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One-way tickets?

We will be flying into England, but not sure how long or where we’ll stay after that. Will probably end up on the Continent. Plan on buying 1-way tickets, then booking return flight later. Is this OK, allowed, recommended, etc.??

Posted by
4150 posts

Sure. Millions of people do this every day.

Only things to be aware of are 1) you will want to have some sort of proof of your return ticket (just a print out of the e-ticket receipt should suffice), in the unlikely event that passport control wants to know that you're not coming to stay; and, 2) beware that some legacy airlines price "one way" flights crazy high - you want to book what we call "open jaws" but your airline(s) may call "multi-city" or some other term. No reason you can't mix and match airlines, either.

Posted by
5200 posts

The only caution is to be aware that competitive one-way pricing is practiced only be select airlines, typically the budget ones (not the legacy ones). So be sure that you know which airlines you can reasonably choose from to get reasonably priced 2 one-way fares.

There was an earlier post from someone who bought a one-way ticket from Norwegian Airlines but couldn't find a similar great fare back from another city. You should be reasonably comfortable that at least one airline can get you back at a price that's affordable. To find out, just do a dummy booking. If you're flying back from a large airport that has a lot of competition among budget airlines (i.e Frankfurt, not Dubrovnik), you should be ok...but better to check ahead of time than be sorry.

Posted by
5122 posts

go for it; I have done this 4 or 5 times. If you can't get a ticket back on Norwegian or Wow Air at a price more reasonable than the bloated legacy airlines try also searching Expedia or Priceline. for example I got a one way ticket DC to Frankfurt for $300 one time on Lufthansa through Priceline. But don't try this if you are going when everyone goes like in June July or August

Posted by
4267 posts

I wouldn’t recommend this. I’d suggest that you check the price of two one ways before you buy anything. Often one way tickets are very expensive. If you want decently priced tickets, you will be limited to a few airlines.

Most people find it much less expensive to book an open jaws ticket. You must have some idea how long you will stay and where you want to travel to.

Posted by
5122 posts

Or simply just book an roundtrip open jaw ticket that will not penalize you to change the return date. These are always the most expensive.

Posted by
4380 posts

Do you by any chance have enough airline miles to buy a one-way ticket? (On United you can go to/from Europe for 30,000 miles each.) Otherwise, look for airlines like Icelandic who routinely sell one-way flights at reasonable prices.

Posted by
3112 posts

Sometimes, by buying one-way tickets, I save a great deal on airfare.
I have NEVER, in over 40 international trips, been asked to show a return ticket. They will only ask to see one at immigration if the official suspects that you are going to try to overstay your visa or some other reason to suspect you are more than just a tourist. To say you may be hassled is not realistic. I have frequently waited to buy return tickets and have never had a problem doing this.

Posted by
30049 posts


How long are you planning to stay in the U.K. and on the continent? As you may be aware, both locations have limits on the length of time visitors can stay.

Posted by
2 posts

We can get frequent flier miles from a relative for the trip to England, but likely will spend some time there and then go to Europe for the balance of our stay. We mainly travel by RV in the US and Canada — and tend to be seat-of-our-pants travelers, which has worked well for us. We hope to be able to plan as casually for a trip to UK/Europe. But we appreciate your tips and will take them into account!

Posted by
1026 posts

Based on your FF ticket comment, would strongly suggest you look in to return ticket pricing. I understand your relative gave you FF but as others stated only a few airlines allow one way pricing, all the legacies are double price (internationally ... that changed domestically a while back) for one way so you save nothing. Consider making one a FF RT ticket, and then buying the other one. That would probably give you the most options.

The other thing is all the people saying they have never been asked for proof of return travel. That means literally nothing. The person you need to worry about is not immigration but the airline agent on departure from the US. They have a system they use and one of the inputs in addition to passport/visa etc is "holds onward or return ticket" and if you don't - you don't get on the plane. Because the airline can be fined many thousands of dollars if they board someone who turns out getting denied entry for lack of required documents. Because you are talking about buying a 1 way they will flag you. Last september I bought my SIL two one way tickets using miles (another example of airline bizzareness ... two one ways were like 30,000 miles cheaper than the same exact RT) and she was questioned at the airport. No problem though as the other ticket was in their system under a different PNR.

Posted by
12944 posts

One more data point, though Kaeleku's information is something to consider carefully: I have twice flown to Europe on a one-way frequent-flier ticket with nothing in hand for the return. No one said anything at all. However, it's certainly possible the airline was unconcerned because I had enough miles in my FF account to cover a return ticket on the same airline.

Also, I am retired and look my age, not like a young person who might be planning to backpack around Europe for 6 months or a year, violating the Schengen Zone regulations.

I have twice received extra attention as I left the Schengen Zone. I'm assuming that was because I was near the limit. On one of those occasions it looked as if I had exceeded the 90-day limit until the immigration official found the passport stamps into and out of (non-Schengen) Ukraine.

Posted by
10581 posts

At least two budget carriers (Condor Air and Norwegian) price their flights one way at a time, so you will have no trouble getting a decently-priced flight, but it may not be back to your home airport (which you hanen’t specified). But it would get you close. Norwegian is in shaky financial territory, so would be a second choice for me. We have flown Condor and it was fine.

Iceland Air used to price one-way as well, and my son and his family used them to fly back from Switzerland last August. But some have said they no longer offer this pricing.

Does your relative with all the miles check how much it costs to transfer the miles? Or will they just purchase the tickets for you?

Posted by
11050 posts

I have read of a person being hassled after arriving in London - no return ticket - she was young ( under 30 ) so definitely the type they look at in terms of “ is she planning on overstaying her welcome “ / so while some of the posters here did not get hassled doesn’t mean it won’t happen to someone else ( whonfits a certain profile )

Do you fit the profile ?
I think retired people get hassled less , and young folks get hassled more .