a passport with a credit card in it

From minimum stay requirements to punishing one way tickets with 5x the fare price, airline ticketing rules can be ultra confusing. In a world where points are everywhere, and articles about how to hack the system are too – the only question is when they’ll give up on these silly practices, and start seeing logic. Don’t they want us to buy their tickets?

If you’ve searched for enough flights, you’ve probably seen it yourself. You just need a one way ticket, but for some odd reason, it’s cheaper to book the same flight as a round trip. One way, it’s $750, but book a round trip including the same exact flight as the $750 one way, and it’s a mere $300. All you have to do? No show for the flight back.

How – on – earth – does – that – make – sense? For anyone?!

a black board with white text and yellow and red numbersThe same goes for minimum stays, where leaving on a Monday saves you 75%, just by forcing you to spend one extra night in a city. Back in the days when airlines had central ticketing offices and paper slips were mailed, it was fair enough, but in a world where people have a variety of resources like points at their disposal, travel is rarely as straight forward as it once was.

And side note: do you remember how nerve racking it was back in those paper ticket days, to be sure that you had all the paper stubs ready for check in? No paper, no fly.

Thanks to points and miles being everywhere, for everything from eating your lunch to shopping online, people have options every time they look at travel. Perhaps you have enough points to fly one way, but not round trip. Perhaps you aren’t quite sure when you’ll return – the reasons for booking non traditional round trip tickets are endless, and it’s time airlines stopped playing games.

Why? Because their games are too easy to beat, and some airlines have already given in.

a passport with a credit card in itNorwegian may never win awards for in flight comfort, but if you want to book a one way, you can book one at an ultra cheap low price. There’s no penalty for how long you stay, how short you stay, or whether you’re just fixing one piece of your travel puzzle with them. Heck, I’ve quite often flown them one way, and flown first class using points in the other direction.

It works out pretty well, and similar options exist with most discount or new age carriers, including JetBlue, Ryanair, Southwest and more. The only ones not budging tend to be the legacy airlines, who arguably have the most to lose.

a white airplane in the skyLooking forward, if legacy airlines don’t offer competitive one way fares, or abolish silly ticketing restrictions, they’ll lose more and more money to the airline which does offer a competitive fare that fits our increasingly unique travel needs. It’s safe to say I’m not flying Ryanair one way out of my love of their seats, service or virtually anything – I’m just a price conscious traveller. If I had even a similarly priced offering from a major airline, I’d pay a bit more – but not 10x more.

For those hoping for a quantitive answer, there isn’t one necessarily, but the times are near. Airlines are moving to new systems of displaying, marketing and launching airfares, which make them both more transparent and easier to manage for airlines. In other words, these new systems like NDC may help airlines get back in touch with their customers.

With each year, we’ve seen major cuts to the rules and restrictions on fares, and as emerging airlines beat the drum, we can only expect that to continue. It may not be the way it should be now, but with any hope, that’ll change in the next few years. In the meantime, learn all the tricks of the trade

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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