A client recently asked me to look into some flights for his daughter, who will soon travel from New York (where she is currently studying) back home to Mumbai.

The young lady has no plans to return to the US anytime soon, so my client was considering a one-way ticket, preferably in business class.

A quick search with British Airways of her chosen travel dates in April threw up prices of more than USD 3,700 - in economy.


Business class was even scarier - with seats going for more than USD 7,300.

But adding a return segment (even for a year later) changes the game. That’s because airlines - at least most long-haul airlines - charge a huge premium for one-way tickets, figuring that they are often bought by business travellers who may have fixed commitments and may not be so price-sensitive.

Returning to my friend’s flights, I headed back to BA and selected business class flights for the outbound legs, and booked the return in economy.

The BA website is particularly useful for buying itineraries like this because, unlike some other airlines, it allows you to book sectors in different classes (if you search for economy, for example, the website also shows you prices for premium economy and business class).

My new itinerary priced out at just over USD 1,900.

That’s right, a business class/ economy return costs less than a one-way ticket in economy.

Generally speaking, it rarely pays to book one-way flights, though there are a handful of airlines who don’t penalise one-way travellers.

Portugal’s TAP, for example, regularly offers cheap one-way fares between the USA and Europe.

Oman Air is also known for reasonable one-way tickets. I recently booked business class flights from Mumbai to London (via Muscat) for just INR 66,208.

Anyone know of any other airlines offering cheap one-way fares?