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Why do one-way flights cost so much more?

Travel Forums General Talk Why do one-way flights cost so much more?

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1. Posted by sapphyre (Respected Member 418 posts) 7y

Hi all,

a friend and I were checking out flights for our September trip. We were wondering why one-way flights within Europe cost so much more than a return flight? It will cost him 1008euros to fly from Kuopio to Istanbul one-way but only 350euros return by Finnair.

I've noticed this with flights within Europe but not with others (Then again I'm not that familiar with non-international flights). There is usually some minor differences due to taxes but I think the margin above was quite ridiculous. Anyone knows why?

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 7y

That's not universally true at all. In that particular market it might be true, but just look at the many LCC's in Europe that offer fantastic one-way bargains. The airline business is not a simple, one business model industry - it's very complicated, and very difficult to make a profit in this culture of regulation and safety. Generally, RT's are what the public buys in large numbers - these are the fares that are put on sale. One-ways don't amount to a dent in an airline's bottom line. If you want a bargain fare - search in a market with a great deal of competition.

3. Posted by Buzzcock (Full Member 178 posts) 7y

You'll find that with European budget airlines, prices are always costed per individual flight, so a return is no cheaper than two singles (excepting for any minor differences in exchange rates), eg a single from Birmingham to Prague will be priced in British pounds, a single from Prague to Birmingham will be priced in Czech krona (kroner?). A return ticket will be priced in the currency of the original departure country (as you would expect).

4. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

It is an interesting scenario. It's possible to get a flight with Ryanair from GB to Italy for £7 one way - and coming back (same route, same airline - within a week) it can cost €75. Then again, it maybe the other way round. There is also the case of getting a one way to Varna with Wizzair (as I'm shortly doing) for £31 and my flight back is double. Or I can get 2 flights back (with a change in Sofia) with 2 different airlines and it works out cheaper.
The secret is, as frustrating as it sometimes gets, to sit in front of your PC monitor for hours on end - and you'll see that there are so many combinations available, with endless different prices.

5. Posted by sapphyre (Respected Member 418 posts) 7y

Thanks for the replies guys!

I think I should clarify my friend's scenario. He checked Finnair and the one-way trip cost 1000euros but the same return trip (ie both flights to Istanbul and back) was only 350euros. It really puzzled us. We don't usually fly budget and try to avoid transits as much as possible.

The airline industry really is puzzling!

6. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 7y

Quoting sapphyre

Thanks for the replies guys!

I think I should clarify my friend's scenario. He checked Finnair and the one-way trip cost 1000euros but the same return trip (ie both flights to Istanbul and back) was only 350euros. It really puzzled us. We don't usually fly budget and try to avoid transits as much as possible.

The airline industry really is puzzling!

Mainly two reasons:
1. Because if a one way ticket was about 50% of the return price, than when the plane would be full for the return trip than you simply look for a different airline. If you sell relatively cheap return tickets and the plane is full (for one leg or both), than you don't go to another airline but check another date.
2. Because they rely partly on business travellers who will pay higher fares for one-ways because (unlike most tourists/travellers) they are not really sure when their return leg will be. So simply because they just get away with it..;) Ever wondered why tickets might regularly be cheaper when there is a Saturday night involved? That's why.

So it simply means more reliability regarding having passengers on board of YOUR plane/airline.
You are also paying generally for more flexiblity regarding one-way tickets, but this is not always true.

Lowcost airlines have different policies though, with having the first cheap tickets being actually paid by people who book later and pay maybe more than regular airlines. In the end, the average price revenue might be the same.
That latter is what most people above ment and is easily explained by this.

cheers!

7. Posted by sapphyre (Respected Member 418 posts) 7y

Cheers Utrecht, that certainly made you sound like a guru

Can't say I understood reason 1 but the others certainly made sense.

8. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5596 posts) 7y

Quoting sapphyre

Cheers Utrecht, that certainly made you sound like a guru

Can't say I understood reason 1 but the others certainly made sense.

You know, it is quite difficult for me to understand as well. I know they are reasons, I read this millions of times elsewhere and even had a few things about this at my education (I am a traffic planner) but that's at least 8 or 9 years ago...;)

Let's see what the (near) future will bring. If lowcostairlines will survive maybe more and more 'regular' airliners will go and make their one ways about 50% of a return as well. If not, we might be stuck with this crappy policy which negatively effects travellers like us that want to be as flexible as others...

9. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

The problem seems to me flying from Kuopio. According to wikipedia only 5 airlines serve the airport and the only international flights leaving from Kuopio are with airBaltic to RIX. All other flights go to Helsinki or Tampere. Thus Finnair has almost no competion - almost all passengers heading to international destinations fly domestic to Helsinki and then continue from there, with Finnair of course. And Helsinki-Istanbul direct is only served by Finnair and Turkish Airlines. Not a lot of competition.

If you are still looking for flights, check airBaltic. On Fr 4th, on Mon 14th and on Tue 15th there are one-way flights that go KUO-RIX-IST for under 300 EUR. So far that seems to be the best choices.

BTW, have you checked whether you can buy the 350 EUR return ticket with Finnair and throw the return leg away? Or whether there is the option of changing the date and time of the return flight free of charge or for a small fee?

10. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

You say you don't usually fly budget. Is that because you don't like it for some reason - or you've just never tried it??