If you’ve ever tried to book a one-way cross-continental flight, whether for a move abroad or an open-ended trip, you’ve likely felt the pain of absurdly overpriced one-way fares - often priced at the same (or higher!) price than a return flight to the same destination.
Conversely, short-haul flights, both in Europe and most other parts of the world, are relatively inexpensive and priced on a one-way rather than return flight basis, making inter-regional travel quite flexible and, most importantly, affordable. A savvy traveller can book up to 10 flights in and around Southeast Asia for the same price as a one-way flight to get there from London!
We wrote this guide to show you the cheapest ways to fly one-way from Europe to every continent and avoid the exorbitant one-way fares charged by most major carriers.
By following the guiding principles below you’ll be able to save yourself booking overpriced one-way tickets with major carriers and find year-round cheaper routes with long-haul budget airlines such as Norwegian, TAP and Level. By pricing each leg according to availability, they help savvy travellers on a budget score cheap flights to their chosen destination, even when booking one flight at a time!
Note: The example prices in this article were found during the time of writing and may change in the future. That said, the routes we highlighted tend to show similar fares throughout the majority of the year.
Also note: For the purpose of this exercise we’ve used fares from Google Flights, however, do be sure to run your chosen itinerary through both Skyscanner and Momondo to see if it’s cheaper to book through an online travel agent (OTA) rather than directly with the airline. Google Chrome users can even save some time by using our handy flight fare comparison Chrome extension to navigate between the comparison engines!
Cheapest one-way flights to South America
South America has always been an expensive continent to get to from Europe, especially with the major carriers. Thankfully, the launch of new routes by Norwegian and Iberia’s new budget long-haul carrier, LEVEL, in recent years has seen some cheap(er) options open up. Likewise, Portuguese carrier TAP serves much of Brazil for less than the likes of British Airways, whilst Thomas Cook partner with American carrier Jet Blue for more affordable routes into Bogota.
Note: All four airlines listed below do charge extra for add-ons such as checked bags, but you’ll still come away having saved money versus flying with the major carriers.
Cheapest one-way routes from Continental Europe to South America: Gothenburg to Rio de Janeiro, £134 (Norwegian, travelling in May 2020)
We also found some similarly priced alternatives, such as flying instead from Stockholm to Rio, again with Norwegian, and with TAP from Madrid to Recife, Brazil. Simply edit your destination in Google Flights and then Skyscanner or Momondo to find the best deals.
Cheapest one-way routes from the United Kingdom to South America: London Gatwick to Rio de Janeiro, £170 (Norwegian, travelling in May 2020)
Alternative options we found from the UK include London to Buenos Aires with Norwegian and London to Bogota, Columbia with Thomas Cook. Again, simply edit your destination in Google Flights and then Skyscanner or Momondo to find a range of the best fares.
Cheapest one-way flights to the Carribean
The Caribbean is always a popular route for charter/package holidays, meaning that airlines often have unsold seats on their routes. Airlines such as Thomas Cook & TUI price each leg according to availability and this often leads to unbelievably low one-way fares to Caribbean beach paradises that represent fantastic value if you can make the dates work for you.
Cancun, with its all-year-round sunshine, is always a popular destination, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. TUI often has last-minute one-way deals to Cancun, with excellent transport links to the rest of Mexico and Central America that can open up your one-way flight to a whole host of exciting locations.
TUI, in particular, regularly display amazing short-notice fares on their website. We’ve seen some examples as low as £100 if you are prepared to hold off for a last, last-minute deal.
Cheapest one-way routes from Continental Europe to the Caribbean: Brussels to Montego Bay, £129 (TUI, travelling in April 2020)
We found some similarly cheap one-way flights to and from other destinations, such as Berlin to Havana, Cuba on Eurowings, Brussels to Punta Cana, and the Dominican Republic on Thomas Cook.
Cheapest one-way route from the United Kingdom to the Caribbean: Manchester to Cayo Coco, Cuba, £190 (Thomas Cook, travelling in April 2020)
We also found some pretty sweet deals on one-way flights from Manchester to Holguin, Cuba and London to Belize City, Belize, both with Thomas Cook.
Cheapest one-way flights to the Middle East/South Asia
Another balmy destination to consider and which is reasonably close-by is the Middle East/South Asia, which is very well served by a number of budget airlines. Carriers such as Norwegian, Pegasus and Wizz Air all cover destinations in the region. If you are looking for something a little further afield, Thomas Cook/Condor regularly offer bargain one-way fares to tropical paradises such as Goa and the Maldives.
Cheapest one-way routes from Continental Europe to the Middle East/South Asia: Oslo to Dubai, £89 (Norwegian, travelling in October 2019)
We also found super cheap one-way flights from Frankfurt to Male, the Maldives on Condor and Brussels to Dubai with Wizz. Have a play around with the origin and destination elements on Google Flights and see what you can find!
Cheapest one-way route from the United Kingdom to the Middle East: Manchester to Goa, £170 (Thomas Cook, travelling February 2020)
If you don’t mind re-checking your bags for the connecting flight and a bit of a wait, this little beauty we found on Skyscanner from London to Amman, Jordan serves as an incredibly cheap entry point into the Middle East. Note that we used Skyscanner for this example.
Check out prices too for Manchester to Amman, Jordan with Wizz + Ryanair and London to Doha, Qatar with Pegasus, travelling in December. EasyJet’s new direct route from London to Aqaba, Jordan is another great option.
Cheapest one-way flights to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a well-trodden path for backpackers and holidaymakers alike. Many budget airlines such as Scoot and Eurowings fly to exciting destinations like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, offering up cheap getaways and very cheap one-way options. Asia is also very well served by regional budget airlines, meaning you can pair these with nearby one-way options like Cambodia and Vietnam for an insanely low price (be sure to update the departure dates on the above links).
Note: One-way prices from the United Kingdom do tend to cost more (and can involve 2+ stops) so it may be worth matching this up with a budget flight to continental Europe and travelling from there using one of the routes below.
Cheapest one-way route from Continental Europe to Southeast Asia: Berlin to Bangkok, £171 (Eurowings, travelling in June 2020)
We also found deals from Berlin to Singapore on Scoot and Stockholm to Bangkok with Norwegian.
Cheapest one-way flights to East Asia:
With virtually no budget-friendly one-way options from Europe, one-way flights to East Asia are particularly difficult to come by and you have to get a tad creative.
We recommend using the tip above to score a cheap one-way flight to one of the Southeast Asian hubs. Then, use one of the many regional carriers to take you further East, where you can get around by high-speed trains within China, Korea or Japan. The likes of Scoot and Air Asia (rated world’s best budget airline) have a tonne of cheap one-way routes from the region. When combined with a budget flight from Europe to somewhere like Kuala Lumpur, you can cleverly make it to the Far East for under £250 in total. Below we’ve listed some of the best one-way routes from Southeast Asia to the Far East:
One-way examples from Southeast Asia to the Far East.
Cheapest one-way flights to Australia
Australia is expensive to fly to no matter which way you look at it, with reduced fares few and far between. However, we do occasionally spot a cheap one-way trip that would suit those with no set return date. This often involves Singapore-based budget airline Scoot who offer a stopover in Singapore to help break up the journey. Then, simply travel Down Under with either Scoot or budget Aussie airline Jetstar.
Options from the United Kingdom are typically with full-service carriers and are therefore considerably more expensive, so again it may be worth hopping across to Berlin via a carrier such as Ryanair and going from there as below.
Cheapest one-way flights to US & Canada
The US is one of the most popular international holiday destinations in the world. Florida, in particular, remains a firm favourite with holidaymakers, with hundreds of chartered flights flying there all year round. This often leads to airlines having unclaimed seats that are often sold off extremely cheap at the last minute, both one-way and return. Off-season dates (typically over the winter) can also offer low-cost one-way flights.
Budget airline Norwegian often offer rock-bottom one-way fares to airports just outside major hubs like Boston and San Francisco as well as to lesser-known destinations such as Denver and Austin. Icelandic Air offers multiple options across the US that normally require a stopover in Reykjavik. Routes out of Scandinavia also pop up with some insanely low fares from time to time.
Even major airlines offer up cheap options on occasion. British Airways-affiliated LEVEL, a fairly new no-frills budget airline, has several transatlantic departures each day from Barcelona. Aer Lingus’s Dublin to NYC route is always worth checking out as well.
Cheapest one-way route from the United Kingdom to the USA: London to Miami, £150 (Norwegian, travelling in October 2019)
Norwegian also offers a direct flight from London to San Francisco for a similar price, whilst Thomas Cook runs a Manchester to New York service, again for well under £200 one-way at certain times of the year.
Cheapest one-way route from Continental Europe to the USA: Barcelona to New York, £107 (Norwegian, travelling in January 2020)
Norwegian also flies from Copenhagen to New York for around the same price whilst TUI offers a direct service from Brussels to Miami.
Cheapest one-way flights to Central America
Central America does initially appear to be a tougher nut to crack when it comes to cheap one-way fares, but search a little deeper and you’ll uncover a couple of gems.
In the past, our flight hackers have spotted cheap one-way tickets on Condor Airlines from Frankfurt to San Jose and fares from Munich to Bogota on Avianca. It’s also not unknown for Iberia or KLM to offer up routes to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, all for under £250. However, many of these fares were seen during rare sale periods which sadly don’t come around all that often.
The tried and tested the cheapest way to reach Central America is with a stop off in another region on the way. Cancun is a great option if you don’t mind taking a bus onwards to your final destination, but for those keen to fly there are some options out there. We’ve listed the cheapest variant via the US below, which is from low-cost carrier Spirit, but others such as WestJet and American Airlines fly these popular routes too.
Cheapest one-way route from the United Kingdom to Central America: London to Miami, £150 (Norwegian) + Miami to San Jose, £79 (American Airlines, travelling in September 2019, total fare £229)
We found similar prices when flying from London to New York with Norwegian and then onto Belize with Spirit. Spirit also run one-way flights from London to Orlando and then onwards to San Jose.
Cheapest one-way route from Continental Europe to Central America: Barcelona to New York, £125 (Norwegian) + New York to Panama City, £72 (Spirit, travelling in September 2019, total fare £197)
Alternatives include Copenhagen to New York and then onto Belize via TUI and Spirit, or Brussels to Miami and then onwards to San Jose.
Cheapest one-way flights to Africa
There are plenty of great one-way options to all over Africa with the northern part of the continent covered from pretty much everywhere by European budget airlines. If you are looking to go further south, there are plenty of options which include South Africa with British Airways and Thomas Cook, whilst Kenya and Rwanda are regularly covered by Turkish Airlines and Kenya Airways via sale periods. If you are looking for some beach time, we do see some fantastic cheap last-minute options in the Seychelles and Zanzibar from time to time, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these. Also worth noting is Air Belgium, who will be offering a new route in 2020 to Kinshasa.
With Africa being the vast continent that it is, you may struggle to get a cheap one-way flight to the exact or even nearby country you are after, but domestic airlines such as Ethiopian Air, Arik Air and RwandAir (plus many more) might be able to connect you to your chosen destination from our examples below.
Cheapest one-way route from the United Kingdom to Africa: Manchester to Banjul, £131 (Thomas Cook, travelling in January 2020)
TAP offer similarly priced flights out of London to either Accra or Luanda.
Cheapest one-way route from Continental Europe to Africa: Brussels to Zanzibar, £141 (TUI, travelling in December 2019)
TAP runs a reasonably priced one-way option from Brussels to Abidjan or from Frankfurt to Accra.
We hope that we’ve given you some serious inspiration on how to get to some pretty far-flung places on a budget. Have a play around with the dates and destinations listed above using Google Flights, Skyscanner or Momondo and, as ever, do let us know if you end up booking a particularly striking deal!
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If you still have more questions, feel free to drop me a message on [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.