I'm actually finding it makes very little difference in cost whether you book your airline ticket one-way or round-trip these days. I've found that on Delta and Southwest, personally. With the high cost of fees to change tickets, I find it's better to just book one-way if I'm not sure about my return trip dates.
I'm flying with a one-way ticket tomorrow on Delta, since I'm not sure how long I will need to stay at my destination. My plans are to book my return ticket a week before I plan to return home. My back-up plan for my return trip in case airfares increase, it to use ff miles or take a flight on a discounted airline. Worse comes to worse, I'll take my chances with Priceline.
I take a lot of one way flights because I am usually flying into work at a client on a Monday and then fly somewhere else for the weekend when I leave work on Thursday.
From what I see the price isn't really dependent on one way or round trip anymore. It is number of available seats and the two airports you are using. For example, if I am flying from a major airport, 95% of the time my flight is cheaper if I book with the airline that uses that airport as a hub. I fly Miami to LAX on American because they are hubs. Then I fly back to Orlando, New York, ect and use a different airline. Even when you book online you see they price out each way separately like it's two, one-way flights.
My experience is the same as yours. For several years, I've purchased almost only one-way tickets for domestic travel. I fly to City A on a Monday, on to City B that night, maybe drive to City C the next night, flying to City D for the day after. Things change, and it's easier to rebook one-way tickets than risking having to rebook the entire week because it was done on a single ticket. (Have had that happen.) International travel is cheaper r/t, but for domestic, most r/ts nowadays are just two o/w fares cobbled together. And I have only been "randomly selected" for additional security the one time I purchased a walk-up fare at the counter. Other than that, I get pre-check.
In addition to the Google tool, Cheap Flights - Compare Airline Tickets with Skyscanner.com is a good resource.
twunderli - I seldom purchase one-way airline tickets to my primary destinations, or long-distance flights, i.e., from Atlanta to a European city,or return. Typically, one-way flights are more expensive. Also, they could possibly set you up for more airport security at time of check in.
However, if I'm flying from Manchester, or Standsted, England; or Dublin, Ireland, to western Europe, I usually book my flight in advance with Ryan Air or Brussels Air into Einhoven, Holland; or Charleroi, Belgium, for instance, to take advantage of lower-costs flights. *It's less expensive to book these ahead of time on the internet, and you definitely do not want to change this reservation, or you'll incur a huge penalty!
Thanks for posing this question, twunderli! I have actually been looking into this myself, as I hope to do some international travel in the next year or so. You all provided some excellent insight and recommendations, and I look forward to seeing what others have to share.
My advice is to check the Google Flight Tool:
There are lots of search criterias available here including a one way flight search and up to 5 mutiple airports (departing and arriving).
I agree with mgoes2, Southwest is excellent for patching together segments of a trip. We often tell friends and family to fly into Reagan National (DCA) and we socialize in DC and then they fly out of Dulles (IAD) closer to our home, for the same fares as roundtrips. So if you are going where SW flys, check them out.
I'm about to depart on a trip that consists of two one-way tickets on different airlines. The end result is a round trip, but because of schedules and prices, I found the best option was to book one-way flights. In most cases the one-way costs were half the round-trip fare (which never used to be the case). The added cost came from choosing flights a times that worked better for me (the lowest priced round trip forced me to pick flights at times I hated). Picking two one-way fares gave me better times at same price as the lowest round trip fare.
I'd guess that the choice of carrier will have a lot to do with both the point of origin and the destination. In my case, I'm flying to DFW, so American was the logical choice. Because of the hub there, American was actually much more expensive. While I won't have direct flights, I got a better deal (and better times) by flying United and Delta.
vaboywnder is right about the Google Flight Tool. I spent a fair bit of time over a few weeks comparing prices. That's how I decided on the one-way flights.
Message was edited by: bejacob
While we do not often book one-way tickets we do tend to fly into say EWR and out of LGA or vice-verse when going to NYC however; most recently it has been cheaper to fly into and out of LGA. I do look at one way tickets prices yet most do seem as bejacob mentions to be equally priced unlike in the past where you'd pay handsomely for a one-way fare and yes ERC even on UA.
I hear you IAH and agree with you. The cynic in me says the airlines currently price one ways half of full fares because they're tickled pink to secure that revenue on filled to the gill flights. My IAD-BUF used to be $160-180 R/T, now it can cost $300, so a $150 one way is fine by United.
Hey, whattaya gonna do? I'll drink one more in room coffees (yummy) and one less Starbucks and call it even (it's not, but it makes me feel better).
twunderli - Don't want to be too redundant on this subject, but one other thing I do when booking airline tickets is to check on flights from different airports, such as Nashville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga (where I live). Since there are discount airlines flying from Nashville (Southwest) and Atlanta (AirTrans, Jet Blue, etc.), it's often less expensive to drive there (100 miles) than to depart from Chattanooga. Or, on international flights,it might be less expensive to fly to Charlotte, Cincinnati,or Detroit and leave for Europe than from other airports, and multi-city flights are often less expensive than direct flights, if you can afford the extra in-transit time required for this.
An excellent point Fred.
As crazy as it seems, about this time last year a friend was going to fly from IAH-PHX and the fare was stupid. Somehow he checked flying from College Station to IAH then PHX and the fare was almost 1/2 if he flew the IAH-PHX non-stop. So being a good Marine he made the correct choice and made the hour drive to College Station. Pays to look around.