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Why Does One-Way Cost More?

I checked the fares between two EU countries for a trip in the late summer. Round Trip is almost half price compared to a One-way ticket. On one of the major search engines some airlines or flights which listed RT flights didn't come up at all when checked one way. Why? And if I change my plans and end up taking a boat back are the Round Trip Ticket Police going to come looking for me?

Posted by
21164 posts

Just because. Need a another reason? Some airline sell only one way tickets such as Southwest. But for the most part one way can be very expensive. They might and they generally have that right by contract. But have never heard of them doing so. Who is to say that you just missed the plane?

Posted by
25571 posts

It would be helpful, James, if you gave a bit more detail. It has been my experience that most airlines intra-Europe now follow the budget airlines model of single segments, except for particular specials.

Perhaps you could share the city pair with us and we can assist with a budget airline with a fare you might prefer. Is it somewhere other than Budapest?

As a long-time regular poster here I am sure that you are aware that nobody will give you an answer encouraging you to break a law.

Posted by
3522 posts

Did you use the ITA Matrix site: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/search.htm? It includes small European airlines as well as the biggies. I could not replicate your results in my experiment. I tried both within Spain and from Madrid to Rome. I tried both with the "Only show flights and prices with available seats" box checked and empty. My dates were 9/29/2014 only and with a return on 10/30/2014. One way was consistently cheaper. However, one way was more expensive for the US to Europe experiment I did. My experiments may not be relevant due to your departure and destination locations or to the airlines you prefer to fly.

In 2011 I priced out a trip with the following flights: Tucson-->Lisbon (via Philadelphia)-->Florence-->Stuttgart and Basel-->Tucson (via Frankfurt and Philadelphia). Using the major carriers was double the cost of using them only for the Tucson to Lisbon and Basel to Tucson parts. Using 3, as it turned out, different small European airlines for the Lisbon to Florence to Stuttgart part, even with having to change airlines in Madrid to get to Florence, was what cut the price in half.

Posted by
2525 posts

Illogical or a revenue generator...choose one or both. I purchased a round trip ticket once that was cheaper than the one way fare. I tossed the return portion and remain jail free to date. It would be courteous to alert the airline in question as to the vacant seat(s). Interesting as my mother was unable to make her return flight to the U.S. and the airline employee's comment when I called in advance was to the effect, "Oh well."

Posted by
12326 posts

Nigel, see now, that's a good question. Would it be breaking the law? If I buy a RT ticket and I meet a stunning woman with a private jet who says, "fly with me big boy". Am I breaking some law by not using the other half of the ticket? Or am I breaking some greater natural law if I turn her down?

When looking for flights I generally look at the major search engines and I also go to the airport page and check their arrivals and departures to see if some small airline that is not on the major search engines also has a flight. More often than not once I have selected a flight using the search engine I go to the airline web page to purchase the ticket. Always the same price (so far) and one fewer middlemen.

Here is an example: June 10 Bucharest to Sofia, returning on the 17th. Austrian Airlines $289. Make that one way Bucharest to Sofia on the same day and the cheapest is $504. Now on this particular combo there are options other than Austrian Air, but don't blame them because I have seen other airlines on other connections doing the same thing. This is from Orbitz, I haven't checked with the airline's own website.

Posted by
2081 posts

james.

from what i understand, if you book a R/T ticket and dont use the other return part, there is not much that can be done. You may loose the cash value of that ticket or have to spend more $$$ to make a change.

But you will need to look at the individual airlines policy.

happy trails.

just so you know this isnt anything special. some lodgings will charge you double occupancy price even if you are there solo. Im looking at a trip thru Monument Valley and the outfitters will charge me "double occupancy" even tho im going solo. Their reasoning is that they have to setup/buy/outfit for 2 persons anyway, so they will charge that. To me, buying for one or two should be a difference, but they are making it so. Its something that you have to put up with traveling and being solo.

also, airlines like banks can write their own ticket/fees. If you look at at your ticket, you will notice a "fuel surcharge" that is still there from the high gas prices. eventho the airlines buy their fuel in bulk/commodity and year(s) in advance we are still paying for that surcharge. im sure given time, they will charge us for using their air.

when booking your flights too, be aware some airlines are getting tricky in charges/fee/stealing $$$ from you. the last time i used British Airways, i got screwed for 10 (?) Pounds. It was a seat selection fee. The catch was that you cant complete the checkout w/o selecting a seat. gotcha. The other airline i used over there didnt make any charge UNLESS you wanted to select a specific seat.

Posted by
5198 posts

More information would be helpful as to what you are trying to do and what issues might prevent you from planning ahead. But to assume some things....

You mention round trip, then two countries, and one way... are you maybe trying to fly from the US to say London, then maybe Rome to the US? If so then do not search for one way tickets each way, search for an Open-Jaw ticket or the Multicity option on most search engines. The cost will be closer to an average of the round-trip tickets to each city, not the sum of one way tickets.

In some cases, if your two cities are not serviced by the same airline or code share airlines, then try a ticket consolidator (Air Gorilla as an exampe) they can more easily mix and match segments to get you what you need, again at the cost of an open jaw ticket, not two one ways.

As for not using portions of tickets; it is strictly against the terms of carraige issued with any ticket. If you miss a leg of any journey, the remaining segements will likely be cancelled. If you were to skip the last leg...such as a return to the US from Europe, the rules of carraige may allow an airline to charge you the difference between the ticket you purchased and a one way ticket, or at the very least a change fee.

Posted by
12326 posts

Paul, see the bold type in my post above. Nothing fancy, just a return trip between two European capitals. Nothing more and nothing less. There is a chance that my plans will take me further afield with no need for the return ticket. I wont know until I get there.

Posted by
1994 posts

I bought an RT Ticket on Air France for a one way journey. Saved a ton of money. And I even told them what I was going to do. They were fine with it. This was an intra-European flight a little over a year ago.

Posted by
17936 posts

"rules of carraige may allow an airline to charge you the difference between the ticket you purchased and a one way ticket"

How are they going to enforce it? Spend thousand of $$ on a lawyer to collect a $300 difference?

Some years ago, there was a low cost airline flying from Colo. Springs to eastern cities. United matched the fares from Colo. Springs but their only flights to those cities connected through Denver, so people from Denver would book Colo. Springs to the eastern city, take the flight from the Springs but get off in Denver on the way back. United at first threatened that they would charge them extra for not flying United from Denver to Colo. Springs but realized how stupid they would look and dropped it.

And as Frank points out, if you "miss" the return flight because you overslept, got caught in traffic, had a flat tire, or simply forgot, are they going to allow you take a later flight?

Posted by
4522 posts

rules of carraige may allow an airline to charge you the difference
between the ticket you purchased and a one way ticket"

How are they going to enforce it? Spend thousand of $$ on a lawyer to
collect a $300 difference?

Well in theory they could simply charge your credit card the extra fare. Similar to how rental car agencies work. But as noted, rarely do they try and recoup the extra costs. I suspect if you were a frequent flyer and did it often, they might catch on. They theoretically could cancel your frequent flier account too if you used your FF No.

Posted by
1829 posts

"the last time i used British Airways, i got screwed for 10 (?) Pounds. It was a seat selection fee. The catch was that you cant complete the checkout w/o selecting a seat. gotcha."

Use BA at least 4 times a year and never had this happen to me. When I do the 24 hour on-line check in it shows the allocated seat numbers which can be changed if others are available. No extra charge for allocated or changed seats.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Linda,

Maybe they wised up or had alot of complaints.

another thing that happened on that same ticket. I was trying to go from Paris to AMS and if i booked the flight as one ticket, there was a stop @ LHR and the ticket was 200 USD more before checkout. So i booked the flight as 2 separate tickets with the same layover w/o the 200 extra charge. Im not sure why it did that, but at the same time they did the seat charge.

Im thinking that BA needed to screw me out of more $$$.

I wont use BA unless they are the ONLY game in town. I will spend more $$ to avoid them.

Happy trails.

Posted by
1536 posts

Two years ago we needed one way tickets from Florence or Venice back to Frankfurt, where we'd fly back to the US. One way fares were about $700 for the two of us. But someone on the helpline suggested the RT solution. So we booked Florence to Frankfurt RT for about $350. Flew the leg to Frankfurt only with no problems after "missing" our return flight.

Posted by
12326 posts

If you want to go to Budapest and you have a few extra days to do something else I have found that I can get a Houston-London RT ticket and a separate London-Budapest RT ticket and save some money. The layovers don't always work out so we spend a few days in London each way. I enjoy London so its always with the stay and the airline cost savings pays for at least one night hotel in London.

Posted by
4536 posts

It is called "throwaway ticketing" and many of the airlines state this is a violation of the contract of carriage (along with some other practices like "back-to-back" ticketing and "hidden city" ticketing) and reserve the right to penalize you. Some things they say could happen are forfeiture of frequent flyer miles, penalty fares, denial of boarding, etc. If you go to the airline's contract of carriage and lookup "throwaway", you will see some of the possible penalties the airline reserves the right to hit you with.

That being said, they don't seem to enforce the penalties too often. I've done this before (mostly on business travel) and have not yet been penalized.

Posted by
12326 posts

Despite all, my personal integrity would not let me do it. I purchase the one way ticket.

Posted by
17936 posts

"Why Does One-Way Cost More?"

It's one of the "many" benefits of the Free Market System. A more important question is, why do we permit it.

Posted by
12326 posts

You are right!!! We should rise up and demand our Basic Human Right to free housing (with a 60" TV) and cheap one-way fares!!! People of the forum UNITE!!!!!

Naaaaa. We allow it because they know there isn't much of an option.