Flightlist Interviews 7 Travel Experts On Why They Book One-Way Flights

This article is the first part of our “Travel With Experts” series of interviews for Flightlist.

Credit Ross Parmly @ Unsplash, https://unsplash.com/@rparmly

Booking one-way flights is not for everyone, most people are not that flexible. But there is a growing trend of travelers who chose to book one-way flights as a means to save money, because they’re on a continuous journey or simply for greater flexibility.

In my case, I’ve been booking one-way flights for years, 10 to be exact. I tried to count the number of times I booked a return ticket in the last 10 years and I counted only one.

I spend my winters in Mexico so I book a ticket to go and another when I’m ready to return to Canada. It saves me from having to set a specific date and pay the fees to change the return date.

An in-depth study by the Airlines Reporting Corporation reveals a significant growth in the number of airline tickets issued for one-way travel, despite the commonly held assumption that round-trip tickets are a better value.

The report shows that the percentage of one-way trips expanded to 42% of air travel in 2017, up a whopping 45% from three years prior.

I know myself and my reasons for booking one-way tickets, but what about other travelers? Why do they do it? And what allows them the flexibility?

In order to understand this better, I interviewed a few travel experts to get their perspective.

I started by reaching out to international award-winning travel writer & photographer, Josh Bender, to get his perspective.

Hans (Flightlist): Tell us about yourself, what is it that you do which allows you to travel frequently?
Josh: I’m a professional travel blogger so a big part of what I do both professionally and personally, is travel. When I started my blog part time, I operated a web design agency and that gave me the opportunity to be location independent. Now the blog keeps this love of travel rolling. I try to keep trips relatively short (not a fan of major jet lag) so that makes travel more affordable too.
Hans (Flightlist): Why do you book one-way flights? What makes you click the “book now” button?
Josh: Since I’m largely nomadic, I don’t have anywhere to go back to. And in many cases I don’t even know where I’ll be going next when hitting the “book now” button. I like to keep things fluid and flexible, so if a great opportunity comes up I can jump on it. When picking flights I usually look at a few comparable dates to find out which ones are cheaper and plan my travel around that. Doing this can easily save 30–60% off flights, sometimes more.
Hans (Flightlist): If you were given the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, one-way, where would it be? And why?
Josh: Such a tough question. I’m a sucker for tropical climates, so I’d say a small island in the Caribbean… as long as it’s got a cocktail and hammock waiting for me ;-) Oh, and it needs fast internet speeds too. Everything else is completely optional.
Josh Bender, International award-winning travel writer & photographer

You can find Josh through his website, Travel with Bender, or on Twitter & Instagram.

That sounded familiar, I started my digital nomad lifestyle as a web developer as well.

The internet has given millions of people the ability to work online and definitely has had a major impact on travel trends.

A few new terms have popped up to describe these people; digital nomad, remote worker, location independent, solo-traveler, flexible traveler, etc., you get the idea.

A quick Google Trends search depicts an interesting correlation between these search terms and interest in one-way tickets.

Google Trends

Next, I reached out to travel couple Megan & Mike Jerrard, who over the past 10 years, have developed an obsession with travel. To the point where, at one stage, they sold her home and belongings to travel full time.

Hans (Flightlist): Tell us about yourself, what is it that you do which allows you to travel frequently?
Megan: I’m a 30-year-old travel addict and adrenaline junkie from Australia, with an incurable disease called “the travel bug”. I have a background in Journalism and Law, but my travel blog turned into a profitable business before I had the opportunity to apply for grad jobs! While having my name etched into a door in a law office would have been cool, the great thing about being a full-time blogger is that my office now ranges from villas in the Galapagos Islands, to beaches on the Great Barrier Reef, bungalows overlooking volcanoes in Costa Rica, and everywhere in between!
Hans (flightlist): Why do you book one-way flights? What makes you click the “book now” button?
Megan: Because it’s often cheaper than booking return flights, even when you’re booking two one way tickets. And it opens up a world of possibility / more flexibility for taking in additional destinations, and being able to make your way home from where-ever you might end up!
Hans (Flightlist): If you were given the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, one-way, where would it be? And why?
Megan & Mike: Iceland by far is one of our favorite places in the world. I would love to live there if I could. It is one of the last untouched destinations left on earth. It’s exotic, so naturally beautiful, and largely untouched by tourism which we absolutely love. The scenery takes your breath away.
Megan & Mike Jerrard of Mapping Megan

Join Megan & Mike on their travel blog Mapping Megan, on Twitter or Instagram.

Megan makes a good point. She said “it’s often cheaper than booking return flights, even when you’re booking two one way tickets. And it opens up a world of possibility / more flexibility for taking in additional destinations…”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Cailey Rizzo of Travel + Leisure explains in her article,

“Although it may defy conventional wisdom, airlines typically have charged more for one-way flights than round-trip in the past. This dates back to the deregulation era when airlines were competing for passengers. It was thought that if one-way tickets were fairly cheap, the passenger could choose another airline for their return trip. Keeping round-trip flights cheaper ensured that the passenger would ride the same airline for both legs of their trip.
But, since low-cost carriers have entered the game, the rules of ticketing have changed. Earlier this year, for example, Norwegian Air started offering $65 transatlantic flights to Europe. Although this airfare comes with a bevy of rules (and often fees), traditional airlines must change the way they compete. JetBlue’s sales often feature low-cost one-way airfare and United has started offering one-way sales, too.
For travelers, this means that the best deal on airfare may require a bit of research.” — Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure

For those of you wondering if this is possible with a family, I have good news for you. It is.

I reached out to a wonderful family of 4 from Canada, the Kosmans, who run a successful travel blog called The Barefoot Nomad. Micki & Charles Kosman travel the world with their son, Cole, and young daughter, Jordan.

Here’s what they had to say,

Hans (Flightlist): Tell us about yourself, what is it that you do which allows you to travel frequently?
The Kosmans: Hi, we’re Charles and Micki Kosman. We write about travel inspiration and helpful travel tips, as well as our travels as a family of four on The Barefoot Nomad. When we first started the site nine years ago, we used to split our time working short term IT contracts back home in Canada and traveling. However, for the last five years we’ve run a few websites, in addition to our travel blog, and, as a result, can now work anywhere we are in the world while still earning a decent income.
Hans (Flightlist): Why do you book one-way flights? What makes you click the “book now” button?
The Kosmans: We tend to book one way flights over return flights for the simple reason that we hate schedules and being trapped in defined timelines. We’d rather spend a few dollars more (and sometimes a few dollars less if we fly return out of a different airport) to have the option to extend our stay (or shorten it) as we see fit. We’ve scored some amazing deals over the years this way and have had opportunities pop up as we traveled that let us do some amazing last minute things, like spend a month we hadn’t anticipated in Sumatra, an extra week in the Galapagos Islands, and even a quick trip to Orlando to explore Harry Potter World with the kids. None of these would have happened had we booked a two way flight and been forced to leave before we were ready.
Hans (Flightlist): If you were given the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, one-way, where would it be? And why?
The Kosmans: If we could book a last minute one way flight to anywhere in the world right now it would probably be Tokyo, Japan. It’s been near the top of our list of want-to-go places for ages now and since our kids are older, love technology and also love places with unusual activities, we think Tokyo would be a great city to check out.
The Kosmans on the beach

If you’re curious about their travels around the world, check out their website or follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

The Kosmans see one-way tickets as an opportunity to visit new places & have wonderful new experiences with their children. There really is something in it for everyone.

So, where will you flying to next?