And I’m not the only one. Once, flying one-way was mostly associated with long-term backpackers who spend months or even years wandering the planet. But now, more and more travelers are realizing the value of casting off the shackles of a round-trip ticket and the change fees, set dates and other restrictions that come with it.
In 2011, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, one-third of all airline travelers didn’t fly a traditional round trip, a steady increase from 19 percent in 2002. Their non-round-trip tickets included one-way fares, such as mine to Bali, and multiple stops, for business travelers visiting several clients or for families visiting several sets of relatives. They also included round-trip tickets that were booked in one-way increments.
It seems that the days of flying directly from one place to another and back again on the same airline may be dwindling.
But don’t assume that the price of a one-way ticket would be half that of one with a return. It may seem logical, but that’s not always the case. Whether a flight is point to point or includes a layover, airline pricing seems to have its own logic.
Adam Bruk found that out firsthand when booking a flight from his home town of Greenwood, Ind., to Boston. “We were booking last minute and noticed that flights in and out of Logan [International Airport] were very expensive,” he says. Using an aggregator to figure out exactly how the costs broke down, Bruk noticed that the return trip was significantly less expensive than the flight to Boston. So he expanded his search to include different airports and airlines, and booked an outgoing flight on Delta Air Lines to a nearby airport and the return trip from Boston on American Airlines. “Ultimately, we saved a couple hundred dollars compared to booking a round-trip ticket in and out of Boston Logan on either American or Delta,” he says.
Aja Stallworth, a leisure travel consultant in San Diego, says that for long-haul or transatlantic flights, the large international carriers often have the best rates. But for smaller regional flights, she recommends that her clients fly on budget carriers. “Budget airlines provide a lot of value in regards to in-flight amenities,” she says. “They’re also less likely to have hidden fees, such as for checking your bag. I’d say they’re more of a value airline than a budget one.”