Airlines Dictionary en Travel

Why Do 1 Way Tickets Cost More Than Return Tickets?

To many airline ticketing is a real mystery. Some times you get ridiculously low prices, other times you seem to be charged way too much. However there is logic behind the apparent madness. One of the strangest mechanisms in airline flight ticketing is why there is such a huge difference in price between one way and return flights. Let’s get into the nitty gritty and answer this question about airline tickets.

Why Do One Way Tickets Cost More Then Return Ones?

I’m sure that many of you have come across this situation many times and have wondered why it occurs. Well the main reason has to do with the fact that, with one way ticket the airline doesn’t know how long you will be staying at the destination (minimum stay requirements) so the highest possible fare will be applied to that ticket.

While booking a ticket I’m sure you’ve noticed that for the same travel class (Economy, Business and First Class) different prices are available. The higher the fare more flexibility you’ll be allowed and viceversa.

For instance cheaper fares will have to pay a pretty steep price to change the departure dates, also in many cases seat selection won’t be allowed before check-in opens.

Airlines have a similar mechanism when it comes to ticket pricing in relation to the time you will stay in you destination. It has to do with the minimum stay requirement rules that applies to each fare. If you don’t book a return flight you will fall in the fare category which would allow you to depart in the shortest time possible, even the same day of arrival.

View of Phoenix International Airport

The Logic of Minimum Stay Requirements

Let’s try and make this point even clearer. If you buy a cheap return ticket you’ll have more stringent “minimum stay requirements”. In order to get a particular price, you’ll have to stay a certain amount of time at your destination. As the price of the fare goes up the requirements you need to meet are less. Following this logic a one way ticket is a requirement free ticket. Which makes it the most expensive fare. This is the reason why often a one way ticket is more expensive than a return ticket.

View From Hong Kong International Airport Terminal. One of the busiest airports in the world from which travellers fly on airline tickets with different requirements.

The logic behind this is that airlines differentiate the way leisure and business travellers’ reservations are priced. Business travellers can and will spend more for their tickets in exchange for more flexibility. On the other hand leisure travellers will never book tickets at those same conditions and need a lower more enticing fare to book, and that’s exactly what airlines do.

So that’s why a one way ticket often costs more than a return ticket. I hope my explanation was clear enough, if it wasn’t and you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I’ll make sure you get a reply.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.

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