An ARC study has found an increasing trend of one-way ticket purchases, a finding ARC called a "major shift in traveler behavior."

"In summary, the long-held belief that it is better to purchase roundtrip tickets whenever possible to get the best fares is simply no longer true," ARC said in a report on the study, "Myth Busting the Cost of One-Way Tickets."

Since 2014, the percentage of one-way tickets has increased each year, from 29% in 2014 to 42% in 2017 (January through May). Meanwhile, the percentage of roundtrip tickets has decreased each year, from 71% in 2014 to 58% in 2017.

Leisure travelers and unmanaged business travelers started the trend and are driving it. A parallel study using data from agencies that primarily serve government and corporate travel did not find the same trend.

ARC's study looked at purchasing windows for one-way tickets versus roundtrip, which historically, have been higher for close-in departures of three days or less. The study found an increase in one-way ticketing in longer purchase windows.

One-way tickets purchased at least three days in advance of departure were in the 50-60% range from 2014 to 2017, experiencing moderate growth. One-way tickets purchased more than 21 days in advance of travel increased from a little over 20% in 2014 to nearly 40% in 2017.

ARC said the premium cost for one-way ticketing vanished in some cases.

ARC combed data over the past three years from ARC-accredited agencies, both leisure and corporate, amounting to more than 350 million tickets. One-way travel was defined "as a single directional journey from one airport to another," whether on nonstop or connecting flights. Roundtrip travel was defined as "out-and-back from one airport to another and returning to the original airport," also including nonstop flights and connections.

ARC said those two types of tickets -- one-way and roundtrip -- account for about 95% of all air travel.

"Historically, prior to 2014, the percentage of one-way tickets versus roundtrip tickets stayed in the upper 20% range. This number did not change in any material way over the years," ARC's report stated. "The travel behavior driving this tendency to prefer roundtrip tickets versus one-way was largely driven from the belief that on a per-leg basis, fares would be generally lower if a roundtrip ticket were purchased."

That was the case, ARC said, until 2014, when the shift toward one-way ticketing began.

To track that trend, "ARC isolated the premium paid for one-way tickets versus the cost of an equivalent trip ticketed with a roundtrip itinerary," ARC's report stated. "The data in the study revealed that in some markets the one-way fare premium shrunk to almost zero since 2014."

In the past, ARC said a one-way premium could be 50% or more compared with a roundtrip ticket.

"Markets vary greatly due to demand and other factors, so blanket statements such as, 'You should always use one-way ticketing,' is not the take-away from this study. However, the number of markets where the one-way premium is disappearing is big," ARC's report stated. "Additionally, this is not a one-time or short-term event. This study clearly shows that one-way ticketing should not be ignored as it may have been in the past."

Comments

From Our Partners

2018 Windstar Logo
Beyond Ordinary Care and What’s New with Windstar
Register Now
Wellness horizontal
Guide to Wellness
Read More
2020 United Webinar
United Airlines is opening up Florida in a big way this winter!
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI