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One way fares for lower summer USA travel

I spilled the beans in Boston. Over $200 worth of greenback beans over the WOW Airlines super cheap deal last October with $329 round trip fares to Copenhagen, Denmark.

You know all those super low $99 to Europe blog teasers and commercials showing you unbelievably low prices to Iceland from Baltimore or Boston?WOW, those add-on fees add up.

Seat assignments and baggage fees nearly doubled the low price for flights from Boston to Copenhagen. Still, two tickets to Copenhagen for $480 each all-in, with seat assignments and checked luggage too seemed like a price hard to beat for summer 2015 travel.

How expensive could it be to get from California to Boston?

Pretty darn expensive. Round trip airfare between California and Boston never dropped below $400 since October for the dates we needed to travel in July 2015. Well, maybe dropped for a day or two, but if that happened, I missed the sale opportunity.

Buy One Way Air Travel in the USA for Savings

For the past six months, the first strategy I saw last October remained the best strategy for cross country travel between California and Boston. While round trip to Boston never seemed to drop below $400 round trip for July 2015, and frequently has been in the $600 to $700 range, there were periodically low one-way fares in the $150 to $200 range.

The typical deal for the San Francisco – Boston route I observed was one-way around $150 to $200 in one direction and one-way $200 to $250 in the other direction. The directions changed, so sometimes SFO-BOS was $150 with a couple of airlines and BOS-SFO was $150 with an airline. Then they reverse prices for the directions, yet all the time the round trip price remained $400 with any one airline.

No award tickets have been offered among the major carriers at saver level for a 12,500 or 15,000 mile one way between SFO and Boston in July for some time.

This week I picked and clicked one way flights to Boston

I found $180 and $143 one-way fares with US Airways, Delta and United between San Francisco and Monterey to Boston. Flying different airlines and buying tickets on different days for the California outbound to Boston and Boston back to Monterey reduced the round trip ticket price by over $200. It was a risky strategy, but fluctuating airfare over the past three days allowed me to buy two one-way tickets for $200 less than the lowest round trip to Boston price.

When Low Cost Carriers Don’t Save Money

The ticket price for California to Copenhagen jumped from $480 Boston–Copenhagen to $800 round trip all-in with the additional Monterey to Boston flights. I could have purchased a United Airlines ticket ten days ago for $606 flying San Francisco to Stockholm, flying all Lufthansa operated aircraft with a shift of our summer travel dates by four days.

Airline tickets are basically nonrefundable once purchased, except for Southwest. International airline ticket change fees eat up $300 or $300 in value, if you need to cancel.

The trend in recent months is highly discounted economy airfare around the world with frequent regularity compared to years past.

Iceland Bonus

The primary benefit of flying WOW Air is an opportunity to fly over Iceland as we land in Reykjavik, Iceland’s Keflavik Airport KEF for a couple of hours to change WOW planes at their hub airport for the onward flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. No stopover in Iceland was allowed on our low fare tickets.

Bottom line is our trip to Copenhagen flying WOW Air is an $800 round trip ticket when there have been numerous opportunities to buy a ticket to Scandinavia for under $670 round trip from San Francisco for July 2015 travel. That is the gamble with advance purchase. The WOW ticket purchased in October 2014 was the farthest in advance, at nine months, than I have ever purchased an airline ticket. There really are some good airfare deals for 2015 travel on many airlines.

Boston Bonus

My idea is to make the best of an overpayment and tag on several days in Boston after the Copenhagen trip. Kelley has memories of our first air travel trip together to Boston in the summer of 1987. She does not want to tour Boston in July again, so I’ll travel fast and alone through Boston after she goes home to California.

The point of this post is to share my experience with my May and July travel within the USA for Orlando and Boston. For these two trips, I am flying four different airlines on four purchased one-way tickets with Alaska, Frontier, Delta and US Airways. I was able to shave about $250 off the total ticket prices compared to buying two round trip tickets to Orlando and Boston from San Francisco on any single airline for the dates I wanted to travel.

For both of these trips I purchased the outbound one-way ticket first and then waited to buy the return ticket when a low one-way fare back to California came around a day or two later that worked for my travel plans. A risky strategy if you do not have flexible dates, but a strategy that worked for me on these two trips.

Alaska Air

Check those one-way fares for USA travel and you might be surprised at an opportunity to reduce the cost of round trip flights by flying two different airlines on one-way tickets.

1 Comment

  • Dan May 4, 2015

    I discovered this some time ago—always price tickets as separate one way fares and see the price difference. Some promotions require a round trip being purchased and 2 one ways don’t get you the promotion benefit.

    An example out of Seattle Delta was offering silver status by flying 2 round trips out of Seattle good for the rest of the year.

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