I'm planning to fly (one-way) from NY to SF. I'm based in Europe and I wonder, will the price (regardless of currency issues) be significantly different if I book it from here, or only when I get to the US? Obviously, I believe its going to be a return flight where I accidentally miss the return part.

  • Hi, welcome to TSE. What do you mean by 'accidentally'? Do you mean that since round trips are sometimes cheaper (strangely) than one-way tickets, you'll buy a round trip and then not show on the return flight? So "accidentally" in quotes? Also, what do you mean by "from here"? I'm assuming you're planning to book online anyway? Do you mean that companies may use your IP address to determine where you are and adjust your price based on that? What exactly do you mean?
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 10:18
  • That's what I'm trying to figure out... In my post, I tried to just anticipate the suggestion to book a return flight, even if I only require one-way, because this i know. To make it concrete, the price I see for 05. Nov., UA1455 25. Nov., UA577 in total is 437 USD. Could somebody who is physically located in the US check this arrangement and post what price he/she sees?
    – TMOTTM
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 10:32
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    BTW, you've done two things that have increased the price by more than $100, outbound on a Saturday and 'return' on the day after Thanksgiving here in the US. And, as Many carriers offer one-way fares that are precisely half of the round trip.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 13:56
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    Let me echo that this route is flown by a number of carriers (at least JetBlue, Virgin America) that price round-trip as the sum of the one-ways, so there is no possible advantage to abandoning a return ticket. For competitive reasons, other carriers that may offer a round-trip discount on other routes do not on this one. Also, be sure to use all New York airports (including Newark) and as many Bay Area airports (SFO, OAK, SJC) as feasible; this can affect your best fare significantly. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


It has been proven that websites can do pricing on all kinds of elements (your search history, the browser you're using, your location, your laptop brand, ...) Check this article: lifehacker: how websites vary prices

I don't know if any of the US airlines use this practice. I'm a Platinum FF with AA.com and I always compare the prices they offer on their US site with the prices on their European sites. Sometimes the US site has cheaper prices but more recently is has always been the EU site that showed me the best price. Know however that (in case of AA) the US site requires a US Credit Card to pay for the fare.

I don't know how long upfront you will arrive in the US but I wouldn't push your luck and wait till the last minute to buy your ticket. Maybe your dates are flexible and NY-SF is probably a pretty popular route with a lot of competition (just guessing) but you may end up paying a lot more.

The best time to buy your tickets is not the very last minute but rather on average 8 weeks to 1 month upfront. (Check this article: Best time is 54 days out) I would rather look at this time window than your location.

When travelling domestically I always use the 8-4 weeks time window. For international travel 6-4 months. In my experience we always ended up paying a fair price. To decide what a fair price is I compare with historical and competitors prices.

A LITTLE EXTRA: If you want you can use a browser plugin like Hola. This would allow you to use a US IP address and would simulate that you're based in US. Check the first link in my post for some more tricks.

Also, in this particular case a return might be pricing cheaper than a one-way but it's a myth that this is always the case.

  • 6
    "It has been proven that websites can do pricing on all kinds of elements" ... If you talk to anyone who works in revenue management at a major network airline, no one implements this practice, or even knows feasibly how it could be done given existing technology constraints. The fact is that airline fare distribution has not changed much since the 1980s; the website is a clunky front end to that backend process.
    – Calchas
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 11:42
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    Just a heads up with Hola specifically, it turns your comp. into an exit node and they sell your traffic data
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 15:28

Due to the vast number of sites offering air tickets, mere probability dictates that the answer might be yes for at least a couple of them.

If you want to investigate whether any given site offers different prices to customers depending on which country they are accessing the site from, you can use an Internet proxy to make it seem to the site that you are accessing it from your country of choice. This will allow you to compare various countries.

You can find a variety of free proxy services. I like hide.me. They allow you to choose from a variety of countries (including the US) as your proxy country.

When using a proxy, you can use the site DNS Leak Test to confirm that the proxy is working as it should be.


The answer to the specific question is no. The price will not change significantly if at all based on where you are physically located.

The price you pay can change based on the local site/currency/credit card you use, but that's due to exchange rates.

Note, for US carriers and domestic routes it is highly unusual to find round trip tickets priced less than one way tickets currently. The 'leisure fare' and 'Saturday night stay' are pretty much gone.

  • I assume the last sentence refers to US domestic flights? It's still pretty common in Europe, for one.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 13:39
  • Thanks. Edit that actually makes the answer more specific to the OP's situation.
    – DTRT
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 14:06
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    @Relaxed The network American carriers largely abandoned round ticket pricing for domestic itineraries some time ago. To be fair, unless you travel in business class in Europe, it is a similar story, although Air France is stubbornly refusing to shift any ground for most city pairs.
    – Calchas
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 17:17
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    @Calchas KLM too, no? As it happens due to my location and professional obligations I often end up flying with either Air France or KLM these days so I might have a somewhat warped perspective on this...
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 8:59

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