Travelers are like human boomerangs. Most people who fly eventually come back. The Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) released a study in July titled “Myth Busting the Cost of One-Way Tickets” that found a growing trend toward travelers selecting one-way tickets instead of roundtrip.
In many cases, when you are purchasing a roundtrip ticket, you are really purchasing two one-way tickets in a single transaction. If you compare the one-way fares for those same exact flights, you will see the cost is the same whether you are buying individually or combined.
ARC analyzed data over a more than three-year period and noticed that one-way ticket purchases have steadily increased since 2014. The margin between roundtrip and one-way ticket purchases has narrowed. Many airlines have either eliminated or reduced fees associated with single-way fares. The study shows that one-way sales have grown by 45 percent since 2014. One-way tickets represented 29 percent of purchases in 2014. This has spiked to 42 percent as of May 2017.
Statistics revealed that managed travel still tends to book roundtrip, possibly missing out on savings. Business travelers booking individually prefer one-way because of the flexibility of last minute changes to itineraries. Here are three things to consider when booking flights:
Mix & Match
Sometimes, it is beneficial to be flexible. Consider flying to your destination on one airline and flying back home on a different airline. Use caution, however and don’t use multiple airlines in a single leg of a trip. If there’s a delay and you miss a connecting flight, your airline will try to accommodate you on the next flight of their airline. But, if you miss a layover on a different airline, you’re likely out of luck.
It is also worth considering flying in and out of different airports if the city you are traveling to and from has options. For instance, if you live in Los Angeles and are flying to New York City, you can fly from Burbank to JFK and return from LaGuardia to LAX. Get creative and mix and match.
Caution: A La Carte Charges
The cheapest ticket is not necessarily the least expensive trip. Before impulse-buying what you think is the best deal, take a moment to factor in the cost of checking luggage and transportation to/from the airport. For instance, buying the lowest fare level on JetBlue is typically $15 cheaper than the next level up. If you plan to check a bag, they charge $20. However, if you pay the extra $15 for the mid-level ticket, you get one free checked bag. Easy $5 savings each way.
Often the cheapest airline has hidden fees. This quickly adds up to more than paying a higher rate for an all-inclusive airline. If it is going to cost a premium to go to a more distant airport for a cheaper flight, when transportation costs are included, it might be more budget-friendly to get a more expensive ticket at a more convenient airport.
Did someone say free checked bags? It also may be worth paying a bit more for a ticket if you don’t pay extra for luggage. Southwest Airlines includes two free checked bags for all passengers, but their tickets aren’t sold through any of the major travel websites. You need to book directly with Southwest online or over the phone. Don’t forget about them because many times Southwest is the cheapest, but deals might get overlooked. Plus, Southwest is the preferred airline of travel industry professionals and travel rewards program members, according to YouGov.
Especially when traveling for business, you might require in-flight Wi-Fi. Some airlines charge an additional fee, others offer it complimentary. Same goes with entertainment, such as television. Every little bit adds up. Do some research before you book it.
One Final “Point”-er
Want to use points to travel, but don’t have enough accumulated for a roundtrip ticket? Some airlines do not allow you to combine points and dollars. You could buy one-way with points and the other way with money. Or, if you have points saved on multiple airlines, redeem them on airline A in one direction and airline B in another direction.