How to Find Cheap One-Way Flights

Cheap one-way flights are great for open-ended travel and for people who do not need to return anytime soon (for instance, if you are moving cross-country). Travelers who want a trip to Europe and still have a flexible schedule use one-way flights to maximize their options. But historically, one-way fares have been far more expensive per mile than round trip travel. While that is still true with some routes flown by legacy airlines like American and United/Continental, there are enough exceptions that finding cheap one-way flights is easier than ever.

The Five Things You Should Know to Find Cheap Airfares

Tips for Finding Cheap One-Way Fares
Start looking for cheap tickets three to four months before departure. FareCompare‘s flight search engine is a terrific resource for this, and it allows searches for one-way flights. Tuesday afternoons are excellent times to book tickets because airlines will have had time to match off the fare sales that typically begin Monday evening.

Generally, you will have the best luck with discount airlines such as JetBlue and Southwest – airlines that price tickets based on each segment. However, on particularly competitive routes, legacy carriers sometimes match – or even beat – discount airlines’ fares, even on one-way tickets.

Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

Beware of using “throwaway ticketing.” This is the practice of buying a cheap round-trip ticket, but then “forgetting” to come back. It is against airline rules, and if the airlines catch you, they can charge you for the more expensive one-way ticket or confiscate your unused flight coupons. Yes, people do this, but it can cost you if you are caught.

With flights to Europe, sites like Europe by Air offer flexible visitor tickets at a flat rate for use during a 120-day time period. Another option for travelers to Europe is to try Aer Lingus. This Irish airline sells fairly cheap one-way tickets between the U.S. and Ireland. This allows you to use Ireland as your gateway and arrange your European itinerary from there.

The Cheapest Time of Year to Fly: During “Dead Zones”

Airplane at SunsetFinding One-Way Fare Sales
On many airline websites, you can sign up to be notified of fare sales. One example is Southwest Airlines’ “Click and Save” weekly emails. Following airlines’ Twitter feeds is another good option. For example, JetBlue posts its “Cheeps” deals on Twitter every Tuesday. Many airlines use their Facebook pages to announce fare sales, so it’s a good idea to “Like” airline pages so you won’t miss out. Finally, signing up for FareCompare‘s air fare alerts will ensure you don’t miss out on great sales or last-minute fares.


Updated: August 23, 2017