What Is a Return Ticket?


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About the author:

Co-founder and Chief Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Kaspars is a digital nomad and travel blogger who’s been traveling the world extensively since 2013. Since 2017, Kaspars has been writing about the less-known aspects of air travel, things like air passenger rights laws and regulations. He’s really good at simplifying complex concepts and making them easily understandable. Kaspars favorite airlines are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

A return ticket or a one-way ticket?

A return ticket is an airline ticket that includes both outbound and inbound flights. In simpler terms, it’s a round-trip ticket that allows you to go to your destination and come back home (to the city of departure) on the same ticket. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at return tickets, and why they’re an excellent option for more and more travelers.


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People at the airport

1. What Is a Return Ticket?

A return ticket, as mentioned earlier, is a round-trip ticket.

It comprises two flights – the outbound flight from one country to your destination and the inbound flight from your destination back to this first country, oftentimes your home country. This ticket is booked and paid for at the same time. The return ticket can be valid from a few days to several months, depending on your travel itinerary and airline policies.

These may also be two connecting flights, each consisting of two or more flights (legs), bringing the total number of flights up to four, six or more flights.

1.1 Most Travelers Buy a Return Ticket

This is the most common option, most people buy return tickets.

Way less people are traveling with a one-way ticket. Partly due to the fact that this is how we mostly travel – we are going somewhere, and then we come back in a few days or few weeks. Partly due to the fact that there are some possible problems when traveling internationally with a one-way ticket.

There are situations, when you may be denied boarding if you don’t have an onward ticket (return ticket or ticket to some other country).

1.2 Return Ticket or Round-Trip Ticket?

That’s the same thing.

A round-trip ticket is a return ticket. Because it includes both the ticket to your destination and back to from where you are starting the journey.

Bahrain airport arrivals
Bahrain airport arrivals

2. Are Round-Trip Flights Cheaper?

Very often, yes – round-trip flights are cheaper.

Here we are comparing price of a single round-trip vs two one-way flights.

But, of course, it isn’t true in all situations and with all airlines. It is true in a lot of situations with full-service airlines, like Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines which are also 5-star airlines. At the same time, when at least one flight is with a low-cost airline, it makes a lot of sense to check the actual prices – it may be cheaper to buy separate flights.

Are return flights cheaper? Very often they are, but, of course, it isn’t the same in all situations and with all airlines. Like with everything, it’s a good idea to compare the prices before making a booking.

So, often yes, but – check the prices to get the best deal. Especially, if you have a very flexible schedule and can fly from anywhere at any time, and you are traveling with a carry-on bag only.

2.1 Why Are Return Flights Cheaper Than One-Way Flights?

Return flights are cheaper because it’s easier for airlines. It just makes sense business-wise. It is easier to sell two tickets to one person and fill seats on two planes, all with one purchase. And it’s working.

Because we – travelers, like to see cheap flights.

200 dollars for a one-way flight and 250 for a return – easy choice, right?

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Return tickets are popular with travelers for various reasons.

The primary reason is convenience. You don’t have to worry about booking another flight back home because you already have a ticket. It saves time, money, and the hassle of searching for another flight that might be expensive, especially when you’re traveling during peak seasons.

The second reason is cost-effectiveness. Usually, when you buy a return ticket, it’s cheaper than buying two one-way tickets. Airlines offer discounts and promotions for return tickets to encourage travelers to opt for them. 200 dollars for a one-way flight and 250 for a return, this kind of promotions.

Last but not least, they are better for visa purposes. With more and more countries asking for a proof of onward travel, it’s also the only 100% safe option when traveling internationally.

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4. How to Book a Return Ticket?

Booking a return ticket is easy and straightforward.

You can either book directly on the airline’s website or use a flight booking website. Alternatively, you can also book with a travel agency. When booking directly on an airline’s website or a flight booking website, select “round-trip” instead of “one-way.” You’ll be required to enter your departure date, return date, and the number of passengers.

4.1 It Can Be a Connecting Flight Consisting of Several Flights, or Only Two Flights


How to Book?

Airline website (directly).

This is the easiest way to book a connecting flight. It’s also the safest way to book a connection. You make a single booking, have a single reservation code and the booking includes several flights. Sometimes they are all with one airline, other times – two or more. Anyway, in this case, you can be 100% sure that you have a proper connecting flight.

Other Option

Flight booking websites.

Few examples: skyscanner.net, expedia.com, momondo.com.

Pay attention to the details. Because some of these sites are only search engines, and sellers are other websites. Apart from that, they often sell both airline-protected connecting flights and self-transfer flights. If it’s a self-transfer, know that it comes with its own risks, and there are things you should take into account. Self-transfer is not the same thing as airline-protected transfer. 

For extra protection, buy also a travel insurance covering flight disruptions, or book with sites like kiwi.com, who offer extra protection.

With kiwi.com you are more protected than normally.


Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights?

4.2 It Can Also Be Something More Complicated

These can also be multi-city flights.

Or, open jaw flights.

Read more:

Woman looking at a flying plane

5. Return Tickets: FAQ

5.1 What Happens If I Miss My Return Flight?

If you miss your return flight, most airlines will consider your ticket void, and you’ll have to buy a new ticket to travel back home.

Depending on the airline and your ticket, you may also be allowed to change the date or time of your flight, and fly on a later flight. Mostly, though, you’ll have to pay a fee for that. The best you can do is go to the airline desk and explain your situation. You won’t be able to get flight compensation for this.

You won’t have a right to care from the airline when that happens. As long as it’s your, not airline’s fault.

5.2 What is the Maximum “Validity Period for a Return Ticket”?

In other words – can you travel somewhere now and return 3, 6, 12 months later? It depends from the airline policies and how long in advance they are selling flights from the destination you are planning to visit.

Most airlines allow passengers to book flights as far as 12 months ahead of the travel date. That means, if you are booking a flight that departs after 6 months, often you’ll be able to choose a return date some 12 months from now (giving you 6 months in the destination).

This applies to both domestic and international flights.

5.3 Do I Need a Return Ticket for International Travel?

It’s a good idea to have a return ticket for international travel.

More and more countries are asking for a return or onward ticket, anything proving that you are going to leave the country at some point. It’s important to check the entry requirements of your destination country before you travel.

5.4 Can I Change the Return Date on My Ticket?

Most airlines allow changes to the return date, but it may involve a change fee and potential fare difference. The specifics depend on the fare conditions of your ticket. Contact your airline to learn more of the options that you have.

Do a little home-work for the best outcome:

  • Be prepared to pay for that.
  • Check the flight options with the same airline before (choose a few options that fit your new travel plans better).
  • Check the visa conditions. Can you stay longer in the country that you are right now/are planning to be? If it means staying longer than initially allowed, check the visa extension rules and procedure.

5.5 Is It Possible to Get a Refund on My Return Ticket If I Decide Not to Travel?

Whether or not you can get a refund on your return ticket if you decide not to travel depends on the terms and conditions of the ticket you purchased.

Generally, if your ticket is non-refundable, you will not be able to get a refund unless certain conditions apply. For instance, if the airline cancels the flight, you are entitled to a refund regardless of the reason. If the airline changes the flight schedule significantly, you might also be able to request a refund.

If you have a refundable ticket, you should be able to get a refund if you decide not to use it. However, this often comes with higher costs upfront.

Some airlines offer a 24-hour grace period after booking where you can cancel for a full refund. This typically applies as long as you’ve booked this flight at least 2 days prior to departure. And mostly only if you have booked directly from the airline. For some it’s the main reason to book directly.

Read more: UK/EU Flight Compensation Guide

What is your experience with return tickets? Have you ever compared price of return tickets to two or more one-way tickets?

About the author:

Co-founder and Chief Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Kaspars is a digital nomad and travel blogger who’s been traveling the world extensively since 2013. Since 2017, Kaspars has been writing about the less-known aspects of air travel, things like air passenger rights laws and regulations. He’s really good at simplifying complex concepts and making them easily understandable. Kaspars favorite airlines are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

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