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purchasing airline tickets when return date is unknown

I need some advise on booking airline tickets... departure is not a problem, but I don't have a specific return date in mind (or departure city)... kind of flying by the seat of my pants. One-way tickets are pretty much the same cost as round trip tickets in my experience, and I would definitely rather have the $$$ for traveling. Has anyone had any experience with booking round trip flights, and cancelling/delaying the return date? I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can be extremely flexible, I just don't want to book round-trip and be stuck into coming home when I'm not ready!
Any advise is GREATLY appreciated!

Posted by
3580 posts

It may depend on how much delay there is in your departure date, but several years ago I paid United Airlines $100 to change my departure date. I had decided that I wanted to spend a few days in my departure city.

Posted by
2783 posts

You can always change your return date, but as the post above said that the airlines will change. But it really want to stay longer then paying the fee would be worth it and it be cheaper then having to pay for a one way ticket. I know some airlines did allow you to buy a round trip ticket with a open return date, not sure if they still do that.

Posted by
4555 posts

Part of the problem is that the cheaper the ticket, the fewer (if any) chances you have to change it. Each carrier will have a range of prices...the more costly, the more flexible they are in allowing changes. So you may find that whatever saving you realize by being able to change your return date/city will be eaten up by the fact you aren't taking advantage of the lowest price available. As you sift through airline fares, they will make it pretty clear what options each ticket has for changes, and how much it may cost to make those changes. And don't assume that two one-way fares are the same as one round-trip ticket on transatlantic flights. A quick check for September shows one-way JFK-Madrid on Delta is $1300. Round trip, coming back two weeks later, is only $823 for the full journey!

Posted by
251 posts

Last I heard you weren't allowed to fly into Europe on a one-way ticket. And though I have stayed in France for years w/o a visa I have always had to show my return ticket and many times travel agents wouldn't let me buy a one way, and many discount internet sites won't either.

Everytime I have gone to Europe it has been with the intention of workig & living. What I usually do is buy a ticket thay flys into one city and out the other and get it for as long as I can possibly can (usually 3 months, because that is what a tourist visa is). Then I have the option if I don't find a job or get tired of travelling, or want to visit my family. I can use the return ticket. If not I throw it away and buy another round-trip France-U.S.-France to fly home, and throw that portion away.

You might also try Airhitch. I flew to Europe my first time that way. I believe, since they are stand by, that they offer one-way at a great! price. Of course you have to be flexible.