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Roundtrip vs Open Journey

I’ve been watching a lot of RS lately and he often brings up buying an open journey to Europe, where you fly into one city and fly home from another, to save time and money. In my experience, a one way flight to Europe often costs as much if not more than a roundtrip ticket. Am I missing something here? Is there a trick to picking inexpensive one way flights? Do you typically buy roundtrip flights or two mine ways? If you do two one ways, what’s your average price difference? TIA

-Christina

Posted by
24660 posts

Hi Christina, welcome to the Forums.

I think you may have a couple of terms mixed up. I'm glad you asked the question.

An "Open" ticket is a ticket with no fixed date for the return portion, and they tend to be quite expensive, because you hold all the cards and can go home any time.

What you describe "where you fly into one city and fly home from another, to save time and money" is known by some (the term is a little old and not always used or understood by airlines) as Open Jaw - because that is sort of what a diagram of it would look like - and by many airlines as Multi-City or some similar name. It is not a cobbling together of two one-way tickets, it is booked on one ticket, as A to B and C to A, and you make your own way between B and C. If booked correctly it usually prices out at around midway between a round trip A to B and a roundtrip A to C.

If you book it incorrectly, as two one-way tickets it often prices out very expensive.

There are different rules with cheap discount airlines like Wizz, Easyjet, Ryanair, etc., where most flights are priced as one-ways. and you can do what you want.

Does that make any sense?

Posted by
1116 posts

To piggyback on Nigel’s explanation, I’ll give you my example. When SIL and I went to Italy I booked my flights on Delta before she decided to go with me. I booked open jaw Phoenix to Rome, then Venice to Phoenix, both had a layover in Atlanta; all booked on one ticket, easy and straight forward. Computer illiterate SIL’s daughter booked her tickets: round trip PHoenix-Atlanta and on a separate ticket open jaw Rome-Atlanta, then Venice-Atlanta. By some miracle it worked out, but it was nerve racking hoping everything would coordinate.

Edit: I don’t know if SIL’s ticket cost more or how much. Open jaw saved a train trip back to Rome and one night hotel.
If you are looking at airline apps on your phone, not all will show multi-city. It’s best to use their websites on your computer. Sometimes you have to search for “multi city”, American Airlines come to mind. Book directly with the airline, not a 3rd party or consolidator.

Posted by
5537 posts

dancer, booking a multi-city / open jaw ticket is a really great way to have an itinerary that doesn't require you to waste time backtracking to your arrival airport to fly home. An example of a recent trip for us, we flew from our hometown airport to Amsterdam, and then returned from Zurich to our hometown. That was booked as one ticket, with a price that was pretty close to what a roundtrip ticket to either Amsterdam or Zurich would have cost. It may not be cheaper than a roundtrip to either, but in our case it was about 100$US per person more for the open jaw ticket. We would have spent a lot more in time and moeny to get back to Amsterdam for a return flight.

The various third-party booking websites and the airlines own websites all have a multi-city option on their booking page, although its sometimes hard to find the link.

Yes, the term "open jaw" dates back to at least the '70s, and is descriptive, but confusing.

Posted by
3585 posts

The posts above give a good description of the differences between the ticketing options. Like Stan, as I fly from Canada, my multi city flights are rarely more than $100 more than a standard priced return flight. My standard airlines often price out sales as 'one way', so whether return, one way or multi-city, pricing is very similar per 'leg' (A - B, B-C, etc).
If you are new to booking flights, may I suggest a website I like to recommend for flight planning? It doesn't sell tickets, so it is primarily a planning tool. It also accesses schedules for more airlines than say Expedia who sells the airlines that give them kickbacks. it is Matrix ITA. It is the old software travel agents used to research flights. It's one location to review a variety of airline options, so a good place to play with flight bookings or see what might suit you. It does have return, one way, and multi city options. It also allows to search airlines closeby to give you some flexibility. After this, the recommendation is to book directly on the airline website. There is more security booking directly as if things go wrong, you can work with the airlines to fix things up. Important if at the airport. If you book flights through a 3rd party (like Expedia), then if things go wrong, you have to work with them to get new flights, changes, etc, and their phone customer service isn't always wonderful... Just some tips :-)

Posted by
2419 posts

To put it as simply as possible - yes, one way tickets are usually much, much more expensive. There are exceptions but in general yes.
What Rick and many of us advocate are buying an open ticket on one airline, booked together. This is usually the same cost, or only slightly more, sometimes slightly less, than a regular round trip.

When searching, use the “multi-city” option NOT one way. Sometimes you have to dig to find it. On the kayak app, it’s just one of three choices - round trip, one way, or multi city. Choose multi city and do something like Chicago to Rome on Oct 1, Paris to Chicago on October 14. Then you get reasonably priced options. You go on your trip, make your way from Rome to Paris however you want, and fly home from Paris.

All airlines I’ve seen have a multi city option like this. Obviously prices vary. In 2019 I actually saved about $200 per ticket flying into Munich, home from Vienna vs. round trip from either.

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you so much everyone! I have booked a multi city trip in the past but when I did, I was only given the option to book A-B and B-C, I didn’t have the opinion to book A-B and C-A so I assumed all multi city searches followed this criteria. Now that I know Multi city means between any four cities, this completely changes the game. I appreciate all the insight.

Posted by
1745 posts

Others already explained multi-city/open-jaw, so I'll just emphasize: do not just look at price. Sometimes time IS money. Sometimes it is much better to not fly round-trip for a variety of reasons, and vice versa. If I am stuck with round trip and it does not suit my plan ideally, I try to leave town upon arrival and work my way back to put all my time in the arrival/departure city at the end.

Posted by
3585 posts

Christina, if you play with the Matrix ITA website I suggested, you will see you can keep adding 'legs' to your multicity booking....it isn't limited to just 2 legs.
For example, I may book 3 or 4. One to fly to my son's hometown, stay overnight, fly from there to Europe, and then the flight back to my home town. A-B, B-C, D-A or even A-B, B-C, D-B and B-A. Now, at some stage it gets too costly to keep adding, but you can do more than just to Europe and back.
Also, by default, B city fills into the 'From' box on the second leg, but you can change it to somewhere else...

Posted by
34 posts

When I did a multi city booking on southwest there was only one box that represented “city B” so there was no other choice. Also could not add another leg. This was a few years ago though so I just didn’t even think to see if other sites were different. I usually don’t mind booking my travel within Europe separate as cheap flights and trains are very easy to find. But now that I know open jaw journeys can be economical, it opens up many more possibilities

Posted by
95 posts

If you can't figure out the Matrix web site try Kayak.com. Easy multi leg planning can be done there. Worst case get a travel agent.

Also strongly recommend doing the actual booking on the airline web site or even calling them if necessary.

Final point - watch out for code share booking. These are where you see the fine print saying "operated by ZZZ airlines". Avoid when you can and, if you can't, be aware that you could have problems with seat selection and baggage allowance. For example, I had a United booking that code shared with Austrian Air on a return flight from Vienna. Could not get seat selection until 24 hours before checkin. Ended up in a center seat with my wife 10 rows back on the aisle. Not the end of the world but not all that comfortable for a long flight. They also left my luggage in Vienna but that was a more or less normal screw up. Baggage allowances on international legs are usually OK but intra Europe flights are often much lower leading to exorbitant extra charges.

Posted by
2150 posts

Note that on Southwest, or for that matter I believe any US airline flying domestically, you do buy individual tickets for each leg. you can get roundtrip tickets with both legs on the same record, and the price should be the same as individual tickets (for example, I just priced on American Philadelphia to San Francisco Sept 21, $188.40, San Francisco to Philadelphia Sept 28, $188.40, and this as a round trip on those dates $376.80). It is for the international flights that one way tickets are not sold by the major airlines except at a ridiculous premium, and open-jaw/mulit-city is an excellent option. You can get separate tickets for the same price with smaller airlines such as Icelandair, Norwegian, I believe SAS, AerLingus to name a few.

Posted by
829 posts

I use Google Flights to search out Multi-city flights. Often there is no price difference. Good luck doing your research!

Posted by
6104 posts

We have booked “multi city” flights for years. Less expensive, time and effort saving.

Posted by
404 posts

We almost always book multi-city flights. Even if they are MORE expensive. Often the time to backtrack to the original city adds up fast (hotel, food, transportation, etc). Not to mention potentially losing a travel day to get back to where you started.

One caution is that if you are renting a car, you should rent and return the car in the same country to avoid VERY expensive fees. As an example, on one trip where we flew into Frankfurt and picked up a rental car. Spent three weeks driving through Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Northern Italy before heading back to Munich. We saved almost $1,000 on the rental car be flying out of Munich instead of Italy. And the multi-city flight was only $35 more than a round trip flight from Frankfurt.

Posted by
4180 posts

We’ve made Open Jaw flight plans many times, which provided convenience and often saved some money. Not having to take a train, or to drive back to the original airport, saves on train ticket or rental car fuel prices. It also let us have an extra day in Europe, not having to backtrack to the original city.

Sometimes, though, just doing a round trip made good sense, if we were doing a circular trip on land anyway. Two trips in 2018 were like that. In April, we landed in Athens at night, slept that night in a hotel, and left on a ferry the next morning for an island. A couple days later, we returned to mainland Greece, rented a car, and drove a clockwise trip over the next 2 weeks, returning to Athens for our last 3 nights.

In September, we flew in to Dublin, and immediately departed on a bus for the western side of Ireland. We spent the next 3 weeks driving clockwise around Ireland to the north, than back down to Dublin, where we turned in the rental car and spent the last 3 days of the trip.

On an earlier trip to Ireland, we flew in and out of separate cities, and for a 2019 trip to Greece, we did Open Jaw as well, so it depends where you’re going, as well as the cost and the time required. Of course, every trip to Europe has left us with our mouths open in amazement at the beauty, the amusing history, the fun, the good people, the food, and the experiences, so in that way, we’ve had open jaws on every trip!

Posted by
12160 posts

My April trip on Turkish Air which is

IAH to IST to TGD

Then

BUD to IAH

is cheaper than a simple round trip to Istanbul on Turkish Air.

Posted by
2150 posts

One of the nonsensical things about airfare pricing. The same airline will fly you further, with more handing of you and your luggage, with more service provided, and for less money than a shorter round trip. We have experienced this also with Lufthansa and American.

Posted by
9083 posts

If you find the "Matrix" website confusing just go to http://www.google.com/flights

It's the same thing. (Google owns Matrix).

You can add as many legs as you want on a multi-city ticket.

What I do is go to Google Flights to see what is available and then book it directly with the airline. I don't like dealing with third parties regarding airline tickets. You may save money if everything works out. But if you have a problem, it may be nearly impossible to get it fixed. The airline may refer you to the third party seller. I'd prefer to deal directly with the airline.

Posted by
1593 posts

Final point - watch out for code share booking. These are where you
see the fine print saying "operated by ZZZ airlines". Avoid when you
can and, if you can't, be aware that you could have problems with seat
selection and baggage allowance.

I disagree about the need to avoid code shares. They are a great way to avoid self transfers when travelling somewhere that needs multiple airlines. They are also a good way to get a larger selection of flights, especially if you don't live near a major airport. Just make sure you read the rules.

Baggage allowances on international legs are usually OK but intra
Europe flights are often much lower leading to exorbitant extra
charges.

If you fly low cost airlines or buy really cheap tickets from flag carriers, yes. But with a normal ticket that is usually not the case, then the baggage allowance are usually the same on intra european flights as on intercontinental ones.

It is for the international flights that one way tickets are not sold
by the major airlines except at a ridiculous premium, and
open-jaw/mulit-city is an excellent option. You can get separate
tickets for the same price with smaller airlines such as Icelandair,
Norwegian, I believe SAS, AerLingus to name a few.

For intercontinental flights, most (all?) European airlines only sell single tickets at a premium and it can many times be cheaper to buy a return ticket and only use half of it. For intra-european flights however, most airlines only sell singles, and return tickets are simply the price of two singles. One exception to this is KLM, last time I checked (pre covid) they only sold return tickets (even if their website tried to make it look like they sold singles).

Posted by
4180 posts

One thing about buying a round-trip ticket and only using half of it - and I’ve never done this, so can’t confirm if it’s a problem, but:

I’ve heard that in the past, after so many passengers had used that strategy, airlines started monitoring this, and somehow penalized passengers who didn’t follow through on completing both parts of the round-trip purchase - as if they were breaking a contract. The airline got stuck with an empty seat on what was supposed to be your flight home. Maybe that’s still an issue, maybe not, but something to consider.

Posted by
12160 posts

One of the nonsensical things about airfare pricing. The same airline
will fly you further, with more handing of you and your luggage, with
more service provided, and for less money than a shorter round trip.

Maybe on the surface, but they are probably trying to maintain routes by discounting lesser booked destinations and maybe airport taxes differ in one location vs another. What ever it is there is logic behind it.

Openjaw; good
Code Share; good
Luggage Charges; good

Posted by
553 posts

When I went to Italy I ended up flying round trip from Detroit to Rome and using trains to see other towns; In Greece I flew round trip to Athens and used buses and boats to see other locations. The decision of round trip versus open jaw or leave and arrive from different cities should depend on costs versus what towns you want to see versus availability of flights from small airports versus what logically possible itineraries in terms of ground transportation look most rational with little or no backtracking.

On my last major trip I flew from Detroit to Amsterdam and ten on the way back from Brussels back to Detroit. Write yourself an approximate itinerary before you search for plane tickets and see what looks most appealing or most rational - arriving and leaving from the same city versus leave from a city different than the city you arrived at. Do you have a specific trip you want to plan? That would help. If you do a round trip, you just select "round trip" when buying plane tickets; if seeing towns far from the city you arrive in, take ground transportation to a town away from the city you arrive and work your way back so you see the city you arrive and leave from, last.

To do what I did using my last major trip as an example, starting and ending in Detroit as an example, searching on google flights or airline websites, you would select the "multi city" options, then search for Detroit to Amsterdam as your first flight, and Brussels to Detroit as the second flight; also search for the reverse, Detroit to Brussels and Amsterdam to Detroit. See which has the best price versus most rational considering number of layovers versus length of layovers versus total trip duration. Do not buy two one way tickets in two separate transactions, which I guess would be technically legal but irrational and badly priced.

I have not heard of such a thing as a plane ticket that has no return date which lets you pick whenever you want to leave at the last minute. I have to request time off work for a trip; I cannot have my return date be random or left to decide at the last minute; I make my hotel reservations in advance.

Posted by
12160 posts

Google Flights can be fun to help you think out of the box. Pick your arrival city in Europe, lets say its Budapest:

In Google Flights

Departing Budapest, Arriving Europe
One Way
Non-Stop
Under $100

Now you have all the places that you can reach from Budapest non-stop for under $100. Hmmmm Sarajevo looks fascinating.

Departing Sarajevo, Arriving Europe
One Way
Non-Stop
Under $100

ISTANBUL!!!!

Final Trip

Houston to Budapest to Sarajevo to Istanbul and back to Houston
Houston to Budapest and Sarajevo to Istanbul is Turkish Air multi City open jaw.
Budapest to Sarajevo is WizzAir.

Actually did this trip in 2019. Airfare was less than an RT flight to Budapest.

Posted by
38 posts

I would just like to add a thanks for the question and so many great responses. I am now trembling with not being able to push the Purchase button yet... I did a little research after reading this post and want to buy tickets now!! Oh how I hope the vaccine brings us back to travel!

Posted by
1593 posts

I’ve heard that in the past, after so many passengers had used that
strategy, airlines started monitoring this, and somehow penalized
passengers who didn’t follow through on completing both parts of the
round-trip purchase - as if they were breaking a contract. The airline
got stuck with an empty seat on what was supposed to be your flight
home. Maybe that’s still an issue, maybe not, but something to
consider.

I've not heard that, but what I have heard is that (some) airlines are trying to penalize people who buy a ticket from A to C via B when they want to travel from A to B and then just walk out of the airport instead of taking the connecting flight. That causes trouble for the airlines as a passenger is missing.

Posted by
3489 posts

In case you haven't found it, the site is:

matrix.itasoftware.com

Specify the currency you want.

Several years ago it was purchased by Google. In my unscientific approach, I found more info on the Matrix than on Google Flights.
Thanks to the plague, that was a long time ago....

Posted by
3612 posts

We’ve been booking open jaw flights since our first Rick Steves tour in 2003. For many years, the advantage was that flying into one location and out another location allowed us to enjoy that final extra day of vacation instead of spending the final day backtracking to the first location.

Posted by
34 posts

Michelle-

I feel the same way! I’m actually quite a savvy traveler and do not know how I missed this multi-city hack. I have since done a ton of research and playing around and now there are at least a dozen new vacations I want to go on. I really hope travel resumes soon

Posted by
1239 posts

The other thing to remember about flights is: If you book a flight to Europe from your home destination , for example, and have to change planes midway..ie: two flights to get you to your first night's stay, make sure they are booked on the same ticket.
Just for example: LA to Rome, but having to change planes in Munich....make sure that both flights are on the same ticket, and ideally the same airline.
That's because if your first flight is late and you miss the connection, the airline will get you on the next available flight to your final destination.

Let us know what you have booked for your trip!

Posted by
12160 posts

make sure they are booked on the same ticket.

While that sounds obvious, there are some discount ticket sites that will set you up on two seperate tickets. That can be dangerous. I generally find it cheaper, but not always, to use a major carrier to get over there then use a discount carrier like Wizzair or similar to get around once in Europe. But the discount airline connection is always days later so missing flights is not an issue.

Posted by
72 posts

If you're covering a lot of ground, open jaw is the only way to go. Often, if you bundle the multi-destination with a hotel or two, the package can be quite reasonable. When I book, I might not have the whole trip mapped out but having the beginning and the end nailed helps. I like knowing where I'm going after I get off the plane and before I get on to come home. I find it helpful for planning the logistics and transfers.

I agree with others to fly the same airlines for the entire leg of a trip. Even with a code-share airlines there can be trouble. Tight connections can be nerve wracking. Our experience has been that the US domestic legs have been the worst. I try to plan it so our first leg gets us out of the country.

Posted by
20919 posts

I think you have to be very careful about making any sweeping claim about airline ticket pricing polices. Several upthread statements may not be totally accurate. Historically nearly all of our European trips are open jaw, multi-city bookings. Always found the tickets to be with a hundred dollars plus or minus of the equal round trip ticket. And always believed that two one ways are going to be more expensive than either an open jaw or RT. BUT --- last year found that two one way tickets on United between Denver and Vancouver was about 30% cheaper than the RT. Absolutely have no idea as to why unless I accidentally caught a promotional fare. So you really need to check all option. There are no absolute rules covering airline ticket pricing. And I have done as many as six legs on one ticket over a two week period that provide a huge amount of savings. Run all the angles.

Posted by
12160 posts

Frank is correct. You have to pick every trip down into little pieces and check all the options and variables.

Another pitfall are the advertised ticket prices. With Turkish Air the ticket cost might $X, while on American they might advertise $200 less but when you go to purchase it they hut you with luggage and seat fees that make the ticket more than Turkish Air.

My AA flight to Hawaii in Dec was $435.00 RT. + $60 for a checked bag + $140 for seats. Neither you MUST purchase .... but ....

Posted by
308 posts

For most of us Americans ( and I would think, Canadians, Australians, etc.) travel to Europe is a big deal. While I enjoy a good deal as much as the next person, I am not going to let a few hundred dollar difference in airline fares dictate where I go on my trip. If my trip is going to start in Paris and end up in Prague, I will fly home from Prague. I will not waste a day of my vacation returning to Paris so I can save $100 on the airfare. Besides, that return to Paris is not free.

Just my 2¢, but I think too many travelers are hung up on getting the best deal on airline fares and don't look at the big picture. I have known people with only two weeks of vacation who literally chew up two more days with travel time to save $120 on the price of a round trip. Sure, I like to save money. But, I will do it by having more picnics and fewer restaurant meals, visiting sites off-peak when admission fees might be lower, taking public transit instead of a taxi, and using my no ATM fee debit card.

I learned this the hard way years ago. I had booked my flights and saved about $100 on my return flight by leaving at 6:00 AM from the local airport. But, what I didn't realize is that the $8 airport bus did not start service until 5:30 AM, far to late for me to make my flight. So I spent 1/2 of my savings - $50 - on a taxi to the airport. And them more of my saving on food at the airport since I had to skip the hotel breakfast. Then more of my savings were spent on a small meal during my 4 hour layover for a connecting flight. I maybe saved $20 when it was all over. Wasn't I the smart one??? I think not.

Overall, I agree with most people above. Check the airfares yourself. Figure out which is the best value for your goals, and enjoy your vacation.

Posted by
12160 posts

I've been doing an awful lot of "he's/she's is right" these days, but Barnstormer; he's right.

Posted by
3023 posts

It is for the international flights that one way tickets are not sold by the major airlines except at a ridiculous premium

This is not true for award tickets to Europe on any airline, or on Icelandair and Condor Airlines flights to Europe, or often on the major American airlines flying to Europe. Avoiding one-way tickets is really 2000 era advice, and it hasn't been true to say "avoid buying 2 one-way tickets" when flying to Europe really for 2 decades now.

Here's my history, and it was the cheapest ticket

2001: 2 one-ways on Icelandair
2014: 2 one-ways on Icelandair
2015: one-way Icelandair, one-way Condor
2017: RT on Delta
2018: one-way award ticket Delta, one-way Icelandair

So in 5 trips only 1 was cheaper purchased as 1 ticket, although if we add last spring's aborted trip it would be 2 out of 6 cheaper as 1 ticket.

In other words, check the pricing purchasing 2 one-way tickets vs 1 multi-city ticket. And if the price is the same, buying 2 one-ways gives a person more rights if there’s a snafu on the outbound leg, then the return is unaffected.

Posted by
12160 posts

I am going to stick with Barnstormer on this one. Its not about the cheapest ticket. What's another $150 on a $4,000 trip?

I want the fewest connections and the most direct route,
I have 3 airports I can leave out of. I will pay a bit more to leave out of the one most convenient.
I want at least a 1.5 hour connection if in the US and at least a 2.5 hour connection if in Europe.

I don't want to have to deal with Heathrow or Chucky D. If it becomes a necessity add at least 30 minutes to the minimum connection time.

I want to arrive at my destination in Europe before 2pm and I want to arrive at an airport convenient to my first stop.

Sometimes I will check a bag. When I am doing that I know that with the discount airlines the cheap advertised rates are not real, because a bag will cost me another $60 each way.

Also I am aware that with some airlines there will be seat reservation charges. I am particular about seats, so I expect to pay them too.

I have two airlines that I like, so I will pay a bit more to be on them (Delta/KLM/Air France & Turkish AIr/Albania Air).

Posted by
5537 posts

I'm thinking that piecing together a European trip with one way fares that is less than multi-city, is probably only an option for people flying from gateway (US) cities, where there is competition from budget airlines. Once you have to make a connection in the US (as I do), any less expensive options disappear. At least that's what I've seen from here. Thoughts?

Posted by
3023 posts

Stan: All my domestic trips now are one-ways: American to NYC and United return, Delta to DC and Southwest return, Sun Country to California and United return— I’m not buying roundtrip or multicity much anymore, just whatever flights make the most sense (time, cost).

You may be right about what you say about MCI fares to Europe but that may change when Icelandair arrives/returns. If Icelandair or Condor or Aer Lingus is offering one-way pricing to Europe, US airlines likely match it.

It’s subtle, but the advantage to buying one-ways comes across when there’s a problem outbound and you miss your flight or have to change it. Then you don’t have to repurchase the return flight also since the tickets are independent. Or if the outbound flight is canceled, you can get a refund and fly another airline knowing the return flight is not encumbered by what happens outbound.

Posted by
17900 posts

It's perhaps worth mentioning here that those with frequent-flyer miles on at least some airlines can book one-way trips to and from Europe at half the mileage cost of a round-trip (though that amount varies with demand). This would allow mixing different airline allowances if there were insufficient miles available from any one allowance. I have not only done that twice, I have waited until I was actually in Europe to figure what airport I'd be returning from and booked the second flight midway through the trip. I realize this wouldn't be practical for short trips, and it helps that there are flights back to DC from quite a few European gateways.

Posted by
1239 posts

Another vote for Barnstormer's comments.

Posted by
11203 posts

Yet another "Like" for Barnstormer's post. You really do have to consider ALL the factors - time, money, and hassle - when choosing which is the "best" flight for a trip. His example, of having to spend a lot of money on transit and food, as well as a lot of hassle, because of his "cheap" flight, is one I've seen repeated often.

Posted by
2455 posts

Another thumbs up to Barnstormer’s wise philosophy. Makes “cents.” ;) As mentioned, many creative ways to save $$ without sacrificing along the way.

Posted by
5500 posts

Seconding acraven's point about using miles -- if/when we can fly again I plan to use miles to book one-way TO Europe and then while in Europe book a return flight from wherever we decide to finish on whatever date looks good (retired so time is extremely flexible.)

Posted by
3023 posts

and then while in Europe book a return flight

Just a note that I did send my son to Europe on a one-way points ticket and he was challenged by the airline to show proof of return ticket (by FinnAir), although proof of onward ticket is not a Schengen requirement. Fortunately I had already bought a fully refundable SAS ticket to the UK we never intended to use just for this contingency. Maybe something a young person needs to keep in mind.

Adding that I think I read that all 4 major US airlines now offer free redeposit of points from canceled award tickets (definitely American, Southwest, Delta) so you can always book something in advance, although it maybe wait for the taxes to be refunded if you cancel and rebook.

Posted by
20919 posts

I think it is mostly his age and young people that get challenged on one-way ticket. We are often on one-way ff tickets with no scheduled return and have never been questioned about return tickets. May happen sometime but they just look at the gray hair and just wave us through.

Posted by
34 posts

While I agree that you have to weigh your savings against the opportunity costs, it’s important to remember not everyone has such a large budget. Saving $120 in a $4000 budget might not be a lot but in a $1200 budget it is a significant amount.

However, the main reason I asked this question was because I always only priced out one way vs round trip, not multi city, and the prices were always vastly different. A direct RT flight from Philly to Dublin would cost $500 but a one way from Philly to Dublin would come up as $550. I would try this out with multiple cities and come up with the same result every time. So that’s why just returning to my arrival city seemed to make the most financial sense to me.

One of my first solo(ish) trips to Europe I flew RT to Dublin then flew to Germany, took a bus to Prague, flew to London, then to Budapest, then back to London, then finally flew back to Dublin to fly home in the morning. My trip was only 12 days long as well. This trip was extremely inefficient (although there were some unexpected hiccups that helped make it that way) but I learned a lot from the mistakes and was able to plan a much more practical route for my trip a year after. Now that I know about using multi city for open jaw trips, I can be even more efficient with my travels while potentially saving money. It’s like the best of both worlds

Posted by
5500 posts

If you can use United miles on a round trip they used to let you book an intermediate flight within Europe for no extra miles -- so home to A, B to C, D to home.