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Advantages for booking a round trip flight as two flights instead a round trip

T_R_Oglodyte

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I do almost all of my travel on Alaska Air. One thing with Alaska is that there is almost never any discount for booking round trip. When you're booking round trip, you see select each leg individually, and the ticket cost is the sum of the two options you select. The prices shown for each leg are the same as what is offered if do the same leg as a one-way flight.

In that circumstance, there is little advantage that I can see for booking round trip except when using the companion fare certificates. (To get the most value out of a companion fare, you want to the higher ticket cost that comes with the round trip.) What are the advantages of booking round trip?
  • It's easier to take advantage of decreases in fares. To illustrate, lets say that when you book, the fare for each leg is $300, so $600 total. Now, after you book the fare. the fare for one of the legs goes up to $500, so now the price for your itinerary would be $800. Since you booked at $600, so you're still in good shape.
But then the price for the other leg drops to $200. So now the round trip price is $700, still more than the $600 you pad for the RT. If you book as separate legs, though, you could then take advantage of that price reduction on the other leg, while still keeping your lower initial price on the other leg.​
  • The same thing happens if you redeem miles. If the miles needed for an award drops on one leg, you can take advantage right away, even though the miles required for a round trip may have increased substantially.
  • If you burn miles using miles + money, on Alaska you are limited to 20,000 miles (good for$200) per ticket. By booking legs separately you can redeem 40,000 miles (20,000 miles for each ticket).
The only downside I see is involves ticket change fees. If you need pay change or cancellation fees, Those accrue per ticket. So if both legs of a trips change (or the entire trip is cancelled) you will pay a more fees. So balance that against the greater potential taking advantage of fare reductions.

And if you can reach an elite status where change and cancellation fees are waived, then there really isn't any advantage to booking RT (except with Companion Fare certificates). I hit MVP Gold on Alaska every year, so I don't pay cancellation fees. The combination of waived cancellation fees is typically worth at least $500 to me every year - sometimes more. Last year there was one flight where I rebooked each leg of the flight twice. So that's four cancellation fees waived, and I ended up saving around $200 air fare on the trip. Most of these 3 of the retickets were less than $75, so it would have made sense to rebook if I didn't have waived fees.
 

Luanne

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With Southwest Airlines even if you book a round trip you can make changes, and take advantage of price drops, for just one leg of the trip.
 

goaliedave

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I do the same with the other airlines. I booked Ottawa to Kauai for $488, then Kauai to Ottawa for $351 by a totally different route. The one way booking puzzle pieces are my favourite part of the travel game.

Sent from my SM-A505G using Tapatalk
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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With Southwest Airlines even if you book a round trip you can make changes, and take advantage of price drops, for just one leg of the trip.
Does that mean that you need to keep a record of what the price was for each leg of the ticket when you booked? Or does your SWA confirmation break out the cost for each leg?
 

bogey21

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Back in my working days when I traveled extensively I always booked my outbound and return trips separately. It made changing things simpler and had little downside...

George
 

buzglyd

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I mostly fly Alaska and typically do the same thing. I don’t change my flights much because out of San Diego, there is usually only one non stop per day (except to Seattle, Portland).
 

CPNY

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I always look to book one way segments for the reason of making changes to one with Less risk.
 

Jan M.

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I thought charging more for one way flights was a thing of the past but I rarely use the major airlines. In the past 8 years I've used American, Jet Blue and Southwest a few times; Delta and Alaska once. I use Spirit and Frontier a lot. I use Allegiant but used to use them more before they dropped the flight between Fort Lauderdale and Cleveland, Ohio last year. Allegiant gives $10 discount if you book a round trip flight. Other than Allegiant none of the other airlines we use charges more for one way flights.
 

moonstone

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We always book our winter in Belize flights separately. When we are booking our southbound flights the northbound booking window isn't open. If we wait until the northbound flight booking window is open then we've missed the really cheap flights to go south. We usually get our flights for nearly half of what our friends pay who wait until 2-3 mos before going south to book pay for theirs. We have flown on different airlines and different routes for each trip a couple of times but never had a problem.


~Diane
 

Luanne

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Does that mean that you need to keep a record of what the price was for each leg of the ticket when you booked? Or does your SWA confirmation break out the cost for each leg?
You go into your existing reservation. I click to change the entire itinerary. It will show you the change for each leg. If the price, or points, have gone down I make the change. You can also just change one leg.
 

CalGalTraveler

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I always book SWA legs separately so I can know if there was a price decline and to combine points with cash.

Delta seems to be higher on one-ways than round trips whenever I search. I always check both for the major U.S. carriers.
 
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PigsDad

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We fly 90+% on Southwest and we almost always book each leg separately. I find it easier to manage the trips, and as others have pointed out above, we can effectively create a points + cash trip. Also, with how Southwest releases their schedule periodically, sometimes the outgoing leg is released for booking, and the return leg may not be released for 6-8 week, so if it is a popular time, the direct outgoing flights may book up before the return flight can be booked (and you can miss out on the lower fares as well.

An example of ease of managing flights -- in an upcoming trip, we were planning a round trip from Denver to Tuscon. Well, our plans changed and now we are flying to Tuscon, but returning back from Phoenix. It was simple to change just the one return reservation online -- not sure if I would have had to call to change just one leg.

We have the SW companion pass, but unlike Alaska, it is not just a one-time pass -- it is for all flights, so booking legs separately doesn't affect anything.

Kurt
 

Firepath

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Alaska has the benefit of stopping somewhere along the way for a day or two without an increase in price. We were able to layover for several days in San Diego before heading to Hawaii for the same as just a couple hours layover.
 

Synergy

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I will have to give that a go, Luanne - I know that for a long time, to change just one leg on Southwest, you had to call in and get them to split the PNR to be able to change them independently. As such, I've been booking my legs separately for years. Sometimes, especially when I book for others, having a single PNR would be much more convenient, if you can now change the different legs easily online.
 

Luanne

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I will have to give that a go, Luanne - I know that for a long time, to change just one leg on Southwest, you had to call in and get them to split the PNR to be able to change them independently. As such, I've been booking my legs separately for years. Sometimes, especially when I book for others, having a single PNR would be much more convenient, if you can now change the different legs easily online.
It's only been fairly recently that they made this nice upgrade where you can see the difference in price. They also now make it easy to find any credits you have available.
 

Synergy

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It's only been fairly recently that they made this nice upgrade where you can see the difference in price. They also now make it easy to find any credits you have available.

Yes, I love that! I used to keep a spreadsheet so I wouldn't lose track of travel funds. I have always been kind of negative about Southwest IT, but they've certainly been working hard to step up their game as of late. They've assigned a couple of social media reps to keep an eye on Flyertalk, so you can get VERY fast results if you report a problem there.
 

sjsharkie

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IRROPS causing you to cancel/change the return flight.

Let's say there is a major IRROPS event that caused your outbound Alaska flight to be moved to the next day. You will have an easier time getting the return flight changed if you so desire without penalty or change fee, or will be allowed to cancel the entire trip for a full refund.

With a separate return ticket, you are likely stuck at the mercy of the airlines. I doubt they would refund your money since it is a separate non-refundable ticket, and they are not required to do anything at all other than provide you with a voucher/credit less any cancellation fees. (Even in your example as an MVP Gold Elite, you will still be stuck with a voucher versus a refund in that example. Probably minor difference considering how much an MVP Elite flies per year, but this would suck for a non-elite traveler -- voucher less cancel fee).

Note: Separate topic, but I anticipate eroding benefits for MVP Elites as Alaska transitions to oneworld membership -- they will likely start to align with other oneworld carriers most of which do not waive change fees for elite member tickets. (AA for example only waives change fees on award tickets.)

-ryan
 

buzglyd

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Alaska currently has a special offer of 50% more elite qualifying miles on flights between now and April 11th. You have to register.

I've got a round trip to HNL this month so I'm ready to earn!
 

sjsharkie

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IRROPS???

It would be nice, if you're going to use jargon, to please define it. Thanks.
Or you could google it and there are several sites that explain it. Sorry, since we were talking about elite membership status and frequent flying, I didn't think I needed to.
IRROPS = irregular operations or when things don't go as planned in commercial aviation

 

Luanne

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Or you could google it and there are several sites that explain it. Sorry, since we were talking about elite membership status and frequent flying, I didn't think I needed to.
IRROPS = irregular operations or when things don't go as planned in commercial aviation

I'd never heard of it either.
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Alaska currently has a special offer of 50% more elite qualifying miles on flights between now and April 11th. You have to register.

I've got a round trip to HNL this month so I'm ready to earn!
It appears that this offer, combined with corona virus open change policy, has swamped the Alaska Air reservation. I was just using the MVP Reservations number, which usually gets answered immediately, to rebook a flight where the fare had gone down. When I called they said the wait time was 6 to 11 minutes, so I opted to just go on hold instead of requesting a call-back. I can just continue plunking away on my keyboard while the hold music plays. Fifty minutes later I was still on hold. So I ended the call, and redialed, to get a call back. Now they were saying the wait time would be 30 to 50 minutes.

So I'm awaiting my call back ..... Meanwhile, life goes. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.
 

tseebach

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Alaska no longer gives you a credit for difference (with a year to use) when you find them offering a lower price on already booked flight. It ended about 18 months ago.
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Alaska no longer gives you a credit for difference (with a year to use) when you find them offering a lower price on already booked flight. It ended about 18 months ago.
As noted above, if you can make it to elite level (MVP Gold, 40 k qualifying miles per year), change and cancellation fees are waived, so any time the fare drops you can take advantage. That's a significant perk if you fly enough, and it makes it worth my while to do almost all of my flying on Alaska (which is precisely the reason that they offer that perk). In 2019 I recovered close to $1000 in reduced ticket costs.

Prices are starting to fall, presumably because of corona virus. Yesterday I changed a a reservation on one flight and saved $65. I changed the same flights and saved another $90. I have two other reservations made where I'm expecting to see pricing collations.

Car prices look as if they might be trending down as well.

***************

And sometimes you need to move quickly. That flight I changed today about noontime and saved $90 - about 12 hours later it's back up to the old price.
 
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