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: 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.

Final Thought

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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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.

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.

Too Many August 20, 2023 - 10:08 pm

You neglect to mention a potential costly downside to booking one way awards. This one pointed out in a Reddit post/thread regarding this topic.
Cancellation fees will double. You may not have experienced this, but this is a real cost. A family of four can wind up paying $800 or more instead of $400 should their trip plan go sideways.

Stephanie Woods August 21, 2023 - 6:14 am

However, booking RT allows a stopover and may be cheaper. Some airlines won’t even book one way awards. It depends on your situation. Or you can just look it up yourself without spending the money for Point.me because maybe you don’t have access to all FF programs. I myself only have Chase and Amex points to play with.

askmrlee August 21, 2023 - 12:31 pm

Another reason – AA offers web saver awards but they cannot be changed, only cancelled and rebooked. If you’re doing a round trip award and need to make changes to just one segment, you risk not being able to rebook that other segment if there is no award availability at the time of the change.

ffi August 22, 2023 - 3:56 pm

DL prices round trips international cheaper than one ways
100k each way to EU in economy vs 110k in premium economy round trip – often seen to UK & EU
Taxes higher as 2 one ways as they charge 150 EU from EU to US that is not charged on round trips
Cancel fees double if whole trip canceled
But availability greater – 2 separate airlines or alliances


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