Hunting One-Way Bargains

By Elissa Leibowitz Poma
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Q. What travel sites offer one-way flights from Europe to the United States at good prices?

Patricia Wilhelm, Novato, Calif.

A. One-way fares are available for purchase through airlines, airfare-booking Web sites and consolidators, but unfortunately, they aren't always cheaper than a round-trip flight. In fact, they can cost more.

A one-way ticket from Madrid to Dulles International in mid-November, for example, came up on as $843; the round-trip fare was $169 less. "Sometimes the airline pricing algorithms just work out that way," says Sean Keener, president of the travel Web site

Searching booking sites such as and don't produce the best results. Instead, have a travel agent contact an airfare wholesaler such as McAbee Tours (800-622-2335, Note that this agency and others only work with travel agents, not directly with the public.

You can also book a ticket through a European discount airline that serves the United States, such as (011-44-131-466-7612, It offers flights to and from New York, Boston and Orlando. A one-way flight from Glasgow to Orlando starts at $296.

Some bargain hunters use a different -- and controversial -- tactic: They purchase round-trip tickets that are cheaper than one-way fares and ditch the return portion. "While this practice indeed is frowned upon by the airlines, we in the travel industry are forced to use it because of the outrageously high one-way Europe airline fare structures for travelers other than youth and students," says Ann Lombardi, a Europe travel specialist with the Atlanta agency The Trip Chicks (770-454-7205,

If you go this route, be sure that the flight you actually take is the outbound flight, not the return leg. US Airways, for example, will cancel your entire reservation if one portion of the ticket goes unused, spokeswoman Valerie Wunder says, noting that the airline "highly discourages" this practice.

Q. We're heading to Argentina and plan on spending a few days in Buenos Aires and a few days in another region. Should we choose Bariloche or Mendoza?

Kitty Whitehead, Washington

A. Both regions are excellent choices for a jaunt from Buenos Aires for a few days, thanks to vistas of snow-capped mountains, outdoor recreation and good eats.

"I think visitors from North America will find Mendoza's stunning Andes backdrop more spectacular and its city more attractive and less aggressively geared toward tourism," says Rosalba O'Brien, co-author of "The Rough Guide to Argentina"(Rough Guide Ltd., $25.99).

Mendoza is the heart of Argentina's wine country, with dozens of vineyards and bodegas surrounding the city. The city is also a base for mountain-climbing treks and has a fine art museum about 20 minutes from the city center.

While Bariloche has a college-town vibe, it's a popular vacation spot for South Americans and thus can be quite touristy, O'Brien says.

Accommodations in Mendoza are reasonable -- for example, the new NH Hotel ( is near the main square and has rooms for $91; youth hostels and small hotels run as low as $25 a night.

Mendoza is about 500 miles due west of Buenos Aires. Bariloche is more than 1,000 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, on the border with Chile. Flights are available to both.

More info: 212-603-0443,

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