Expert tip 7: When booking award travel, consider booking one-way trips

Several airlines allow booking one-way award trips. If they do, always search for your award trip as both a round trip or as two one-way trips. The miles needed for booking usually adds up to be the same. At the most, if there is a booking fee, you may have to pay that twice. There are multiple reasons to do this:

Seat availability:

Surprising as it may seem, I have in some cases found availability when I have searched for a one-way award trip that did not show up for a round trip. Secondly, if you find award seats available one way, you can book it and look for alternate routes back. Maybe from another near-by airport (making it an open-jaw) or taking a multi-stop route back. For example, I helped someone search for an award trip from New York to Singapore. On the outbound, they got JFK-FRA-SIN, but there was no return award seats available. We were however able to find a return via Tokyo: SIN-NRT-EWR. This was not a legal round trip (RTW actually), but were bookable as two one-way trips.

Class of travel:

I wanted to make a round trip award booking recently in business class. Business class was only available one way. If I had booked a round trip, I was going to be charged miles for a business class award, even though only one-way was in business. For a ‘mixed cabin’ award, the miles charged are for the highest class booked in any segment. I made the booking was two one-way trips. One way in Business and the return in Economy. Saved me a bucket of miles.

Changing your plans:

For award travel, most airlines do not allow for any changes once the trip has started. For a round-trip, that means once you have started the first leg of your trip, you cannot make any cnahges to your return trip. With two one-ways, the return is not connected to the outgoing segment and can be change independently.

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  1. one possible disadvantage, is that if you cancel an award trip and have to pay to have the miles restored to your account, you will have to pay twice as much when you have two separate bookings.

  2. There are several other major disadvantages of doing this.
    For example on most airlines you will forgo the ability to do a stop over and Openjaw as part of the same ticket which allows you some really great mileage maximization possibilities that lose out on this way.

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