What is a round-trip flight?

When booking a flight, one of the first decisions we have to make is whether to book a round-trip or a one-way flight. At first glance, it may seem like a simple choice: book a one-way flight if you’re only flying in one direction, and book a round-trip flight if you’ll be returning home. However, there are several factors to consider before making a decision.

A round-trip flight is an itinerary that includes an outbound flight to a destination and a return flight back to the original departure city. This is the most common type of flight booking and is typically used for vacations or visits to family and friends. For example, if someone is flying from Charlotte to Arizona for a spring break trip, they would book an outbound flight to Phoenix and a return flight to Charlotte.

On the other hand, a one-way flight is a single trip from one airport to another, with no return flight scheduled. This type of booking is suitable for situations where the traveler has uncertain plans or is visiting multiple cities. In some cases, booking two one-way flights may be more cost-effective than a round-trip flight, especially if the traveler can find cheaper fares on different airlines for each leg of the trip.

When booking two one-way flights, it’s important to note that the traveler will have two separate reservations, with different confirmation numbers for each flight. While this may not affect the travel experience itself, it can be inconvenient if there are any flight delays or cancellations, as the second airline is not obligated to rebook the traveler.

In the United States, splitting a round trip into two one-way flights on the same airline and travel dates usually does not result in any price difference. However, on some routes, airlines may charge a premium for one-way bookings compared to round-trip fares, especially for international travel. It’s also worth noting that budget carriers often offer one-way fares at the same price as round-trip tickets, making separate one-way flights more expensive.

However, there are cases where booking two one-way flights on different airlines can save money. By using tools like Google Flights, travelers can compare prices and find the best deals for each leg of the trip. For example, someone traveling from Washington, D.C. to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport may find it cheaper to book an outbound flight on one airline and a return flight on a different airline.

Another option to consider is booking an open-jaw or multicity itinerary, where the traveler flies into one city and returns home from another. Many airlines offer this booking option, allowing travelers to explore multiple destinations without having to backtrack. For example, someone flying from Newark to Orlando could book a return flight from Fort Lauderdale to Newark, allowing them to visit both destinations without having to return to the original departure city.

When booking award or mileage tickets, it’s important to consider the route and availability. In some cases, booking two one-way flights may offer better award availability, while in others, the taxes for two one-way tickets may be higher than a round-trip itinerary. It’s recommended to check both options on the airline’s website to ensure the best possible award availability.

In conclusion, the decision to book a round-trip or a one-way flight depends on several factors, including personal preferences, cost, flexibility, and itinerary. While a round-trip flight is the most common choice for vacations and visits, there are cases where booking two one-way flights or a multicity itinerary may be more suitable. It’s important to consider all options and compare prices before making a decision.

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