How to book airfare with FF miles one way and not get killed on flight cost the other way?

I'm looking to book flights for a trip in 2023 (most likely on United). Right now, the round trip airfare for cash is about $4500 (biz). I have enough points to book one way with FF miles. However, if I book two one-way tickets, the cash price for the one-way ticket jumps to about $5K. I see no way to book a ticket online with FF miles one way and cash the other way. Can they do that if I call the 800 number? Any other options?


  • edited November 14

    Hi BKMD. Often I find buying a one way ticket TO the USA using cash is much more expensive than buying a one way ticket with cash from the USA. If I only have miles for a one way, I'll invariably use them for the return portion, and pay cash going. Have you tried to price out the one way from the USA? Of course, this does not work all the time.

    Also, I'll add that, other than cost perhaps, there is no advantage on having the entire trip on one PNR. Of course, you want the entire outbound journey on one PNR, same for the entire inbound journey. Having outbound on a PNR, and inbound on another PNR can protect you if you somehow miss your initial outbound flight due to something you did (not the airline's fault), as that can start a chain of canceling all of the flights on that PNR for you. Of course, it's not possible to have a booked RT on separate PNRs, but if I can book the outbound and inbound separately, I'll do that every time.

  • ChrisW12 - Thanks for the reply. In this case, that's exactly how I was planning to book. Currently, it's about 150K points to go to Europe on this trip and 100K points for the return to the US.

  • Often, we don't have enough miles for the complete itinerary, so what I have done with Delta, is book two PNRs and have them linked- First PNR booked with miles is a r/t from our local feeder to a gateway (usually ATL or JFK) and home again. Sometimes, the first PNR will be an open jaw booking- e.g. our local feeder to JFK then return ATL to local feeder.

    The second PNR will be a r/t from the gateway to tour start and back to gateway. If the tour starts and ends in different locations which is often the case, it will be an open jaw booking. Upon check-in I make sure our bags are booked through from one PNR to the other.

    For J&E we actually used different carriers. We used Delta miles for the flights from our local feeder to the gateways and back on Delta. We flew Turkish (not a Skyteam member) for the long haul overseas legs. We even had checked bags which can be dangerous, but I left enough time between connections to retrieve our bags and recheck them with the next airline. It worked like a charm, but is not for everyone or the faint of heart. It actually worked much better than when we flew on a single Delta PNR to Greece, but that is a whole different story! :/

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