Avoid the One-way Flight “Tax”

If you’ve ever tried to book a one-way international flight, you’re probably aware that these tickets can be very expensive. Airlines often penalise passengers flying one-way in the form of higher prices and in many cases, a one-way international flight is more expensive than a return ticket on the same route!

Cruise passengers often face this conundrum. When taking a one-way cruise, it is then necessary to purchase a plane ticket back to Australia.

I am contemplating going on a cruise departing from Sydney but finishing overseas (Hongkong/Tokyo/Los Angelos), hence I need a one way flight home to Australia.

Airlines advertising their sales always seem to quote “return fares”. Is it possible to buy the return flight but not use the outward leg, as the return fares when on “sale” are usually cheaper than a one way fare?

It is not advisable to purchase a return flight with the intention of only flying one-way, even if this works out cheaper. Airlines are likely to cancel the whole booking if a passenger does not show up for one or more flights.

One possible solution is to purchase a series of shorter one-way flights. One member flying one-way from the USA to Australia recently managed to fly for a reasonable price by booking separate tickets between Los Angeles and Hawaii, and then Hawaii and Australia.

Using low-cost airlines can work to your advantage. Low-cost carriers such as Jetstar, Scoot and Air Asia do not typically charge extra for flying only one-way.

Award travel is a good idea for one way tickets otherwise you need to choose a LCC type airline like JQ who don’t charge mega bucks to fly one way like legacy carriers do.

If you have some frequent flyer points at your disposal, then using these can be a great way to fly for almost no cost at all. Most programs do not impose a penalty for flying one-way when redeeming frequent flyer points.

Fortunately for one of our members facing this predicament, an available reward flight in Premium Economy offered a solution. By using points, our member will be able to return to Australia in comfort on a premium airline.

Managed to get a flight with points in Premium Economy- amazing they still had 2 available!

Share your experience HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]