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Too Risky to buy a 1-way ticket into Europe?

I am looking to spend about 3 weeks or so in the south of France, however, I don't know exactly what date to come home b/c I'm not sure how much time my daughter and I will want to be there exploring the area. It will be our first time in Europe, so we don't know how much time we will want to spend there and don't want to cut the trip short. Is it too risky to just get a 1-way ticket there and wait til we're ready to come home to buy a ticket home?
Will it be really expensive to do it that way?

Posted by
1589 posts

Get a round trip- much cheaper and less problematic.

Posted by
2876 posts

Buy a round-trip. If you have to or want to change the return date, all you'll have to pay is a change fee. The cost of a round-trip ticket plus a change fee is likely to be much less than the cost of two one-way tickets.

Posted by
21666 posts

I know at one time you could buy a ticket with an open return. You should check with a live person at the airline that you probably would use. See if they have a recommendation for you. Buying one way tickets is expensive and buying last minute one way tickets is very expensive. This may be a case where you may have to limit your trip.

Posted by
9363 posts

Besides the additional cost of two one-way tickets, not having a return ticket may raise some eyebrows when you arrive in France. They want to know for sure that you are leaving, and not planning on perhaps looking for work.

Posted by
963 posts

Please go to an airline site such as Delta or Continental and price a one way flight- for example, a Nice- Pittsburgh. You may be astonished. When I get excited about the low fares for cruise ship repositioning fares, I use this exercise to reduce my temporary travel insanity.

Posted by
35 posts

If you are using a discount carrier (which I'm assuming since you are looking at 1-way fares), maybe book a cheaper non-refundable one-way ticket to France and then a slightly more expensive flexible fare one-way return trip. Then if you wish to change your dates you won't have to pay a change fee.

Posted by
4647 posts

To answer your question, "Will it be really expensive ..." Probably Yes. Have you priced one-way tickets yet? With a few exceptions on the discount airlines, most of the time a one-way transatlantic ticket costs as much or more than a round-trip. You can buy a fully-refundable and changeable return ticket, but these are often ridiculous prices. For example, was looking at a round trip ticket to London that was about $800 today. I checked the fully refundable price and it was $2900. You can also buy a non-refundable round-trip ticket that allows a change with penalty. You will pay the change fee (usually between $150 and $250 on international flights on the major airlines). If the price has increased, the airline will also charge you any fare difference. For example, if you buy a $1000 ticket today and on the date that you make the change the ticket is selling for $1500, you will usually pay the fare difference of $500 plus the change fee. Most people who are on a budget just buy non-refundable tickets and stick with the dates they choose.

Posted by
68 posts

We don't want to have to pay a lot more by keeping the leave date open, and we definitely do not want to stick out by not having a return ticket! Will take the advice given! Thank you

Posted by
4647 posts

In the days right after 9/11, I was flying weekly for business. I noticed that my boarding pass used to be marked differently whenever I had changed my flight or had a one-way ticket. I think it used to always have "CLR" or "CLEAR" or something like that printed on it for "normal" tickets and something else for changed tickets. In these cases, I was always picked for the extra screening at the gate that they used to do. Back then, there was often a cadre of security agents at the gate (always on flights to DC) and when they scanned the pass, sometimes you would get pulled for a check. I haven't really noticed anything different recently. When they do gate checks, it always seems to be random. I've only had a problem once with one-way tickets recently. In 2010, I had two separate one-way tickets for my trip to Europe. I had used frequent flyer miles for both and they were not linked. The only special thing that happened is that on my flight from IAD to LHR, I was not able to check in online or at the kiosk. I got the "see agent" message. I then had to queue up to check in. I did tell the agent that I had a separate one-way ticket home as I'd used FF miles and I think she noted that. After that, no issues. I've never noticed anything different on one-way tickets on intra-European flights. I've only had one issue ever when I was asked to show my return ticket to immigration. It was about 25 years ago in the UK when I was young and backpacking. I didn't have a return ticket as I was flying standby, but the immigration officer was satisfied when I pulled out my credit card and all my travellers checks.

Posted by
2828 posts

Airlines flying to Europe will most likely not allow you to board a one-way flight to Europe if you don't have documents supporting your right to say indefinitely in the country. Moreover, it is against immigration regulations: you can't just enter Schengen area for a short visit (up to 90 days) without a return ticket! You risk be denied enter and returned to US in the next available flight. Works the same way around: Europeans can't just book a one-way flight into US and see what happens before deciding when to come back. If you find a very discounted ticket to Europe, buy it. At the worst case scenario, you ditch the inward part, and buy another new ticket (also a non-refundable return) to come back.

Posted by
9110 posts

'Airlines flying to Europe will most likely not allow you to board a one-way flight to Europe if you don't have documents supporting your right to say indefinitely in the country' Bad quess. What if you're going to fly in and take a boat home. Or you're going to enter somehow and leave for home from a non-Schengen country. ...... or..... the possibilites are endless. Airlines will sell you a one-way ticket any time you want to buy one. 'it is against immigration regulations: you can't just enter Schengen area for a short visit (up to 90 days) without a return ticket! You risk be denied enter and returned to US in the next available flight.' Nope. Schengen 2,5 1 (c) is as close as it comes: 'if applicable, submits documents substantiating the purpose and the conditions of the planned visit and has sufficient means of support, both for the period of the planned visit and to return to their country of origin or to travel in transit in a Third State, into which their admission is guaranteed, or is in a position to acquire such means legally' So much for the hypothetical. I don't know how many times I've entered the zone since the agreement was implemented. For the last ten or twelve years, I've probably entered the zone a half dozen times annually and from all directions. If that works out to be sixty or seventy times, I've only had a ticket out once or twice. More importantly, in none of the everhow many times that was have I ever been asked how I planned leave, much less asked to produce evidence of it.

Posted by
1892 posts

So when you are ready to come home you plan to just call the airline and buy a ticket... Reality check time! If I got to the basic travel websites today to buy a one way ticket from Paris to Pittsburgh for next Saturday the best fare is $1,818 and that's with two stops. And of course that's in January. Fares tend to be lower in January. You don't want to pay a change fee, I expect you don't want to pay $2000 to get home either. That means you have to decide your arrival and departure date and stick to them. Sorry!

Posted by
35 posts

I just looked on the Icelandair site to check prices. In July (You didn't say when you are going), a one-way flight from Pittsburgh to Paris would be $534. A one-way return flight about 3 weeks later would be $658 for a regular economy ticket or $834 for an "Economy Flex" ticket that would allow you to change flights for a $75 fee. You wouldn't have to pay thousands to have the flexibility to change flights, but it will cost you something. And w/ Icelandair you'd have to switch planes twice enroute both ways. Having the flexibility wouldn't be worth the extra $ and hassle to me, but I'm an uberplanner who likes to have everything squared away.

Posted by
2876 posts

Just my thoughts, but it seems like if TSA had a problem with one-way tickets there'd be some sort of questioning or screening at the time of purchase. Or at least you'd be given some kind of notice that you might be subject to additional screening on flight day. For what it's worth, I don't recall anyone ever posting on this board that they flew on a one-way ticket and had any sort of trouble, or knew anyone that did..

Posted by
8976 posts

I don't know that one-way tickets specifically raise red-flags, but the airlines do put special codes on boarding passes that the TSA agents look for. These codes may result in extra scrutiny at the security clearance. It's possible that OW tickets could trigger this????

Posted by
1892 posts

"He said 1. Bought a one way ticket 2. Bought ticket at last minute before flight 3.Paid cash 4. No luggage of any kind." Due to business I fly on one way tickets quite a lot. They alone are NOT a security flag. The real flags in the case above were 2- 4. Those are flags! Cash really gets the TSA nervous since they live in this fanstasy world were terrorists fly using their known names and would NEVER know how to steal an identity to fly as "Carolla" (it would be funny if it weren't sad!)

Posted by
9110 posts

I'm missing what the big deal is on being flagged. So what? Since I wander around so much, my exposure is probably higher than that of the average bear, but I must get random/detail seached at least a dozen times a year. The most that's ever happened is that I lost a pocket knife that was caught up in the corner of something. I've never missed a flight. Nor have I ever had to scurry to the gangway in my underbritches. What difference does it make if you stand around at the security area or at the gate?

Posted by
4647 posts

Ed, you are right. It is not a big deal to get "flagged". Just gets you an extra pat down/wanding and some rifling through the bags.