Why I Started Booking One Way trips

Wow its been a while since I posted. I’ve been back from trip to Europe and Asia for a couple of weeks now, and I’m just catching up on thing and also starting a new job. For my new position I’ll be traveling a lot more, which I love. I was booking flights and a coworker asked me why I was booking one way flights instead of round trips. I explained why and thought it would make a good blog post. Here’s why I started booking one way flights.

Cheaper Upgrades to First/Business Class

Airlines now are selling first and business class fares cheaper than ever especially on some city pairs. I recently booked a roundtrip ticket from Chicago to Richmond via Philadelphia. A week later I was looking up a fare for a friend and noticed that the Chicago to Philadelphia leg of my trip with the same fare code was only priced $16 cheaper than the first class fare.

I booked the trip through America Airlines and they do let you pay the difference in the fare. Since I was on a roundtrip ticket, I couldn’t just pay the extra $16 but the entire trip would have to be repriced which would cost me about $300 more. The larger impact at least for me is that I have Platinum status on American Airlines and have to use 500 mile upgrades in order to be put on the upgrade list. I get 4 upgrades for every 10,000 EQM (elite qualifying miles) that I earn or $40 per upgrade if I buy them. Chicago to Philadelphia is 679 airlines and requires 2 500 mile upgrades. To fly first class on this leg, it cost me an extra $80 instead of just $16. (Note: Since Richmond is less than 500 air miles from Philadelphia no upgrades would be required).

More Flexibility on Routing

When I book travel I usually don’t input basic city pairs and book the flight. Depending on if I’m traveling for work or leisure, the way I book flights differently. For instance if I’m flying for leisure I’ll try to book a route that will give me the cheapest First/Business/Premium Economy possible. This is how I ended up flying to Panama from Seattle via LAX via Miami instead of just going from Seattle to Miami to Panama. Routing the trip via LAX resulted not only a cheap business class fare but also lie flat seats from LAX to Miami. I had to book this trip as 2 one way legs because American’s website wouldn’t let me easily route via LAX on the round trip and because of how airlines sell tickets fares originating from out the country are sometime much cheaper.

When I book travel for work I usually route to gain the best chance at an upgrade. This is especially important for me since I’m only Platinum on American and my home airport is Chicago, which is an American hub.

More Flexibility on Airlines

One way flights also give me the flexibility on which airlines I fly to and from a destination. When you’re purchasing tickets for yourself it might be cheaper to buy a one way ticket to a destination on one airline and take another airline back to your origin. Google flights does a good job of showing you this by indicating separate ticket when you choose your flight pairs.

Purchasing one way tickets also gives me the option of flying direct to a destination due to time constraints when my preferred airline doesn’t have a direct flight. I’m more likely to choose the most direct route when I’m flying to a client and fly my preferred airline back home even though there might be multiple stops involved.