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Best option to purchase airplane tickets for a long-time trip?

I'm traveling to the Netherlands from Argentina in March/April and I'm staying for a year. I've looked for one way tickets and I found that they cost exactly or even more than round trip tickets. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but in round trip tickets the time gap between the two dates are very close, max two months, which doesn't work for my year-long trip. I've never traveled on plane so the whole system is kind of new for me. Any other way I can purchase them without having to buy two expensive one-way tickets?

11 Answers

top answer by
Michelle from Melbourne

I'm not sure if you have any visa issues but if you don't have the right to live or work in the EU, you need to consider possible issues at immigration when you arrive in Europe. Some border authorities require evidence of your departure date - and in Europe that means leaving the continent, not just any particular country (as there are no border controls between countries in the EU).

If that's not an issue for you, there's some other ways of looking at the round trip purchase.

I'm surprised you're only finding a two month gap for booking the return trip - it must be because your outward leg is part of a time-sensitive deal or offer. I'd be looking on your preferred airline websites (or use an App like Kayak or Skyscanner) to look at the longer term return deal. You buy the cheapest option for the trip out (if that date is set) which would most likely be non-refundable or changeable and then you buy a flexible fare for the trip back which, once you've decided what you're doing you can change or cash in. It may still be cheaper than two one-way tickets.

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answered first by
Spencer from Los Angeles

You may want to work with the dates and cities, especially for the Europe leg. If you're traveling on something like a Friday or Sunday (rather than a Saturday or Wednesday, for example), the tickets are going to be more expensive. You may also consider doing something like flying into another nearby airport or another country that may be cheaper to fly into. And then book a flight from there or a train (since train travel is so great in Europe). I've noticed that some of the cheaper Europe cities to fly into are Paris and Istanbul. 

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answered by
Brett from Long Beach

It looks like the US carriers don't have a maximum stay requirement, so that could be your best option.  Do you know the return date?  If so, then I would definitely look at the US carriers first.  They do have higher change fees than some other airlines, however, so if you have to book and change later, then you might not have as much luck.

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answered by
Alex from London

Hi Julieta,

Sounds like a great adventure!

You are right, long haul one way trips often cost just as much as returns.

You should, contrary to described, be able to buy return tickets with a one year expiration date. You can either leave the return portion open ended OR  guess a date and pay a change fee (normallly less than 150usd) to ammend it if necessary. Do check the t&cs of the ticket to make sure it is flexible, allows changes and what fees apply.

If you aren't comfortable planning the booking on your own, this is a perfect case for a travel agent to help and advise you. Have you considered visiting one? Or, you can directly call/email the airline (imagine it would be klm?) for direct advise?

Good luck!

2 thanks

answered by
James from Calgary

Most airlines have a flexible option for flights where you can buy a round trip ticket and change the return flight without having to pay, however these tickets tend to be more expensive.

You can also try going to a local travel agent, sometimes they can get you the tickets you want cheaper then online. 

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answered by
Harley from Comanche

The earlier you get on there and get the tickets, the cheaper it is. The tickets will cost less.

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answered by
Anthony from Vancouver

I have had the same problem - I like to go for 3 to 6 months.  Most online booking systems have limited time gaps of one to three months for return-tickets, especially if they are discounted or promotional tickets.  This is because the longer out you go, the more risk for the airline that their cost of fulfilling your return trip might go up, like fuel costs.  You should contact the airlines directly or consult a travel agent instead of using Internet booking.

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answered by
Tony from Connecticut

Be careful. If you are required to have a return or onward ticket as a condition of not having to get a Schengen visa, then you won't be in compliance if all you buy is a one-way ticket. You run the risk of being denied boarding at EZE or an immigration officer in Schipol (or your port of entry in Europe) can demand you produce a return ticket or bar you entry.

That said, if you need a round-trip ticket for Mar/Apr time frame, the a 3-month max stay Air Europa (UX) would be the cheapest - USD 1167.43.

You can always throw away the return portion of your ticket if you decide not to return to Argentina within 3 months.

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answered by
Kemkem from Malaga

Try using Skyscanner to look up dates. You should be able to price for more than 2 months, usually it will let you do like up to just under the year. A better bet might be to bite the bullet and pay the fee to book on the phone with an actual airline agent. When we moved to Malta, l booked with the Lufthansa agent our tickept for round trip, because as you have found out, it is cheaper to get round trip and not use the return leg. They waived the $10 fee once l booked the ticket. You might also want to pay for a flexible ticket, that way you can change the date without additional charge.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Skyscanner (attraction)
  2. Lufthansa (attraction)
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answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

KLM has nonstop flights from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam.  I would call KLM (+54 (11) 4317-4799 from Argentina) and explain that you want to buy a roundtrip ticket with a return a year after your arrival.  Their reservations system will not allow them to confirm the return flight now, but you may be able to buy a roundtrip ticket and either hold the return date open, use a date within the time they can book it and then change the return date a couple months after you arrive, or arrange for them to confirm the return when their reservation system allows it.  Iberia and British Airlines also have flights with one stop, so if KLM doesn't work out, try them.  Good luck.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Buenos Aires (city)
  2. Amsterdam (city)
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answered by
Arpit from Jaipur, Rajasthan

They won't allow such things, the thing which you can do, is that you can put your return ticket to an on time limit and then extend it.

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