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:
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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