D. How can we get one-way air tickets at a cheap price?
As we explained in another article, alternative options, such as open-ended air tickets or open-jaw tickets, are usually very expensive. Is there then no alternative but to pay exorbitant prices for one-way flights? Definitely not.
You can find and book easily cheap one-way flights provided that you follow the right way. The method we apply is quite simple. Using a price comparison tool is not necessary. However, it helps you find more quickly the best deals.
The examples we provide are just illustrative. They concern airfares quoted early February 2014 for flights four months later. When you read this article, the price will have changed. However, the recommended method remains fully valid.
1. First tip
In many cases, your destination is served by different airlines. You will definitely save quite a lot of money if you always compare prices of different airlines.
Usually, American legacy carriers offer cheaper one-way flights than European flag carriers on the same route. Similarly, low cost or charter airlines offer cheaper one-way flights than American or European legacy carriers to the same destination city.
For example, if you are looking for a one-way air ticket from London (LHR) to New York (JFK), non-stop, book it from airlines such as Delta Airlines or American Airlines at about US $1260 instead of British Airways at US $ 1780.
If you travel in May 2014, you may even buy such a flight with Kuwait Airways at prices as low as US $ 600, the third of the airfare charged by British airways at the same time! This flight is however available only 3 days a week.
Another example: if you are planning a simple trip Chicago to Las Vegas, Spirit Airlines (a low cost airline) offers one-way air tickets at $ 150 while United Airlines and American Airlines sells them at $ 190.
If you search the best deals with an online travel agency or another airfares comparison tool, keep in mind that they do not include the flights of all low cost airlines (e.g. Southwest, Ryanair, and many more). Therefore, you need sometimes to visit the website of the low cost airlines and check the price by yourself. When doing so, be careful: many low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Spirit charge extra fees for luggage and any additional service.
Compares prices, all charges and taxes included.
If needed, you may find which airlines fly to your destination e.g. by visiting the web site of the destination airport.
2. Second tip
Consider travelling to or from a nearby airport at a cheaper rate.
For instance, if you are preparing a trip from Los Angeles to Miami, consider travelling to Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) instead of Miami International Airport (MIA). Flights to FLL are mostly significantly cheaper than those to MIA which is located 43 km (27 mi) away from FLL.
Another example: one-way flights to Istanbul from London are usually cheaper from Gatwick Airport with Turkish Airlines than from Heathrow with British Airways.
This happens much more often you might expect. You may often find other airports in the same city, in a nearby town, or even not too far in nearby states/countries (e.g. Brussels versus Paris or Amsterdam).
In Europe, regional airports are cheaper than most nearby international airports. That is why many low cost airlines fly to and from regional airports.
3. Third tip
If no other direct flight is available at a cheap rate on your itinerary, do not hesitate to buy a cheap return ticket, instead of the more expensive one-way airfare, and simply skip the second segment (i.e. the inbound flight) of the return ticket.
Select the inbound flight in the proper way, i.e. at the cheapest date (e.g. midweek in the low season) in order to get the cheapest roundtrip. This has no drawback since you do not intend to use that segment.
For instance, instead of buying a one-way air ticket LHR to JFK from British Airways at $ 1780, you may book a return ticket of the same airline at about $ 900. This is still cheaper than one-way flights of Delta Airlines or American Airlines ($ 1260).
Similarly, if you are looking for a one-way air ticket Paris to Kinshasa (Congo), buy the return ticket of Air France at $1060 only, instead of paying the one-way flight at $ 4600!
The practice of buying a return ticket instead of a one-way airfare, called throwaway ticketing, is mainly attractive with the European flag carriers, since most other airlines in the world apply better pricing strategies. It is actually prohibited by the airlines. However, a penalty is highly unlikely to be applied unless you repeatedly abuse this practice with the same airline.
Keep in mind that the whole ticket will be cancelled if you intend to use only the second segment of a return ticket and you don’t take the outbound flight (no-show case).
4. Fourth tip
If all above options are still too expensive or do not suit you, check prices of one-way flights with one (or more) stopover. It may be a better deal for you if the duration of the flight does not trouble you.
For example, as for one-way air tickets from Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK), you can find cheap one-stop flights for only $ 500 at Icelandair with a short stopover in Reykjavik (Schengen area), while you would pay Air France more than $ 3000 for a one-way direct flight or about $ 900 for a whole return ticket.
Another example: if you're planning a one-way trip from Chicago (ORD) to Copenhagen (CPH), you can buy a one-way ticket with Air Berlin with a short stopover in Berlin (Schengen area) at prices ranging from $ 750 to 950 while the direct flight from SAS - the only airline operating direct flight on this route - would cost about $ 1760 (one-way ticket) or $1100 (return ticket).
Similarly, as for one-way flights from Atlanta (USA) to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), one-stop flights with United Airlines, American Airlines or TAM may sometimes be available at half the price of the direct flight with Delta Airlines.
Of course, you can’t always find one-stop flights that are cheaper than direct flights. This option is available mainly when you take long-haul flights.
5 . Fifth tips
Finally, if you are going to book two one-way flights because you plan to return from a different city than your arrival city, you may often save money if you buy a classic round-trip flight and a junction flight between both cities.
For instance, if you are planning to buy two one-way flights because you will fly from London to New York and return to London from Washington DC for any reason. You often save some money if you book a roundtrip Paris - New York and a flight Washington DC - New York instead of two one-way flights (London - New York and Washington - London).
E. Additional tips
By following our additional advice, you will maximise your chance of finding a cheap one-way ticket.
-- First, be sure to book the flight as early as possible. Then you can take advantage of some cheap alternative options which may be no longer available at last minute. Furthermore, the surcharge for one-way flights may increase over time.
-- Whenever possible, move forward or delay your departure by one day or two in order to qualify for a better rate. Some cheap flights are indeed available some days of the week only. Furthermore, midweek flights are often less expensive than flights on weekends, even in peak seasons.
This is also of application when your flight is operated by a discount airline. For instance, early February 2014, the one-way flight Edinburgh to Tenerife South with Easyjet on Wednesday June 18th was sold at £ 90 while it cost £149 for a trip on Friday June 20th.
-- Whenever possible, advance or delay your departure by a few hours if there are cheaper flights on the same day.