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How to Book a One-Way Flight Back Home Last Minute

January 20, 2020
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The Thought Process Behind Booking A One-Way Return Flight At The Very Last Minute

When I plan a trip to Europe, I don’t always book everything ahead of time.  I do organize everything and make sure I know as many facts as I can so that I have the ability to be as spontaneous as possible while I am abroad.  Consequently, I usually book a one-way ticket to Europe and then given the specific time parameters that I have, book a one-way flight home one or two days before I actually plan on leaving.

For example, this past summer I booked a one-way ticket on Norwegian Airlines from Los Angeles to Copenhagen direct for about $600 a week before I was due to leave.  I had taken off work for a month and needed to be back at the very latest on the 28th of September.  I ended up using 30,000 miles to fly back from Barcelona to Los Angeles on United Airlines on 9/25 and I booked my flight around 3 PM on 9/24.

You can do this too!  Just follow these steps to help you successfully have the freedom to choose exactly how your European vacation plays out.







1) Research all of your options ahead of time.

I didn’t just go to Europe for a month and then the day before decide to look at flights and see what was available.  I diligently checked almost every day to make sure that I still had a couple of options left when I ultimately decided where and when I wanted to leave from.  I knew that I could fly back from Barcelona for 30,000 miles; however, if I went down to Madrid for the weekend, I would have to use 60,000 miles from there.  I could have also flown home on Norwegian for about $500 on the 25th from Barcelona to LA with a stop in London Gatwick.  Therefore, I felt much more secure leaving this booking until the last minute because I had multiple options if either the flight sold out or the price went up by too much.








2) Utilize the cheap European airlines that fly from your home city.

Unfortunately, major airlines don’t cut the price in half if you are only traveling one way.  In fact, the price can be almost double what a roundtrip ticket might be.  There is a solution…low cost European airlines.  Norwegian Airlines flies from Los Angeles, New York, or Oakland (near San Francisco).  If you live outside of these cities, see if you can book a cheap domestic flight from one of these major U.S. cities.  You should plan on spending an average of about $500-600 depending on the time of year for a flight back.







3) Check all the mileage programs that you belong to for possible deals on miles from nearby cities.  

Be sure to check for saver miles not only in the city you plan on flying from but also nearby surrounding cities.  If I had decided to go to Madrid for the rest of that weekend, I still could have flown back from Barcelona for 30,000 miles as opposed to the 60,000 from Madrid.  I could have taken the train for about $100 dollars or a bus for around $30 and saved those extra 30,000 miles.  This would also work great in London where there are four airports in the London area as well as Italy which has an excellent train system.  I also have awards miles on both American and United, so I made sure to continuously check both and see which one I could get a better deal on.


Have you been successful booking last minute flights? What is your tried and true method?


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