Conventional travel wisdom holds that one-way domestic tickets are a better bargain, but round-trip foreign flights are a better deal. However, this is not always the case. Return flights are often less expensive than their single counterparts. In fact, return flights are usually the least expensive option.
The reason for this is simple: If you need to make multiple trips, you're going to end up paying for all of those trips individually. So if you can book a return flight instead, it'll be more cost effective.
There are also times when booking a single trip may be more expensive than returning on two separate flights. For example, if you find yourself needing to make an early morning or late night flight, it may be more cost effective to book a single trip that covers all of your needs rather than splitting it up into two returns.
Finally, if you have a long trip ahead of you and don't want to spend all of your money on airfare right away, consider booking a single flight and then using some of that savings to buy later tickets at reduced rates.
So in general, return flights are less expensive than single flights, and split trips are cheaper than single trips. However, there are times when doing so will save you money as well as times when it won't.
Because airlines try to dissuade people from ordering one-way tickets, one-way flights are nearly always much more expensive than round-trip pricing. One-way tickets are disliked by airlines in general because they interrupt flight schedules. If you need to fly only one direction, it's usually better for all parties if you find another way to travel.
The reason why one-way flights are more expensive is that airlines have to cover the cost of both returning the plane empty back to its home base. This means that even if they sell a single one-way ticket, they make up the lost revenue on other flights.
For example, let's say that an airline charges $100 for a one-way flight from Chicago to San Francisco. This would mean that they would lose $100 on each flight they operated between those two cities. To make up for this loss, they would have to charge more than $100 for a round-trip ticket.
One-way fares are generally less expensive per mile than round-trip tickets, because there's no additional charge for getting in and out of certain airports without any stops along the way. For example, an airline might charge $75 for a one-way trip between Chicago and Seattle but only $45 for a round-trip ticket.
Roundtrip tickets are a better overall value on some airlines, mainly major ones. A recent example on a major U.S. airline revealed roundtrip prices from Los Angeles to Denver for $277 and one-way fares for $133. In this situation, the one-way rate is more than half the price of the roundtrip fare. However, not all airlines charge significantly different prices for one-way versus roundtrip flights.
Here's why: If you need to make multiple trips on one airline, you get a discount on each segment you book. For example, if you were to fly from Los Angeles to Denver and back again, the airline would consider that a single flight with two segments. Thus, you would only pay for one segment even though it covers both directions. This can be a great deal for travelers who want to cut down on baggage fees or travel without having to check bags.
However, not all airlines offer discounted one-way fares. So before you decide on what type of fare to purchase, know what kind of deal you're getting yourself into.
If you have a choice between buying one-way or roundtrip tickets, we recommend buying roundtrip tickets. Why? Because if you need to switch airports during your trip (or flights), you'll still be able to do so at no additional cost with roundtrip tickets. On a one-way ticket, you'd have to pay extra if you wanted to change airports.
Say it aloud: "Pause." One of the primary reasons why one-way tickets may be so expensive is because they are frequently purchased by business travelers who have strict date-and-time restrictions and are less price-sensitive. A round-trip economy ticket on the same dates on Lufthansa would have cost $1,700 versus. $900 for a one-way.
The other reason has to do with the value proposition that airlines offer customers. If you were to buy a one-way ticket from New York City to San Francisco for $900, how valuable does that seem? But if you could book the same trip in reverse, for $1,700, then that becomes much more attractive. The airline knows this and uses it to its advantage when pricing flights.
The most effective way to avoid this issue is to book a round-trip ticket in the first place. This will always give you the best deal and ensures that you don't end up paying more on one direction than the other.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, airlines have historically charged more for one-way flights than round-trips. By keeping round-trip flights inexpensive, travellers were more likely to utilize the same airline for both legs of their journey. This allowed carriers to charge less for each flight compared to today's competitive market place.
The reason for this is that back in the day, most passengers would use a single carrier for both legs of their trip. So if someone wanted to travel from New York to San Francisco but didn't like the price of the ticket, they'd just book another flight on the same carrier at a different time. Carriers did not want to lose these customers to their competitors so they kept prices low enough to be attractive for repeat business.
In recent years, though, the trend has been toward greater differentiation between one-way and round-trip fares. Today, many passengers will use a different carrier for each leg of their trip, which means that carriers need to differentiate themselves with better amenities or discounts to attract people who want to travel for free!
Another factor behind the rise in price discrimination between one-way and round-trip tickets is the increase in discount airlines over the past few decades.
A a multi-city ticket may appear to be more expensive than booking a roundtrip journey, but it is not always the case. In fact, planning a multi-city itinerary is frequently less expensive than booking two one-way flights.
If you are flying between two cities over 500 miles apart, such as New York and Chicago, or San Francisco and Los Angeles, then it will usually be cheaper to book a multi-city flight than to fly between each location separately. However, if both destinations are within easy reach of each other, such as London and Paris, or Melbourne and Sydney, then it may be more economical to book separate tickets.
In addition, if you are traveling with children or teenagers there are age restrictions that need to be taken into account when purchasing tickets. For example, under-12s can travel for free on their parent's airline ticket by using the discounted child fare ticket. Also, students with a valid student ID card can get a 15% discount on many flights with no limit on how many times they can use it per year. You can find out more information about these discounts at the airlines' websites.
Finally, bear in mind that the more days you want to travel, the more cost effective it is to book a multi-city flight rather than multiple single tickets. For example, if you want to visit Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St.