Question: Will I pay different taxes on one way vs multi city flights?

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Question: Will I pay different taxes on one way vs multi city flights?

Question: Will I pay different taxes on one way vs multi city flights?

Our question of the week: will I pay different taxes on one way vs multi city flights? In our question of the week, we look at whether booking flights separately or together will be cheaper.

The Question

Our question of the week comes from Jen in our Facebook group.

Jen asked a long question with dates and itineraries, but the gist of her question is this:

If I buy separate 1-way tickets, will I pay less taxes & fees on a one way vs multi city award booking?

Taxes & Fees On One Way Vs Multi City Flights

We’ve covered different aspects of fees and taxes on award flights before. Some countries limit these fees by law. Additionally, some award programs don’t charge extra fees, while others do.

With that as a background, are there advantages to booking a one way vs multi city award ticket? Could you save money on the cash portion of your ticket? Let’s look at a theoretical booking to find out.

Question: Will I pay different taxes on one way vs multi city flights?
Award taxes on United one-way flight

Separate One-Way Bookings

Using United, since they don’t add extra fees, we can see the required taxes on an award flight. First, we’ll try making separate one-way bookings for a flight over the ocean to Europe. We’ll then return from a separate city, so we’ll have a 1-way home from a different city.

On the outbound flight, we will pay only the mandatory $5.60 in government taxes.

Award taxes on United one-way flight returning home from different city

If we return home from a different city, we see the applicable taxes. These fees & taxes total $126.55.

Award taxes & fees for multi-city booking with United

Multi-City Booking

What if we take the above flights and make a multi-city booking? Will we pay more or less in taxes & fees?

The cash portion of the ticket is exactly the same. $5.60 + $126.55 for the separate one-way bookings above adds up to $132.15. That’s the same number we see on the multi-city award.

United award booking for round-trip ticket

Round-Trip Booking

Just for the sake of comparison, here is a round-trip booking. If we make a round-trip booking to Rome (the outbound flight in our example above), it further demonstrates that cash portions of tickets don’t change.

Award pricing for flight returning from Rome to Newark

The cash portion on our outbound flight was $5.60. The return flight shows $64.25. A round-trip ticket has $69.85 as the cash portion. The numbers are the same either way.

Final Thoughts

It would be nice if you could save money with one type of booking over another. Booking  one way vs multi city won’t change the taxes & fees you’ll pay. The only way to affect the cash price on your award ticket is routing. Taking direct flights or avoiding countries with higher fees (looking at you, England!) for your connections can reduce the cash price on your award ticket.

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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  1. Booking two one ways if you originate in the US using British Airways Avios to anywhere in Europe is significantly less than booking a round trip. About $500 less in Business class.


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