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How to decide if 2 one-way flights are better than one round-trip flight

When you book air travel, the airline offers several ways to filter your search results – price range, preferred time of day, nonstop flights versus flights with layovers, and of course, round-trip versus one-way. .

As the name suggests, a round-trip journey includes both a flight from your starting point to your destination and a flight back to your place of origin, whereas a one-way only covers one of those segments. While the former is generally the easiest way to book a trip, some people prefer to buy two separate one-way tickets while traveling.

But are there good reasons to choose one over the other? We asked some travel experts to share their advice on whether it’s better to book two one-way or one round-trip reservations for your next airfare excursion.

International travel encourages round-trip booking.

“When you’re booking international flights, it almost always pays to book as a round-trip, as airlines usually price one-way at more than half the cost of round-trip fares, Senior reporter Zach Griff said. On the Points Guy.

In fact, at the time of writing this article, a cursory search on Google Flights found a round-trip flight option from New York to Paris for $522. But if you were to buy the same two flights separately — New York to Paris, then Paris back to New York — the combined cost would be $1,670, more than three times the cost of round-trip bookings. When premium cabin fares are included, the price discrepancy can be even more severe.

Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, said, “In general, round-trip tickets are cheaper than two one-way tickets, especially if you intend to fly with a single carrier or alliance. “

So if you’re all about airline loyalty, you’ll find better pricing options for booking round-trip travel for your international travel.

But the one-way price of domestic flights is better.

While airline pricing encourages round-trip booking for international flights, there is not as much disparity with domestic air travel.

“When traveling within the US, airlines typically offer one-way flights at half the cost of a round-trip,” reporter Chris Dong wrote for The Points Guy in September. “There are certainly exceptions, especially for those who fly through smaller, regional airports.”

Thus, if you are flying domestically from a major hub, you have better chances of finding good deals on individual one-way tickets.

Booking separate legs allows you to combine airlines.

Once you’ve determined that you won’t lose money booking different legs for your airfare, consider why you want to do it this way.

“Booking a round-trip itinerary as two one-way segments makes sense in some cases,” Griff said. “For one, it lets you choose between multiple airlines in your searches. Sometimes, you can save money by mixing flights on different airlines.”

Perhaps you have reward points with two different airlines that serve your destination and want to redeem them during one trip. You can do this by booking separately. You may also get a good deal for the outbound portion of your trip with one airline and the return flight with a different carrier.

“That said, you will need to pay attention to the different fare rules when combining two airlines on a trip,” Griff said. “For example, if your outbound flight is delayed or cancelled, you will be entitled to a refund for that portion of the itinerary if you booked one-way.”

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There are some scenarios where a pair of one-way tickets is better than a round-trip flight.

Also offers more flexibility with one-way return dates.

Another factor you can consider when booking round-trip or one-way is how sure you are about your dates.

Good one-way rates “can be useful if you’re not quite sure when you’ll return from your trip, which is especially relevant in the era of remote work and extended AirBnB stays,” Orlando said.

So if you’re not exactly sure when you’ll end your stay, you can make the process easier by simply booking a one-way ticket there. Then you don’t need to book your return until you’re ready, and you won’t have to spend time changing it over and over again at a later date.

Orlando said it has had the privilege of making one-way bookings internationally with some carriers such as TAP Air Portugal.

“I often travel to Europe for weeks, if not months, then all at once, and try to make sure I end my trip in a city run by TAP, because I know I I can find a cheap one-way ticket for my house,” he noted.

Booking separate legs can help with a complex itinerary.

Sometimes your journey may take you to multiple places and through different transit methods. For example, you can fly from Miami to New York and then take the train down to Washington, DC.

“In many cases, it would be possible to book an open-jaw ticket, combining the two itineraries into a single ’round-trip’ ticket, but sometimes this is not possible,” Orlando said. “In that case, it may be worthwhile to look at one-way prices to see if they offer competitive pricing, or favorable routing.”

When you have a more complex itinerary, it can seem easy to split it into one-way flights. Just be sure to compare prices, and be prepared to have different airline bookings managed in your inbox.

Like most aspects of travel, there’s no one magical way to do things when you’re deciding whether to book two one-way or one round-trip excursions. But with research and experience, you can be better able to find what works best for your budget, itinerary, and overall comfort level.

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