Which Is Cheaper – Return Flights Vs One Way Flights?

Is It Better to Buy One Way Or Round Trip Flight

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 by Renu Dahiya

When it comes to planning travel arrangements, the question of ‘Is it cheaper to book return flights or one way tickets? is a common concern that frequently arises. In numerous instances, opting for one-way flights can provide travellers with enhanced flexibility and customization options. However, it is essential to acknowledge that this might not always be the most advantageous approach. Several factors come into play when making this decision, including the overall cost, routing regulations, potential cancellation fees, and the utilisation of miles/points, which warrant careful consideration.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the advantages and drawbacks associated with booking one-way and round-trip flights, let’s delve into an analysis of both options.

What Are One Way Flights?

One way flights offer travelers the convenience of reaching their intended destination without the need for a return journey. In essence, these flights take you from your departure point to your desired location without a mandatory round-trip obligation. This means you can book a direct flight or opt for a flight with layovers in other cities or countries. For instance, booking only one way tickets from Melbourne to Delhi (not return flights to Melbourne) – directly or with layovers.

Advantages:

  • Whether you find unexpected opportunities to extend your stay or simply wish to explore different places at your own pace, the flexibility of a one-way ticket becomes a valuable asset.
  • By decoupling your departure and return flights, you gain the opportunity to hunt for the best deals and discounts on your return journey which can potentially lead to substantial savings.

What Does Round Trip Mean? | Round trip meaning

Roundtrip or return flights are those flights that give passengers the convenience of travelling from one location to another and then returning to their original starting point, typically following the same route. For instance, if you were to book a round-trip flight from Sydney to Delhi and back (flights to Sydney return), you would be able to complete your round trip journey (return to Sydney) using the same airline or itinerary.

Round-trip Melbourne to Mumbai flight route on Google Flights. (The prices are subject to change.)

Advantages:

  • With both the outbound and return flights planned and booked together, travellers can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their entire travel arrangement is taken care of well in advance. 
  • With the overall cost of the journey already accounted for, there is greater clarity on the total expenditure, allowing for better financial preparation throughout the trip. 

Why Are Round Trip Flights Cheaper Than One Way Flights? | Return Ticket Vs One Way

Round-trip flights often boast more budget-friendly prices and several underlying factors contribute to this cost disparity when compared to one way tickets. These economic considerations shed light on the reasoning behind the pricing strategies employed by airlines.

Economies Of Scale

The fundamental reason for round-trip flights being cheaper lies in the principle of economies of scale. When a traveller books a round-trip ticket, they essentially purchase two flights at once. This consolidated purchase allows airlines to offer discounted fares as an incentive, encouraging customers to commit to both outbound and return journeys. In contrast, with one-way tickets, airlines can only sell a single flight, limiting their ability to provide the same level of discount.

Demand And Pricing

The demand for one-way flights often drives up their price. Many travellers opt for one-way tickets when their return plans are uncertain or when they plan multi-destination trips. This heightened demand for individual flights puts upward pressure on the prices. In contrast, a round-trip ticket, being more commonly chosen for a fixed flight itinerary, benefits from comparatively lower demand, leading to more favourable pricing.

Risk And Revenue Assurance

One way flights carry increased risk for airlines. If a traveller cancels or misses their one-way flight, the airline loses potential revenue from a return journey. To mitigate this risk, airlines price one-way tickets higher to ensure they can recover some revenue even if one segment of the journey is not utilized. On the other hand, round-trip tickets secure a certain level of revenue regardless of whether the traveller completes both legs of the journey.

Last-Minute Discounts

Airlines may offer last-minute discounts on one-way tickets to fill empty seats. If too many one-way tickets remain unsold close to the departure date, airlines may decide to reduce prices to maximize their capacity utilization. Conversely, round-trip tickets are less likely to face such price fluctuations as the demand for return journeys is already built into the booking.

For example – Here’s an example of the Melbourne to Mumbai flight route on Google Flights, showing return flights are cheaper than booking two one-way tickets. 

One-way Melbourne to Mumbai flight route on Google Flights. (The prices are subject to change.)

Additional Work And Resources

From an operational standpoint, one-way tickets may necessitate more effort and resources from airlines. Unlike round-trip tickets that can book the traveller on the same flight for both directions, one-way flights require the airline to search for an alternative flight for the return journey. This extra work involved in handling individual flight bookings contributes to the higher pricing of one-way tickets.

Is It Always More Expensive To Book A One Way Ticket?

Booking a one way flight is not always more expensive, as the pricing can fluctuate based on several factors. Airlines frequently offer discounted rates for round-trip tickets, making it costlier to book two separate one-way flights. However, there are times when opting for one-way travel proves more economical, particularly for international journeys or during peak travel seasons.

Additionally, some carriers may have exclusive one-way flight deals or promotions, presenting travellers with opportunities to secure cost-effective single tickets for their desired destinations.

Tip – Here’s a tip to help you decide between a round trip and a one-way air ticket, If you have a fixed return date and want to save time and hassle, a round trip ticket is often more convenient. 

Essential Steps To Take When Buying One-Way Airline Tickets

  • Evaluate Return Flight Options– While booking your one-way flight, it’s prudent to assess the cost and timing of potential cheap return flights, especially if your travel plans require a flexible itinerary. Some destinations may have limited flight availability or higher costs for one-way returns. 
  • Prioritize Flexibility – Opt for airlines that offer flexible ticket options or allow changes, should your plans evolve unexpectedly. Some carriers permit ticket modifications for a fee, providing a safety net in case you need to adjust your travel dates or destinations at short notice.
  • Consider Travel Insurance – To safeguard against unforeseen changes or cancellations, consider purchasing travel insurance. This additional layer of protection can cover flight cancellations, medical emergencies, lost baggage, and other unforeseen events. 
  • Compare Prices And Terms – Before making your final decision, compare prices and terms from different airlines offering cheap one way flights. Airlines often have varying policies, fees, and inclusions with their ticket options. 
Suggested Read: How To Book Cheap Flights To India?

Conclusion

One-way flights are frequently priced higher than round-trip flights, influenced by a myriad of factors. Airlines employ strategic pricing approaches to incentivize customers to book both the outbound and return journeys with them, resulting in discounted round-trip fares. Moreover, the demand for one-way travel on specific routes can also impact the pricing, driving up the cost of individual flights.

It is important to recognize that the decision to book a one-way or round-trip flight hinges on your unique travel requirements and preferences. For travellers with fixed itineraries and definite return plans, round-trip tickets often prove more economical and convenient. On the other hand, those seeking flexibility and open-ended journeys may find one-way flights better suited to their needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is it cheaper to book return flights than one-way?

Ans: Airlines offer discounts on round-trip tickets to attract price-sensitive leisure travellers who book both outbound and return journeys. This strategy optimizes seat occupancy and revenue.

Q: Do you pay twice for a round trip flight?

Ans: No, you do not pay twice for a round trip. A round-trip ticket covers both the outbound and return flights, requiring only a single payment for the entire journey. 

Q: Why are one way flights more expensive?

Ans: Airlines charge higher prices for one-way tickets to incentivize customers to book round-trip tickets, maximizing their profits. Additionally, travellers with urgent needs may be willing to pay a premium for the convenience of one-way travel.

Q: What happens if you book a return ticket and only use one way?

Ans: If you only use one way of a round trip flight, most airlines will cancel the remaining portion of your itinerary. Round-trip tickets are sold at a discounted rate under the assumption that both legs of the journey will be used. By not using the return flight, you violate the ticket’s terms and conditions, allowing the airline to cancel the unused portion. While some airlines may offer partial refunds for the unused segment, it is not guaranteed. 

Q: Are there any additional fees for cancelling a round-trip flight?

Ans: No, you will not be subjected to paying an extra or double cancellation charge in the event of cancelling a round-trip flight. The cancellation fee for a circular journey remains the same as it would be for a one-way trip. 

Q: What is an open flight ticket?

Ans: An open flight ticket is a type of airline ticket that allows travellers the flexibility to choose their departure and return dates within a designated time frame. Unlike regular tickets, open tickets do not have fixed dates, flights, or destinations specified. Due to their flexibility, open tickets tend to be priced higher than regular tickets.

Still uncertain about whether to choose a one way ticket or round trip flight? Fret not! Our team of seasoned travel experts at MyTicketsToIndia is here to guide you in finding the perfect and most affordable flight option that aligns with your unique needs.

With a remarkable 13 years of experience in the industry, we stand out as one of the leading flight-booking platforms specializing in affordable flights from Australia to India (and back), catering to your every travel desire. Our commitment to excellence extends beyond just offering cheap flights; we are devoted to ensuring your utmost satisfaction throughout your journey. 

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Our round-the-clock, dedicated customer support team is at your service, always ready to provide detailed answers to all your travel queries. So, contact us today and let us be your ultimate travel partner!

Renu Dahiya    

About Renu Dahiya View All Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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