I will write about a common tactic I use to help save money by purchasing two one-way tickets rather than one round trip ticket.
This can be a very useful strategy within North America, however, there have been rare instances where it applies for international travel as well.
I will use a simple hypothetical example for flights between Vancouver and Toronto during the Family Day long weekend. The restrictions were:
- Fly from Vancouver to Toronto on 9 February before 9am
- Fly from Toronto to Vancouver on 16 February after 6pm
Why book two one ways?
Saving money by purchasing two one-way tickets is often possible because airlines might be sold out on different flights. Air Canada might be charging a higher fare for Vancouver to Toronto, and WestJet might be charging a higher fare from Toronto to Vancouver. Hence, it will be cheaper to fly WestJet from Vancouver to Toronto and Air Canada on the return flight.
Booking on WestJet
Booking on Air Canada
If you were to search on Air Canada, the cheapest ticket option is $652 for your round trip flight purchase:
Save Money by Purchasing Two One-Way Tickets
When you combine the two one way tickets, the total cost is only $256 + $114 = $370.
Although only a $30 difference from booking on WestJet the entire journey, but this example is just one of many countless examples we go through on a daily basis.
Now, is $30 worth the savings of the implications of booking two one way tickets?
Implications of Two One Way Tickets
The biggest implication of purchasing two one-way tickets is that each purchase is independent. For example, most recently, WestJet announced the suspension of service from Montreal to Toronto. If you booked a round trip ticket with WestJet, the solution was rather simple, either request for a refund, or ask WestJet to re-ticket you on an alternative carrier.
But what if your ticket was purchased only one-way on WestJet and the other on Air Canada? Air Canada would not care that your WestJet ticket is cancelled.
In an example like Vancouver Toronto, it might not be a big impact. But imagine a situation where you have booked Air Canada to Las Vegas and Flair on the flight home. If Flair were to cancel my flight, and they refuse to re-book me on an alternate flight, my only option will be to pay an inflated price on Air Canada or, lose my money on Air Canada entirely.
Double Change Fees or Refund Fees
If you purchase a ticket with Change Fees, and you want to change your journey, you would be hit with two change or refund fees because those tickets are on separate carriers. If you would have booked the whole itinerary on a single ticket, then that would have only incurred a single change/cancel fee.
You can always save money by buying two one-way tickets rather than one round-trip ticket. Though that option is not without its risks. Only the buyer, can determine if the reward is worth the risk.