How to Get the Cheapest One-Way Flight: 4 Quick Tips Anyone Can Do

Every traveler has thought of booking a flight to their dream destination on a one-way ticket with no return date in sight. 

What? We can’t be the only ones.

Okay, so aside from dreams of tossing everything else aside to continue on a never-ending path of one-way flights around the globe, there are a lot of good reasons to book your trip going one way, from cheaper fares to keeping your travel plans flexible. 

So, how do you get the best deals for traveling one way?

Here are our recommendations for grabbing those super cheap one-way flights.

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Are One-Way Flights Cheaper?

First things first, are one-way flights the cheapest option? Booking flights one way instead of round trip can definitely score you a better deal. But it’s important to keep in mind that while one-way tickets can be cheaper, these are generally exceptions, not the rule.

Whether your plane tickets will be cheaper or more expensive booked one way will depend on a variety of factors:

  • Are you flying domestically or internationally?
  • Is there a competitive market for where you’re flying?
  • Are your travel plans flexible?

General advice differs for domestic flights and ones that require you to dust off your passport. Typically, you’re better off booking round-trip airline tickets for international flights. Meanwhile, booking one-way flight tickets for domestic travel will get you the same or better value. 

Be aware: this isn’t always the case.

It’s best to get a broad view of the travel landscape when planning your trip. Always consider seasonality, major events, and flexibility. Suppose you plan a trip around the holidays. In that case, it’s probably best to book your airline tickets round trip instead of one way and lock in your flights before the prices rise even higher. 

However, the landscape changes if you’re traveling outside of peak season and multiple airlines support your destination. In this case, you’re much more likely to find one-way flight deals available.

Because the market in some areas is more competitive, you’ll find even the major airlines lowering their prices so they can compete in these more crowded spaces. 

However, this works in reverse as well.

Fewer options mean less competition, and the airlines won’t need to drop their prices to compete.

So, what does this mean in real terms? If you’re looking to score super cheap one-way flights to someplace remote like Tonga, you may have to rethink your travel plans—or your budget.

Heard of “Throwaway Ticketing?”

Shopping around for tickets, you may have noticed something strange. Occasionally, you can actually book a round-trip ticket for cheaper than you can get a one-way ticket

We know—where’s the sense in that? 

But this might have led you to an interesting question. “Why don’t I just book the round trip fare and only use part of it?” 

Airlines refer to this as “Throwaway Ticketing,” a term used to describe purchasing a ticket with the intent of discarding a portion of the travel that ticket covers. 

For example, let’s say you desperately need to get from Chicago to New York. You don’t yet have a return date set, but as you search for flights, you notice that round-trip tickets are much cheaper than one way. Without any solid plans to fly back, you go ahead and book that cheaper round-trip flight. However, instead of flying the whole route, you only utilize the Chicago to New York leg of the trip. In this hypothetical tale, you’re essentially “throwing away” the return leg of the journey from New York back to Chicago.

Note: Missing a portion of a round-trip flight will lead airlines to cancel the entire reservation. Because of this, you can only “throwaway” the latter half of a trip.

This practice is technically legal and used by plenty of savvy travelers to save on their travel costs. That said, it’s heavily frowned upon by airlines and can lead to some severe penalties:

  • Being put on an airline’s watch list
  • Having your rewards/miles canceled 
  • Having your frequent flyer account shut down
  • Being banned from using that airline in the future
  • Being sued by the airline or sent to collections

It’s possible to use throwaway ticketing to save some extra money, but make sure you’re aware of the risks and benefits. 

If you’re a frequent traveler or have built-up airline loyalty rewards, the risks will likely outweigh any benefits. 

Why Airlines Incentivize Round-Trip Tickets

First off, if you want to find a great deal on flights, whether traveling one way or round trip, be sure to check out our Secret to Cheap Flight Fares so that you can put some extra savings away on your next trip!

Now, let’s get into why airlines would prefer you book a flight round trip over one way.

Well, just like a lot of travelers who end up booking their plans round trip, airlines prefer to plan ahead. 

Having travelers book round trip air travel makes it easier for airlines to schedule their flights, itineraries, staff schedules, etc. So, to dissuade travelers from booking one way, airlines will often increase the one-way ticket to make it cost more than half of the price of a round trip ticket.

Airlines also know that most people who book one-way tickets are businessmen and women. In other words, people who are able and willing to spend more on their airline tickets to accommodate strict schedules.

How Can I Get Cheap One-Way Flights? Use These Tips:

When it comes to scoring super cheap one-way flights, the airlines themselves play a big factor. The key for you is to be flexible

Consider these three important W’s:

  1. Where you’re flying from
  2. Where you’re flying to
  3. When you’re flying

The more flexible you can be, the better your odds become for finding great one-way flight deals to use on your next trip!

1. Compare Departure Airport Prices

If you live near multiple airports, you’re in a prime position to find cheap one-way flights and save money. How? By comparing the cost of your flight from all of your surrounding airports

If driving an hour will save you 30 or 50 percent on your flight, then it might be worth it to make the short drive and pocket that extra cash

You can typically find cheap options for parking your vehicle while you’re away. Check out parking apps or do a quick Google search for cheap parking in the area.

2. Compare Arrival Airport Prices

Because major cities often see so much more air traffic, you’ll often find many popular destinations with multiple arrival airports you can fly into. 

Think LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy for domestic flights to New York.

Or Heathrow and Gatwick if you’re flying into London. 

A quick way to compare flight prices is to use a simple search engine like Google Flights. That way, you can easily:

  1. Adjust your arrival airport
  2. See which airport is cheapest on what day 
  3. Make sure you nab the cheapest one-way flight possible

Just be sure to pay attention to the city or airport code when you book your airline tickets. The last thing you want to do is find you’re flying into Midway when you meant to fly into O’Hare.

3. Search Flights on Low Fare Calendars for the Cheapest Dates to Fly Out

Low Fare Calendars like the Southwest Low Fare Calendar and others help you get a bird’s eye view of the travel landscape. You can quickly find the cheapest dates to fly out during any one-month period. Once you start surveying prices, you’ll find that the cheapest days to fly domestically are most often Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 

Friday through Monday usually see higher fares due to business travelers and weekend getaway-ers. So, if you’re flexible enough to schedule your flight for mid-week, take advantage of the lower prices here to score big on one-way flight deals.

Prices can fluctuate, though, so double-check the cheapest dates to fly out by using a search engine or airline website and check out their low fare calendars for one-way flights.

This way, you can see at a glance which day will be the cheapest for you to fly out.

4. Book Any Connecting Flights Yourself

Booking your connecting flights yourself can get you a better deal on cheap one-way flights. Instead of being locked in, you can remain flexible in choosing the cheapest one-way flights for each leg of your journey. 

Pro-tip 1: Leave enough time for transfers.

You’ll need time to collect your luggage and recheck it if you’ve booked your flights separately. If you’re smart with packing, you can likely get away with only taking a carry-on with you. However, if your trip requires more luggage, that means giving yourself a window of a few hours at least, 2-3 for the same airline and 3-4 for a different airline. Because if you miss your flight, there’s little chance of the airline compensating you or helping you with re-booking.

Pro-tip 2: Make sure you get travel insurance.

You’ll want to make sure you’re covered if you do end up missing a connection. Some travel credit cards offer great benefits, including travel insurance. Just remember you have to purchase your travel with that card to reap the rewards. So, if you have a travel card, go ahead and double-check your benefits and see if it covers missed flights.

You can also book your travel insurance through a third party, but always remember to do your research beforehand.

Where to Fly into for One-Way Cheap Flights:

Cheap one-way flights to Vegas: Las Vegas is a hot spot for visitors because it offers an endless array of activities, from the Las Vegas Strip to the Grand Canyon. If you want one-way flight deals to Vegas, set alerts for price drops through Google Flights or another search engine. Not picky about how you get there? Check out airfare deals on budget airlines like Southwest Airlines or Spirit Airlines to make sure you’re getting the lowest fares possible.

  • Cheap one-way flights to Atlanta: Visitors traveling to Atlanta will fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which ranks as the busiest airport in the US (and was the busiest airport in the world until 2020.) As a hub for Delta Airlines, it’s not a bad idea to check for any deals they have on offer. But, if you’re planning on flying here, make sure you avoid the busiest times of the year, and if you do fly during holidays and peak seasons, look for ways to save. Scope out your tickets early to find the best one-way deals and consider booking flights with arrivals in the early morning or late evening.
  • Cheap one-way flights to Dallas: Dallas offers two main airports: Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Dallas Love Field (DAL). If you’re looking for the cheapest flights into Dallas, be sure to compare prices between these two airports. Because Dallas is a central hub for American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines will often try to undercut American’s pricing on flights into the city, so be on the lookout for price drops and deals from all three.
  • Cheap one-way flights to Boston: Boston may only have one airport, but it’s a fairly easy place to get to if you’re coming from out of the city. So while you’re looking for tickets, keep in mind you may have better luck scoring a cheap one-way flight to Manchester, NH or Portland, ME instead. Then you just have to catch the Amtrak into Boston!
  • Cheap one-way flights to Chicago: Chicago is home to one of the busiest airports in the US with O’Hare, but Midway airport is also a good option for those looking to fly here. With several carriers to choose from, comparing multiple airlines like Southwest and Delta is guaranteed to help you save money.

Research the Flights Yourself, Or Let Next Vacay Do It for You

Remember, finding the best in super cheap one-way flights requires patience and flexibility, and there are a lot of great ways to score big, from watching price changes to scheduling your connecting flights yourself.

But maybe your schedule is already packed and you don’t have the time or energy to research multiple airlines, figure out the best price drops, or the best combination of legs for your travel. It can be a lot to do all of this yourself. 

The good news is, you don’t have to!

Next Vacay has an entire team behind it to take all of the research and guesswork out of finding the best deals.

Our deal hunters love finding cheap flights. They take the time to go through each deal to ensure that it’s not just saving you money but getting you to your destination on the shortest route with the fewest stops possible.

We also look for flexible deal time frames and change policies. So, if you think round trip won’t work for you, think again. With travel dates and itineraries you can adjust yourself, Next Vacay is making it easier to travel to all of the destinations you want, with prices you won’t believe are round trip.

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