Round Trip Cheaper Than One Way Fare?



I searched fares on United from Melbourne, Australia to Los Angeles, USA. Anyway for economy the round trip is quoted at roughly $1,100 and one way is around $1,800. This doesn’t make sense to me. Am I reading it wrong or is there a reason?



No you are reading it correctly. In most cases one way fares in the US are more than round trip. One exception I can think of us Southwest.


Just a difference in demand.


So is $1,100 the fare each way for the round trip bringing the total to $2,200 or is $1,100 the overall fare?


If you want to go with a round-trip fare, it’s 1800. If you want to go one-way, each way, it’s 1100 x 2. Round-trip locks you in to your departure and return dates. If you want to change your return, for example, it will more than likely cost you $150 plus any difference in fare. So, if for any reason, your return date is in question, you may want to go with a one way over and the same on the return. But then, of course, the fares can change. Oh… same change rules apply to the one-way fare as apply to the round-trip, too.


Round trip flights have, since almost the beginning of the airline industry, been cheaper than twice the one way fare.

Most common in the years prior to the 1960’s was a 10% discount on the round trip (and there was only 1 fare per class/per route, not a dozen and a half!).

Another great thing that fares use to have was free stopovers. If you were flying, for example, from SFO to JFK via STL, you could stop off at STL for a few days and then continue your journey with no additional fare charged. This great practice seems to have gone away beginning in the latter part of the 1960’s.


There still are free stopovers on most international routes.