Home Airlines Why You Should Book One Way Award Tickets Instead Of Round Trip

Why You Should Book One Way Award Tickets Instead Of Round Trip

by joeheg

I was looking for flights to New York and JetBlue had the best times and prices from Orlando. Since the TrueBlue program sets the value of awards to the ticket price, we’d only pay less than 8K points per segment per person. I plugged our preferred flights into the JetBlue website and when I clicked to book, I received this pop-up.

JetBlue reminded me of something I already knew but had forgotten. It’s almost always better to book flights as one-way trips instead of booking a round-trip ticket. One reason is that you’re often able to find a better flight/price for each segment if you look at different airlines. JetBlue also reminded me that in this time of uncertainty with flying because of health reasons or the inconsistency of flight schedules, it’s easier to reschedule if each segment is booked separately.

This is of particular importance with JetBlue which lets passengers book flights with a combination of points + cash.

We suggest you book one-way flights only. 

At this time, changing or canceling just one segment of a multi-segment Cash + Points booking is not possible. We highly recommend you book each segment of a Cash + Points booking trip individually by using one-way flights in case you need to make a change or cancellation.

JetBlue’s systems cannot cancel a single segment of points + cash bookings. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. In fact, it’s almost always better to book award tickets as a series of one-way trips (except in this instance, when it’s more expensive.). For example, what if you’re waiting for your 1st flight of the trip and the airline announces that the flight is canceled and you can fly with them tomorrow evening? That might ruin your trip, but what if you can find a replacement on a different carrier? That’s exactly what happened to me on this trip. If I had booked a round trip, I would have been forced to rebook my return flight at the current price. That’s because airlines will cancel your entire itinerary if you miss a single segment.

Back when airlines charged exorbitant fees to redeposit miles, you had to decide, when booking, if you wanted the extra flexibility while risking losing all of your miles if you didn’t take a flight. Now that airlines have relaxed the refund and redeposit fees, it’s almost always better to book a trip as several one-way tickets instead of booking a round trip.

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2 comments

Chris May 18, 2022 - 5:01 pm

I’m looking at booking a long European honeymoon for late May through mid June 2023. From what I’ve read, booking award space early is probably best, given we know we want to go and don’t want to be caught out if we wait until days before departure. But given the 3 weeks between departure and return, we’d either need to wait until flights are available for the return trip and book everything together OR book departure and return separately.

Doing comparisons on miles vs dollar cost, it’s pretty clear that booking round-trip in dollars is much less expensive. For instance, a round trip, multi-city ticket from Denver to Geneva, then Paris back to Denver is ~$2700 for premium economy on United. A one-way from Denver to Geneva is about the same. Then Paris back to Denver is another $2000+. However, it seems like there isn’t a discount when booking with miles. Same flights looked to be ~120k miles for each direction. So if booking with miles, it does seem to make more sense to book as soon as flights are available, separating departure and return flights. This ensures the most award space available (with the exception of last minute award space, which for us isn’t worth the risk), and there’s no foregoing a round-trip discount.

Would you agree with that? Thanks so much for your insight.

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joeheg May 18, 2022 - 5:55 pm

The thing to watch besides the number of miles for ticket to/from Europe is the additional taxes. Some airlines waive the departure tax from round trip awards while others don’t. In addition, for such a big trip, it may pay to spend $5 and check different prices with a site like Point.me.

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