their own coin?

  15. As others have posted, I just don’t think I could handle doing this.
    I was at the PVG China Eastern Lounge and the food was disgusting.
    I could hardly handle the 1 visit and hope to never fly them or visit their lounges again!
    But pretty tricky all and all.

  16. Great news to laugh at!!!

    BTW was “Carry Out” part of his deal?
    Wouldn’t be fantastic to feed entire family (bonus – relatives too) on greedy air line industry’s dime.

  17. If I live by the airport, that might be worth the run if I don’t have to pay for transportation (some places have free shuttles to the airport)… just the time issue if most of us are working but for a jobless person / retired adventurer, this could be a possibility….
    In NY Chinatown, there are free bus rides to the cainos provided by the casinos and they also throw in $20 so lots of people were going there daily for the $20, which pays for both lunch and dinner for 2 in Chinatown! πŸ˜€

  18. Anyone else wonder whether China is really the place to play this kind of game? Does he have someone high up protecting him? I wouldn’t want some airline executive calling a buddy somewhere in the security apparatus to investigate what’s going on.

  19. At some point you cross the line of being unethical in this crazy travel world we try to hack daily. There are levels. Basically the are:
    1. Against the “spirit” of the rules (many of us take advantage of that).
    2. Unethical. You know it’s wrong but maybe not immoral so you do it.
    3. Immoral. You are outright stealing (although technically not illegal) and trying not to get caught.
    4. Illegal.

    Anyway you could combine several of the above and or your own levels. This one seems to be against several of these levels. A better choice would be to get a credit card or purchase lounge access and use that. Sure it’s not as free but may be less trouble than all the booking of tickets and refunding them daily. Being China maybe it’s harder to get lounge access though other methods.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  20. Lucky always talked the talk about “living” in the LH FCT

    But he’s all talk

    This guy walks the walk

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