Round trip ticket with unknown return date

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Apr 24, 2019
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#1
Hi--newbie and first-time poster here. Hoping to gain some insight. My daughter will be attending grad school in the UK beginning in September. I will be traveling with her (from JFK) for a week prior to her classes beginning and then returning home. She will not be returning home until the program concludes (approx 1 year later--we do not have firm dates yet). Any advice on finding an affordable way of dealing with her unknown return date? A one way ticket is absolutely out of our budget. My thought was I will choose a date as far out as I can (someone said that may be 330 days?) and then change the date and pay the change fee once we know when she can travel. Any suggestions? Airlines to avoid/choose in a situation like this? Thanks in advance for any help!
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
Will she be returning to the US just the one time, or is grad school a back-and-forth more than once.

I ask because you stated that "A one way ticket is absolutely out of our budget" . . .
 

Neil Maley

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#3
You will have to pay not only a change fee but any difference in the fare. If you book the ticket when booked far in advance might be cheaper them it will be when you know the date and are ready to change it. So you could be stuck with a hefty price increase besides the change fee.
 
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Dec 17, 2018
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#4
Hi--newbie and first-time poster here. Hoping to gain some insight. My daughter will be attending grad school in the UK beginning in September. I will be traveling with her (from JFK) for a week prior to her classes beginning and then returning home. She will not be returning home until the program concludes (approx 1 year later--we do not have firm dates yet). Any advice on finding an affordable way of dealing with her unknown return date? A one way ticket is absolutely out of our budget. My thought was I will choose a date as far out as I can (someone said that may be 330 days?) and then change the date and pay the change fee once we know when she can travel. Any suggestions? Airlines to avoid/choose in a situation like this? Thanks in advance for any help!
So my question is this... are the one way tickets THAT MUCH "more" than a roundtrip? I mean... let's say a RT is $2000 and a OW is $1300. Well... why not save the $700 now, put that money aside (you MUST do this if this plan is to work, either put that CC away and don't use it again, or take the money and put it in a savings account). Then, next YEAR, you'll probably get another OW for not that much more than you're paying now, and you'll have the funds you already saved up to pay for part of it. She shouldn't need two tickets now... she should have a visa that allows her to come and go as a student. I would assume anyway. Now if they are telling her she HAS to have a return ticket... then yeah... I get what you're saying. But I'd check and see if you can do what I suggested and just do a OW now and then another OW a year from now.
 
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Apr 24, 2019
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#5
Will she be returning to the US just the one time, or is grad school a back-and-forth more than once.

I ask because you stated that "A one way ticket is absolutely out of our budget" . . .
She will only be returning home the one time-it's a one year program.
 
Apr 24, 2019
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#6
So my question is this... are the one way tickets THAT MUCH "more" than a roundtrip? I mean... let's say a RT is $2000 and a OW is $1300. Well... why not save the $700 now, put that money aside (you MUST do this if this plan is to work, either put that CC away and don't use it again, or take the money and put it in a savings account). Then, next YEAR, you'll probably get another OW for not that much more than you're paying now, and you'll have the funds you already saved up to pay for part of it. She shouldn't need two tickets now... she should have a visa that allows her to come and go as a student. I would assume anyway. Now if they are telling her she HAS to have a return ticket... then yeah... I get what you're saying. But I'd check and see if you can do what I suggested and just do a OW now and then another OW a year from now.
No, the problem is the one way ticket is more than twice as expensive as the round trip! (as in, $3200 for one way vs. about $1300 for the round trip!)...but without knowing her exact return date it becomes nearly impossible to buy a round trip ticket.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#7
How much is a one-way ticket FROM the country where she will be a student, back to the US?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#10
Just book the round trip ticket with a) return on any special date (assuming it is cheap, you dont lose anything and open the possibility of a mid trip return), or b) any other cheap date return. I do not think you will be able to change it so for the return you probably have to do the same.

By the way, sometimes a oneway ticket is much more expensive, but not always...actually I just bought (and flew) from Milan to Lima (connecting in Miami) in AA and it was around 500usd. I found it in google flights and booked directly with AA. Have you tried google flights?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#11
Given the difference you cited, I would consider booking the return flight for 7-10 days after her scheduled graduation. The extra lodging for that period should be far less than the extra cost for the one-way ticket . . .
 

JVillegirl541

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Nov 21, 2014
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#12
Check one way tickets in Condor Air. I have flown one way trips with them and the prices are extremely reasonable and as long as you purchase Premium Economy the flight is comfortable.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#14
Several solutions ... find a good travel agent, keep checking r/t and o/w fares, buy a r/t and change it when you have a solid date of return. In my experience, o/w fares are no longer much of a problem, so check all the airlines. A TA may charge you a small fee for booking, but will get you the best tix available to suit your needs. Do not use an online booking service, book directly with the airline you chose.
 

Carrie Livingston

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Jan 6, 2015
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#15
Several solutions ... find a good travel agent, keep checking r/t and o/w fares, buy a r/t and change it when you have a solid date of return. In my experience, o/w fares are no longer much of a problem, so check all the airlines. A TA may charge you a small fee for booking, but will get you the best tix available to suit your needs. Do not use an online booking service, book directly with the airline you chose.
I can't like this enough. I would definitely find a travel agent to help with this. I don't recall the information on how to search for a licensed travel agent but the agent doesn't necessarily be in your area. You could really use a travel agent anywhere as long as they can be reached via phone and email.
 
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Neil Maley

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#16
No, the problem is the one way ticket is more than twice as expensive as the round trip! (as in, $3200 for one way vs. about $1300 for the round trip!)...but without knowing her exact return date it becomes nearly impossible to buy a round trip ticket
What you are doing is almost a variation of a hidden city ticket - booking a ticket with a throw away date just to save money vs a one way ticket.

It might cost you a lot more than you think it will. Keep in mind that when you go to change the date the airline is going to reprice the return ticket to the price of a current ticket besides a change fee. You won’t get go keep the same price you see today. You could end up paying as much when they change the ticket as you would if you had just booked a one way.
 

Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#17
I have done this in the past, successfully, with Delta between the US and the UK. In my case there was no difference in fare other than the change fee. Even with a difference in fare I can't imagine the fare difference being so great that it would be better to buy two one way tickets. You could also call the airline immediately after making the booking and see if they would be willing to waive the change fee and to annotate the reservation accordingly (but this would not stop you from having to pay the difference in fare). Some airlines (like Delta) are more accommodating than others in that regard. In my case it was connected with a bereavement so they may not be as lenient with you but it never hurts to ask.

One other point is that sometimes the airlines change the schedule for flights after booking them. If that happens with the return trip after you book the trip and the change is significant then they may also allow you to change the ticket without any extra cost. The rules of what constitutes a major change appear to be different for each airline.

You may want to check prices using a search site like kayak though just to make sure that there are not low cost carrier alternatives where a one-way is not outrageously expensive. Just be careful to book on the actual airline's website.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#18
What you are doing is almost a variation of a hidden city ticket - booking a ticket with a throw away date just to save money vs a one way ticket.

It might cost you a lot more than you think it will. Keep in mind that when you go to change the date the airline is going to reprice the return ticket to the price of a current ticket besides a change fee. You won’t get go keep the same price you see today. You could end up paying as much when they change the ticket as you would if you had just booked a one way.
This is why I'm advising finding a good travel agent.
 
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Barry Graham

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Jan 7, 2015
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#19
I also believe that hidden city ticketing and buying a round trip when you don't need one are wrong things to do. However since the intention is to use the return ticket I don't see this as dishonest in this particular case. Unless you really know what you are doing it's difficult to buy a fully changeable round trip ticket since by default the airlines show you the cheapest price which is usually non-refundable with a change fee.
 
#20
Granted this was a long time ago (20 yrs), but when I did a lot of international travel as an undergrad and grad student I used STA travel, it is a travel site for college-age students (I think you age-out at 25 or 26), that you can access if you have an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). When I used STA travel they made it easier to change a return ticket, and had more flexibility built into travel plans for students. It may be different now, but perhaps worth looking into?
 
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