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: booking one-way flights is usually better than booking round-trip tickets. If you use an award search service like Point.me, you’re only able to search for one-way award flights. Here’s why they do it.
Psst! Even if you intend to travel roundtrip, it’s best to search for outbound and inbound flights separately.
Most airlines allow one-way reward tickets, which means you’ll get better results if you search for the two legs individually.
There are several advantages of booking one-way award tickets instead of booking a round trip.
When searching for award tickets, finding available and affordable flights can be challenging. Airlines have limited availability for the cheapest award flights, especially through partner programs. It’s often easier to search for single segments rather than booking the entire trip at once.
You may need to travel through multiple cities to find the desired award flights, possibly including a positioning flight. This is especially true for international itineraries rather than domestic trips.
Booking one-way flights provides added flexibility for travel. If you’re unaware, missing a single flight can cause an airline to cancel your entire itinerary. So, if you can’t make it to your destination and book a different airline for the following day, the original airline will cancel your return flight.
When you’re booking one-way award tickets, you can take solace in the fact that if you need to alter your outbound or inbound flights, it won’t have any effect on the rest of your itinerary. The majority of airlines allow you to cancel award tickets up until the time of departure without imposing any re-deposit fees. To ensure that you don’t incur any fees, be sure to verify the cancellation policy with the airline that you’re making the booking with.
When booking one-way award tickets, you’re able to mix and match the best prices. For example, say that we wanted to fly from Orlando to Charlotte and our best option was American Airlines. There might be availability to book with Avios through British Airways for the flight there but not the flight home. If I search for a round trip, the search engine will show no available flights. But by searching one-way flights, I’ll see the award availability on the outbound leg.
I could then search to see if a slightly more expensive award ticket for the flight home is available using American AAdvantage miles. Or I could pay for a revenue ticket if I didn’t have enough miles.
In certain cases, opting for a round-trip flight can prove to be more cost-effective than two separate one-way award tickets. It’s common for airlines to offer sales and promotions that require round-trip flights. One thing to keep in mind is that flights to Europe may have lower taxes for round-trip tickets, so it’s always a good idea to explore all options before making a final decision.
So while it’s usually a good idea to book award flights as two one-way tickets, it pays to spend a few minutes to confirm that it’s a better deal than booking a round trip.
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