Until recently, folks didn’t have to worry about comparing the cost of a multi-city flight itinerary to multiple one-way tickets.
Because the airlines’ reservation computers would automatically find the cheapest seats for each leg of the trip, and add them up for the total cost of the ticket.
But United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines have changed the way they price multi-city itineraries!
I’ll explain what this means for you.
Certain Airlines Changed Their Ticketing Rules
United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines changed their ticketing rules so that folks can no longer string together the cheapest fares for each leg of their trip. So now you’ll have to compare the cost of a multi-city itinerary with separate one-way tickets!
I compared a couple of itineraries to see how this new rule affects ticket prices.
Buying 2 One-Way Tickets Can (Sometimes) Save You Money
For example, say you’re finishing up a work trip in New York, and you’re going to Florida to visit family in Fort Myers and Orlando, before heading home to San Francisco.
If you book this multi-city trip on one ticket with Delta, you’d pay ~$732.
But if you booked multiple one-way tickets, you’d save money!
Breaking this trip into 2 one-way tickets would cost ~$659 (~$267 + ~$392). Saving you ~$73 (~$732 – ~$659).
It might not seem like much, but if you fly a lot it can add up! And this method could save you even more on other itineraries.
But do your research! Because I found other multi-city itineraries that were NOT cheaper when split into multiple one-way tickets. And some were even more expensive!
Sometimes Buying Multiple One-Way Tickets Doesn’t Make Sense!
Like this ticket on United Airlines, similar to the example above, from New York (LaGuardia) to Fort Myers. Then from Orlando to San Francisco.
Booking this trip on one multi-city ticket would cost ~$561.
And if you split it into 2 one-way tickets, the first leg would cost ~$236.
And the second leg of the trip would cost ~$330.
For a total of ~$566 (~$236 + ~$330). So you’d pay slightly more by purchasing separate one-way tickets.
Just remember, if you have to change your trip and you’ve booked multiple one-way tickets, you’ll ALSO have to pay a change fee for each ticket. This would be very expensive!
And if one of your flights is delayed and you miss the next leg of your trip, it can be a hassle to re-book your flight. Especially if it’s with a different airline.
If you’re interested in travel insurance, check out my post about the cards that offer the best coverage for trip delays and cancellations.
American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines changed the way they price multi-city tickets. So you can no longer string together the lowest priced seats on one itinerary.
I experimented and found that SOMETIMES it was cheaper to purchase multiple one-way tickets instead of a single multi-city itinerary. But in some cases the prices were almost identical. Or even more expensive.
With these changes, you’ll have to compare the cost of purchasing each leg of your itinerary separately with the price for a single ticket with multiple stops. Because you want to make sure you’re getting the best price!
Just remember, if your plans change and you’ve booked multiple one-way tickets, you’ll be stuck with a lot of change fees. So consider the pros and cons when deciding how to book your trip!
Have you recently booked a trip with multiple one-way tickets to save money? Let me know in the comments!