If you’ve been a frequent flier for two or more decades, then no doubt you remember the days when airlines charged far more for one-way tickets. They also used to require a Saturday night stay, which was their way to gouge business travelers. No road warrior wants to miss a weekend at home and neither do leisure travelers want to miss a Saturday night at their vacation destination. RELATED: How to Save Hundreds of Dollars on Already Purchased Airline Tickets
Fortunately, with the rise of low-fare carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, the airlines dropped the ridiculous Saturday night stay and round trip requirements. Though, if you read my article on 17 ways to find cheap flights, then you know that round trip tickets are still cheaper in some parts of the world, including Europe.
That’s why when booking flights, you should also price out one-way tickets as well as round trips – even if you’re not planning on taking a return flight. Just make sure that the return ticket is for at least a week later and preferably on a cheap day to fly like Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Keep in mind, airlines don’t like it when customers do this, similar to the hidden city trick. So don’t do it often and you might not want to put your frequent flier number in.
Almost all the tickets I book are one-way for a number of reasons: My plans often change and if there’s a chance that I might not take my outbound flight but I’m positive I’ll take my return, I book two one-way tickets instead of a round trip. I also prefer to fly nonstop and on larger aircrafts. If I’m doing a multi-city itinerary, chances are the first airline might not offer a nonstop flight or a mainline jet (compared to a small regional jet) to or from my second destination.
However, things might be changing back to the old days, as airlines continue to try and find new revenue streams. In a post this morning on X, formerly Twitter, Jason Rabinowitz wrote: “Ugh ugh UGHHHHHHH US airlines are starting to bring back roundtrip pricing for domestic flights and I HATE it. This JFK-PIT-JFK @Delta itinerary prices at $262.80 if booked as a roundtrip, but $233.90 and $168.90 if booked separately. That’s a 53% increase in price!” He then posted screenshots of his findings.
I perceive this as a big deal (at least to me) because it prevents passengers from splitting up a roundtrip between multiple airlines.
Say Delta has a low JFK-PIT fare, but American has a lower or better timed PIT-JFK flight. Delta now makes it impractical to book that combo.
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) September 25, 2023
As Jason wrote, he thinks it’s a big deal “because it prevents passengers from splitting up a roundtrip between multiple airlines.”
He’s right. I book a lot of tickets but not as many as Brett Snyder, a former airline manager and founder of CrankyFlier and Cranky Concierge travel service. I asked Brett if he’s seeing this type of pricing and he replied, “We see it on some places, but I don’t have a sense of really how widespread it is.” I asked him if it’s just a Delta thing and Brett said, “Honestly don’t know, but I would assume they’ll all end up matching each other.”
That’s why this is a big deal and that’s what I’m afraid of and I assume Jason is, too. So if you’re like me and often book one-way tickets, you should start pricing out your airline tickets both as one-ways and as round trips to see which is the better deal.
• How to Save Money With a Secret Third Carry-On
• How to Use Your Wireless Headphones to Watch In-Flight Movies
• 10 Airport Security Hacks Every Traveler Should Know
• How to Get the Best Coach Seat on the Plane
• The Sleep Hack Every Traveler Needs to Know
• Never Get Your Valuables Stolen on the Beach