Which is the Best Flight Ticket to Book? One-way, Round Trip and Multi-City Tickets Explained – FAQ Fridays

This week on FAQ Friday we discuss the best flight tickets to book. If you’re wondering whether you should be booking one-way flights, round trip fares or multi-city tickets this video should help you.

Video Transcription

Welcome to another edition of Traveltart’s FAQ Fridays with me, Nick Paul.

For the past few weeks we’ve been answering your frequently asked travel questions in these videos. Thanks so much for sending them in, keep them coming! Who knows, we may make them into a video next week.

We were asked a question this week about whether it’s cheaper to buy 2 one way tickets or a round trip ticket and thought this was a good opportunity to explain these two concepts as well as that of multi-city tickets.

First of all, let’s define these terms:

  • One-way tickets refer to a journey which starts in one place, and goes to a destination but doesn’t include a return journey. E.g. Joburg to London, either direct or via another city.
  • Round trip tickets refer to journey which go to a destination and return from that destination back home again. E.g. Joburg to London and back, either direct or via another city.
  • Multi-city tickets refer to a journey which is broken for longer than 24 hours in more than one point on the trip. E.g. Joburg to London via Dubai with 3 days in Dubai and a week in London.

To understand how this all works, we must start with round trip tickets:

A round trip ticket (also known as a return ticket) may look like it’s made of 2 one-way tickets, for example: Cape Town to Joburg and back again contains 2 flights, one for the way there, and one for the way back.

Are these not just 2 one way tickets?

For local flights within South Africa, you’d be right, these are in fact made up of 2 one-way tickets. It’s for this reason that Travelstart’s website is able to mix and match different airlines in each direction to get you a cheaper deal.

This rule doesn’t apply to international flights though; here flight prices are usually worked out as full round trip tickets and one-way tickets are usually worked out as 75% of a round trip fare and a relevant portion of the taxes.

So quitting your job to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand and buying the one-way ticket back “when you feel like returning from paradise”, might not work out very cheaply. That, and immigration officials will not let you into the country without proof that you’re leaving within the allotted time.

This rule is even truer for flights on certain airlines like KLM and Lufthansa, and especially for flights to destinations in North America, where many airlines don’t do one way tickets at all. In fact if you try and buy a one way ticket here you’ll end up paying more than for a round trip ticket.

And weirder still, if you travel only to your destination and try to apply for a refund for the return portion of your ticket, the airline may try and charge you for the difference between a round trip ticket and a one way ticket!

So, let’s touch quickly on multi-city tickets.

Multi-city tickets often work out cheaper than making multiple round trip journeys to different destinations. However, with each break in the journey the airline may charge you a fee, also the country in question may charge you extra security or passenger duties. This is most evident on flight tickets via the UK, where a break in the journey in London adds a minimum of around R1500 to the ticket price. But, if you’re travelling on a flight like that, it’s certainly cheaper to break the journey than to make another separate trip to the city. ​

So that’s it from me this week on FAQ Fridays. If you have any travel-related questions please ask them in the comments below and we may make a video about them. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel here.


Our Readers Comments

  1. info

  2. My daughter is going over to work in the UK for a year. She obviously needs to buy a return ticket (although she is a full British citizen)but can she easily change the return date? What are her options here?

    • Hi Yvonne, we have just the solution – we offer “Flexible Ticket” booking as an optional extra. This will allow your daughter to a date change. This will depend on availability though. – Liam

  3. What if i plan to stay with family in the UK (Scotland) for 5-6 months, have my valid multi-entry visa already, but am not sure when in the 6 months i will be coming back? Can i still use a one way ticket?

    • Hi Wesley,

      Unfortunately you will not be allowed in on a one-way ticket. You will have to buy a return ticket.

      – Liam

  4. What about a open flight ticket? It is more expensive than one one ticket only?

    • Great question – it is very rare that airlines offer them. If they do offer these it is generally far more expensive than booking a flight and paying for a change fee at a later stage. Travelstart flexi-ticket bookings as well which allow you to make changes based on availability.

      – Liam

  5. Great and informative utube clip….keep them coming.
    I have a question:
    How does a company like yours, counter the approach of online agents like hipmunk or skyscanner where they have a 60 or 90 day spread and you can get significant savings by being date flexible?
    Also it it an urban myth that booking at different times of the day ,can have an influence on ticket cost

    • Hi Laurence,

      Thank you for the good question. We have not had many complaints that our 1 week spread has been too short. With many of these sites – these prices are not regularly updated. Ours on the other hand, are updated much more regularly, as we are SA based and it’s easier for us to handle. To answer your second question – this used to be the case, but this is no longer true as the airlines are now able to adjust their prices dynamically at any time during the day.

      Please let us know if you have any more questions.

      – Liam

  6. Hallo,
    I don’t know if this is the right thread(please appropriately).
    I booked a ticket on an airline for my spouse, she is SA citizen. She was travelling to country A, which requires no visa, but she mentioned irene Ray might pass (B) UK or Central Europe(C) and the check in refused to give boarding pass to destination A, which had a full return ticket.

    Does anyone know how to deal with that as it was not the port authority but the check-in desk??? Any reasonable explanation to the airline that only destination A is what we want was refused tone heard nad we ended up loosing the ticket 🙁


    • Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      When a passenger purchases a ticket they will need to see if they need the required documents like visa’s / transit visa’s or any medical certificates.

      If the passenger is not able to present these at the check-in desk the airline has to refuse them boarding or they will get fined for letting them through without having the correct / relevant documentation.

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