In a round trip, there are two flights. The second one is the return flight. What's the first one called?

Is it the departure flight? That seems strange, because every flight has a departure and an arrival, doesn't it?

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    Maybe this EL&U link is helpful. Sep 19, 2017 at 18:32
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    In spanish there is 'ida' and 'vuelta' but in English I thought it was just "flight" and "return flight". Had no idea there was an adjective for the first half of the trip! Sep 20, 2017 at 13:50
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    "there flight"? After all how else could you return from there with a return flight. This might be something for English.stackexchange. You could also just say "first flight of a round trip". Sep 21, 2017 at 12:39

4 Answers 4


I would call it the "outbound" flight.

By the way I'm not sure "return flight" is unambiguous. In some contexts (such as when booking tickets) it could easily be understood as the combination of an outbound and inbound flight.

(Of course, "outbound" and "inbound" are also slightly ambiguous -- they could refer to legs going from or to an airline hub, but that's more from the perspective of operations planning and timetabling than from the traveler's perspective).

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    Correct. traveling away from a particular place, especially on the first leg of a round trip. "an outbound flight". Oxford Dictionaries.
    – NVZ
    Sep 19, 2017 at 18:26
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    Return is ambiguous between US and UK English. In the US, a Return flight is just the trip back to your origin. Including both ways, it's a Round Trip.
    – DTRT
    Sep 19, 2017 at 21:14
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    @Johns-305 Indeed - on the railways in the UK, you can buy "return" tickets, which in turn have "out" and "return" portions. It's mildly confusing.
    – Muzer
    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:51

The airline industry uses the term 'Originating Flight' for the first flight in an itinerary.

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    While technically correct, this Answer does not match the original question as the Originating Flight is not the true opposite of a return flight. Originating Flight is just the first flight on a routing and, depending on the implementation, can apply to both directions. For example, you have to check-in with the operating carrier of the originating flight on your return trip. Yikes!
    – DTRT
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:36
  • You are confusing the parts of a flight as separate entities when in fact they are referred to as 'legs' and are a part of the whole. 'Originating flight' would then be the correct answer to the question.
    – user68196
    Sep 20, 2017 at 18:49
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    Not really, because the return trip also has an Originating Flight. It's the one you check in for. So any given Itinerary can have multiple Originating Flights for check-in, baggage and benefit purposes. But again, this can depend on the implementation. From the passenger perspective, the opposite of the return flight is the outbound flight.
    – DTRT
    Sep 20, 2017 at 20:01

This could be British but the first thing that came to my mind was "outgoing flight".

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    Thanks, now I have a fun image in my head: an airplane extending its hand and warmly introducing itself. Sep 20, 2017 at 18:33
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    And of course the opposite of an outgoing flight is an introverted flight, where the plane just hugs it's wings around itself and refuses to talk to anyone. As a BE speaker I'd tend to use 'outbound' flight rather than 'outgoing' flight.
    – matt
    Sep 21, 2017 at 13:05

Departing flight and returning flight are terms that make sense to me. I note that this is similar to user68196's answer of "originating flight" - the idea is that a return flight is able to refer to a combination of two flights to take you away, and then return you to your original location - so different terms need to be used.

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    No, a "departing flight" is a flight that's currently departing (i.e., leaving an airport). For some passengers, that will be an outbound flight, for some it will be a returning flight and, for some, it might be a one-way trip. Sep 20, 2017 at 15:06
  • @DavidRicherby, I respectfully disagree. It does depend on the context, but when you are discussing the overall plan of flights then it is clear that a departing flight is the one that departs the source location. The alternative is that all flights eventually either depart or don't depart, and it may as well be meaningless to look at an itinerary and say "all of the flights are departing flights and all of the flights are returning flights".
    – fabspro
    Sep 21, 2017 at 22:58
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    @fabspro without further context to clarify, I'm pretty sure I'd assume the departing flight was the one leaving my destination at the end of the trip.
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2017 at 14:11
  • @ChrisH Fair enough, I guess it just highlights that it's important to make the context clear before discussing a pair of flights in a single trip.
    – fabspro
    Sep 22, 2017 at 22:16

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