This may be a one-way ticket to big savings.
Stop defaulting to just looking at round-trip airfare prices when you buy plane tickets. An analysis by airfare research app Hopper found that booking two one-way tickets — otherwise known as hacker fares — rather than a round-trip ticket can save you money pretty often.
“On domestic routes, we found hacker fares will be cheaper 11% of the time and offer an average savings of 10% or $33,” Hayley Berg, an economist at Hopper, told MarketWatch.
If you’re going overseas, the savings can be even bigger: “On international routes, we found hacker fares will be cheaper 18% of the time and offer an average savings of 14% or $92,” she said.
Of course, those are just averages, so sometimes the savings could be even more. Travel site KAYAK KYAK, >+0.00% — which has a section for hacker fares — found that it could mean up to 40% in savings.
Hacker fares may be particularly relevant for people who live in cities serviced by multiple airlines, particularly budget airlines that offer dirt-cheap rates. Indeed, recent sales (though now over) included one-way Caribbean flights for $59, domestic flights for $69 and European flights for under $100. Often with deals like these the return flight on the same airline is significantly higher.
Hacker fares tend to offer the biggest savings in certain cities, according to a new analysis from KAYAK. Booking hacker fares to Kona, Hawaii, and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., tend to offer the biggest savings (around 22%), followed by St. Augustine, Fla.; Palm Springs, Calif., and Niagara Falls.
Expert flyers like George Hobica, founder of airline deal site AirfareWatchdog.com, say they frequently look for one-way tickets to save money for reasons other than just the savings on airfare.
Sometimes the timing is better, Hobica explains: “Maybe the flight times on a round-trip ticket on A or B might not be ideal for your schedule; buying one-ways you have more flight-time flexibility.”
And it could lead to lower cancellation fees, he says: “Let’s say you buy a $300 round-trip on [airline] A and need to change or cancel the outward trip or the return trip. You’ll forfeit $200 in cancellation fees,” he explains. “But if you’ve bought a $150 one-way on A and a $150 one-way return on B and you are only changing/cancelling one of the flights, you’re only out $150 (the cost of one of the segments).”