Question Of The Week: Can I Book A Long Stay Return Ticket Like This?

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Question Of The Week: Can I Book A Long Stay Return Ticket Like This?

Question Of The Week: Can I Book A Long Stay Return Ticket Like This?

This week’s question of the week asks about booking a long stay return ticket. Can it be done? Is there a best method? Why not just book two 1-way tickets? We’ll look at booking a long stay return ticket and the best way to accomplish the goals in the question.

The Question

This week’s question comes from Gary in our Facebook group:

As a “snow bird” is it possible with Delta to fly round trip from DTW, to AUS then return to DTW 6 months later? It would be in other words Mar – Sep in the Detroit Metro, and Sep – Mar in the Austin metro.


Gary’s question involves booking something called a long stay return ticket. Different classify evaluate this with various timelines, but essentially a long stay return ticket is where you’re coming back, but it’s not for a long time. There are a few special considerations with this type of ticket, in addition to the goals Gary wants to accomplish.

Considerations For Booking A Long Stay Return Ticket

There are a few special things to take into account when booking a ticket like this:

  1. How far in advance you can book. With most airlines, you can only book 1 year in advance or maybe 11 months in advance. If I’m booking a ticket today to fly somewhere in November and want to stay for 6 months, it’s not possible. November is 9 months away, adding 6 months takes us past a year from now.
  2. Airline change fees. What I could do is book a round-trip ticket coming back on the furthest date into the future that’s allowed right now. Then, in the future, I could change my return date to be the one I really want. Evaluate what kind of change fees you might pay if you do this. Luckily, lots of airlines have made their policies more flexible and even axed certain fees. A sub-element to this is whether the airline allows you to make changes after you’ve started the trip (taken the outbound flight) or not.
  3. Compare to booking two one-way tickets. It might be easiest to just book my outbound flight now then book the return flight later. There are some positives and negatives. First, I can secure the flight I want right now and avoid change fee issues later. Then, I can book the other flight I want later when it’s available and not have to deal with anything in the middle. However, if I have a companion pass (Gary does) it might not work on separate tickets; maybe I need 1 ticket to get my companion on both flights. Additionally, if something happens and I need to cancel the whole trip, maybe I’m looking at 2 cancellation fees, depending on the airline.

The Answer

The simple answer to Gary’s question is “yes, it’s possible”. The more complex answer is that it’s possible with certain restrictions, plus there are other factors to consider. Since Gary wants to fly with Delta, they don’t book tickets more than 330 days in advance. He’ll have to count from his desired return date to know when he can book, if he wants the whole thing on 1 ticket without having to change.

Question Of The Week: Can I Book A Long Stay Return Ticket Like This?

Final Thoughts

For people who live in different places throughout the year, a long stay return ticket can have some advantages. This is especially true if you want to avoid 2 sets of change/cancellation fees when scrapping a trip or if using a companion pass that’s only valid for 1 reservation. However, it can also have some downsides. You have to wait a while before booking. Flight 1 options might go away while waiting for booking to open up on flight 2. Evaluate your situation to figure out if separate one-way tickets or a long stay return ticket will be better in your situation.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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