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Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Return?

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:05 pm
by Neverest
I have noticed that one-way fares are routinely more expensive than return fares on most airlines. As an example, I am checking fares CDG-EWR, the Air France site quotes fares for June at 2,277 euros one-way and 720 euros return. Do the airlines not see the chance that someone would buy a return ticket and just let the return portion lapse.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:25 pm
by jgw787
Businessmen/women that travel at a moments notice and may not now when they can return.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:25 am
by aklrno
It's just another way for airlines to try to get a few extra dollars from customers who have no other choice while keeping cheap seats for people who are able to shop around or plan. They also want you to buy both legs on the same airline, kind of like a quantity discount, but the price difference is usually much larger than is justified by a quantity discount. I hate it, so that's why whenever possible I avoid airlines that do it. I end up flying WN on a lot of US domestic flights simply because they don't do that and don't charge a huge change fee.

I would feel better about it if the airline had to pay me a similar penalty if they cancel or change my return flight for reasons other than weather. Actually, that's not that far-fetched. I remember when the airlines had no penalty for overbooking.

It would be interesting if, for a given route, one airline had a better outbound schedule and another a better return schedule. Could each end up with too many empty seats one way or another? That could influence RT pricing, but still the difference in the OP is too much for that explanation.

I think it is all a part of the airline industry's scheme to see how many people they can get to hate them before it drives them into bankruptcy. They often seem to go over the line.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:06 am
by Coal
It should be noted this is generally the case in Europe, N. America, and with the legacy Asian carriers. However, I noticed most budget airlines in SE Asia and all airlines (or most anyway) in China offer one-way fares that are exactly half of round trip fares.

Cheers
Coal

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:20 am
by bj87
Quoting Neverest (Thread starter):
Do the airlines not see the chance that someone would buy a return ticket and just let the return portion lapse.

I have actually done that. That is why airlines overbook most flights. A lot of passengers will be no shows and they can fill the seats with other paying customers.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:30 am
by MD11Bob
It basically is a tool of yield management by the airlines. They force you to go into certain categories where they can steer prices upon certain behaviour patterns, I think the Sunday rule (or better, the Staurday night rule) is the most prominent example for this. The airline tries to block certain customer groups (e.g. business people) from taking cheaper fares which should remain open for other clients, as leisure passengers, which have a lower willingness to pay and are more open to take restrictions. Business people usually would try to avoid staying over the weekend at the destination, while the leisure passenger would like to do so if he can save a couple of bucks. On the other side, higher prices can prevent leisure passengers from booking valuable flights (with valuable I mean peak time flights) so that they do not fill seats which could be filled with prime-yield passengers.

Now if you as an airline would let them book oneways, there is no way to push them into certain categories, you would have to either offer cheap prices (which wastes the money as you can not cream off the willingness to pay higher fares from biz pax) or you offer expensive prices and reject leisure passngers. Therefore, if you decide to take a oneway, the airline will offer you the standard IATA fare for the route, and that is usually quite expensive  

This explanation is of course simplified a lot, as yield management is a very complicated topic in the airline industry nowadays (some say it is a science on its own).

Robert

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:49 am
by MD11Bob
Oh and just to add that, it is of course just one business model, among others. An airline either decides to do so, or to chose a different model. That is why some airlines, especially low-cost airlines, but also others, offer independant prices, that means the same price on a certain date at a certain time of booking, no matter if it is the outbound leg, the inbound leg, oneway or return.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:07 pm
by lhr380
Quoting bj87 (Reply 4):
I have actually done that.

IF you must do that, a word of warning. Make sure the leg you want if the first and not second part of the ticket. A lot of major carriers will not let you use the 2nd flight if the 1st is not used.

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:47 pm
by AeroWesty
Quoting Neverest (Thread starter):
Do the airlines not see the chance that someone would buy a return ticket and just let the return portion lapse.

If you really only want to buy a one-way ticket, but in a premium cabin, a little-known trick is booking Business Class outbound, and Economy returning, to take advantage of discounted Business Class fares that must be booked as a part of round-trip journeys.

Example: QF LHR-SIN return in Business is £3,830, that books into D-class.

If you buy a one-way ticket in Business, the QF fare books into the more expensive J-class for £4,362.

But booking D-class outbound in Business and V-class returning in Economy yields a total fare of £2,342 round-trip. You've just saved £2,020, and simply toss the return ticket in Economy. Depending upon the route and season, booking that way can even be cheaper than standard one-way fares in Economy.

(I used May 9 outbound with May 16 returning for the fare info, if you want to replicate my example.)

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:51 am
by joffie
I have been looking at some fares from Europe to America, LH want $700 return opposed to $3000 one way per person, however just wondering, does, or has an airline tried to ever charge your card the full amount for only using the one way?

RE: Why Are One-way Fares More Expensive Than Retu

Posted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:48 am
by AeroWesty
I've never heard of airlines claiming additional payment for the fare difference, but I have read threads where airlines (British, in particular) have tracked full usage of flight coupons as far as mileage-earning is concerned.

More than one person has reported BA clawing back miles earned when someone repetitively purchases a ticket say, AMS-LHR-JFK-LHR-AMS, then drops the LHR-AMS flight. In those circumstances, the people were buying fares in Europe, such as AMS, where the fare to JFK was substantially lower than ex-LHR.

For a one-off ticket I wouldn't worry about it. If you plan on doing it repetitively, and a pattern can be established, I'd think about forgoing the miles/status if the fare savings is substantial.