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How can I buy a plane ticket for a one year stay?

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I am really hoping someone on this forum will have some suggestions, because I just have no idea how to solve this problem.

I will be spending 11 months to a year in Portugal beginning in August 2008. No one can tell me how to buy a ticket that will have an August 2008 departure date and July 2009 return date. I understand that I can only book out 330 days in advance, but that means I would have to wait till almost the day of my departure to buy my ticket and that would be ridiculously expensive, if not impossible because of high travel season.

I have spent a year out of the country before, but in the past I was always lucky enough to have FF miles to get the ticket. With miles, it's easy, you get the ticket and then change the return date when you are 330 days away from the day you want to return.

The airlines haven't been able to help me at all. Surely there are lots of people who do this -- What do the thousands of US students who study abroad for a year do?

I would really appreciate any suggestions people might have. Thanks so much.

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