Is there any reason not to replace a round trip ticket with two cheaper one-way tickets?
June 6, 2009 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Is there any reason to buy round trip airfare when one-way is cheaper?

This might be a ridiculous question, but I've heard so much about why it's smart to buy round trip tickets that I'm a little paranoid. Is there a reason other than the usual price hike that makes buying two one-ways instead of a round trip ticket a bad idea? I'm going to fly domestically and buying two one-way ticket APPEARS to be cheaper at this point (just looking at search results on and similar sites, which purportedly include taxes). Is there a disadvantage to doing it this way?

I'm flying into SFO within the next couple of weeks, if it matters. A current round trip price is around $300, while a one-way ticket costs $120.
posted by ramenopres to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Nope. If it's cheaper, go for it.
posted by nitsuj at 7:05 PM on June 6, 2009

You might get pulled aside by security for a "random" screening if you have a one-way ticket. This has happened to me a few times in the past.
posted by mirepoix at 7:07 PM on June 6, 2009

Yeah, the only times I've ever been "randomly" searched were when I was either 1. Taking a one-way flight, or 2. Had a flight changed at the last moment because one was full or whatever.

Never had a problem other than that, but I'd just show up early. Have a good flight!
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:27 PM on June 6, 2009

I haven't been a secondary security search selectee due to a one-way ticket for many years. As a practical matter, it is a useless criterion to decide who gets a secondary search since everyone knows about it, so "the terrorists" can just buy round-trip tickets.

Buy the one-ways.
posted by grouse at 7:57 PM on June 6, 2009

Back in 2003, I flew one-way a lot for work (usually as a part of multi-city trips) and almost always got the extra search. It was annoying but nothing too awful. This hasn't happened since with one-way tickets, so I'd guess they've phased that out.
posted by lunasol at 8:51 PM on June 6, 2009

The secondary screening that was often imposed on people with one way tickets (and other people meeting "high risk" criteria) have been phased out (for at least a few years now) as far as I have seen so that is not a concern in my book. try booking it and if they throw any extra fees in before you let them charge you than go with something else.
posted by humanawho at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2009

nthing that additional screening has mostly been removed for one-way flights. My employer probably has a disproportionate number of one-way fliers due to the nature of our target audience, and we rarely to never hear anything about it, while it used to be an issue in the past. Individual airlines can mark anybody they want to be selectees, so there might be someone out there that does it as a matter of policy (we do it for cash and same-day transactions, like pretty much everyone else).
posted by Rendus at 7:10 AM on June 7, 2009

Please tell us which airline is offerng you this deal. Traditionally the opposite has been true (one-wayX2 more, usuaully much more expensive than RT) although it seems my budget carriers of choice (Virgin America and Southwest) now price all RT trips as one-wayX2.
posted by Rash at 1:57 PM on June 7, 2009

Response by poster: I got it through American Airlines, but I found these deals on (which then looks at other providers, so it's another step out from actual airlines). For that reason, I think there was more than one airline offering one-ways for less than or equal to the round trip fare.

I checked this out for a fare in Asia and the round trip was also, as you say, one-wayX2. That was on Jet Airlines. Maybe it's the big international flights that cost more -- I've noticed that a one-way flight from the US to another place in Asia cost almost 3/4 the price of the round-trip ticket / 2.
posted by ramenopres at 8:59 PM on June 10, 2009

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