I am planning to travel to USA from Europe for a 6 month internship. The problem is that the return tickets for dates above 6 months are too expensive. Almost like buying two one-way trips (EU-US & US-EU).

Whereas return tickets for lesser duration are super cheap ($200-300 difference)

Will it likely be more expensive to buy discount one-way tickets to and from the US or a relatively expensive return ticket allowing a long stay?

  • 7
    Which kind of visa do you have? Usually return tickets won't be expected when entering on visas for a purpose where you're going to live in the host country for extended periods. Aug 9, 2016 at 16:12
  • 1
    Are you asking if a return ticket is a requirement for entry? Aug 10, 2016 at 4:21
  • 1
    No, the question was: If a person is planning to stay in US for longer period ~6-12 months. Is it wiser to buy a return ticket or a one way ticket? because return tickets for longer periods seem to be more expensive as compared to return tickets for shorter periods. Aug 10, 2016 at 13:03
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    @user2816078 What do you mean by "wiser"? You mean "Is there any reason to do it?"?
    – Fiksdal
    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:45
  • I would suggest that you try to pinpoint the reason for this price difference: (1) how much is the cost of a return ticket starting from the US at your requested return date? Perhaps you want to return before some holiday, which drives up the prices. (2) Did you check the fare conditions for any cheap two-way flight? Does it mention that the return flight has to commence early for that fare type? If not, the cheap seats in your desired return trip may simply be sold out. (3) Did you use a meta search engine with a variety of airports to rule out that you overlook possibilities?
    – DCTLib
    Aug 12, 2016 at 10:07

2 Answers 2


Recently a few budget carriers have popped up on Transatlantic routes. Such as WOW air or Norwegian Air Shuttle. For this, there is no real difference between a round trip and two one ways. You can book a one way from Germany to the US east coast for as little as $260 US (Radom Example: Wow, FRA-BOS, Feb or Mar).

These are no frills carrier, i.e. you pay extra for seat selection, food and checked luggage so your mileage may vary.

However it's great if you have flexible dates, since you don't need to commit to a return date until you are actually know when you want to go.

  • Wow when did these budget airlines appear?
    – kiradotee
    Aug 12, 2016 at 21:18
  • @kiradotee: I suggest going to wowair.com or norwegian.com and hit the "about us" button for details on the timelines. Norwegian took delivery of Boeing 787 (dreamliner) in 2016 and I flew one yesterday. It was nice !
    – Hilmar
    Aug 13, 2016 at 23:58

The question as asked and as clarified seems to be entirely opinion based - is it better for someone to pay more now for a return ticket in the far future, or is it better to buy it at a later date.

A couple of things to help you make your mind up:

  1. If you pay for the ticket now, you have the ticket and you have an almost guaranteed seat on a plane in the future. You can also change the ticket to travel at an earlier or later date, often for a small fee, but the main consideration here is that you have the ticket - the bulk of the cost has already been paid out.

  2. Following on from the first point, consider your circumstances - will you absolutely 100% guaranteed have the means to pay for a one way ticket back to your country of origin at the end of the stay? If you cannot guarantee this, then buying the more expensive return ticket at the outset is a more prudent course of action. Don't assume you can simply put the one-way ticket cost away in a bank account and never touch it, as you never know what will happen in the months after your arrival - you may need to take that money as an emergency fund for medical treatment or rent.

  3. Will prices change drastically during your stay? Will the cost of flying back to your origin change dramatically, or in such a way to make the cost of the one way ticket back to your origin unduly more expensive than you considered? Unfortunately, there is no way to know this - airlines have had price spikes in the past, and one may indeed correlate with your departure.

  4. Will you need to return urgently at any point during your stay? A return ticket means you won't have to find the cash at short notice for this flight.

What you decide to do is entirely opinion based - a conservative traveler may opt for the more immediately expensive option of buying the open ended return, because then the ticket is paid for and they dont need to worry. A more free-spirited traveler may decide to see how it goes and hope they can buy a cheap flight to return on, with the added benefit of having more spending money in the mean time.

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    I think the OP's asking if it's usually the case that a return ticket to Europe in a fare bucket permitting long stays will be less expensive than two of the cheapest possible one-way tickets. This is not easy to answer, but, in my estimation, it is not opinion-based; a summary of historical price behavior, for example, would suffice to answer the question objectively.
    – Urbana
    Aug 12, 2016 at 10:58
  • @davidvc the question lays out both scenarios (so the submitter understands the pricing differences already - two one ways are cheaper than a long-term return) and then directly asks "should I do X or Y", which is 100% opinion based in this instance.
    – user29788
    Aug 12, 2016 at 11:04
  • I edited the question to remove ambiguity while preserving the original meaning, with no ulterior motive. If you think my edit was inappropriate, you or any other reader can propose another edit reverting it.
    – Urbana
    Aug 12, 2016 at 11:36

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