“Each-Way” Airfare Sale Gripe

Y ou might perceive this gripe as minor, but in comparing airfare sales between Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines — both of which end today where the airfares are as low as $73.00 each way — you would believe that both airfare sales are similar if not identical; but there is one major difference highlighted below in dark red:

Southwest Airlines Terms and Conditions

  • 14-day advance purchase required.
  • Purchase from August 5 through August 14, 2014, 11:59 p.m. for the respective time zone of the originating city.
  • Travel August 25 through December 17, 2014. Travel to/from San Juan, Puerto Rico valid August 25 through December 11, 2014. Travel October 13 through December 17, 2014 for DAL – BWI, DEN, LAS, MCO, MDW, DCA, and LAX. Travel November 2 through December 17, 2014 for DAL – ATL, BNA, FLL, LGA, PHX, SAN, SNA, and TPA.
  • Travel valid every day except Fridays and Sundays. Travel to Florida or Nevada is valid Sunday through Wednesday only. Additionally, travel from Florida or Nevada is valid Tuesday through Friday only. Travel between Nevada and Florida is valid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.
  • Blackout Dates Apply: November 25 – 26 and November 29 – December 1, 2014.
  • Some flights operated by AirTran® Airways.
  • Fares valid on nonstop service only.
  • Displayed prices include all U.S. and international government taxes and fees.
    Seats are limited. Fares may vary by destination, flight, and day of week and won’t be available on some flights that operate during very busy travel times and holiday periods.
  • Fares are available for one-way travel.
  • Fares may be combined with other Southwest Airlines® combinable fares. If combining with other fares, the most restrictive fare’s rules apply.
  • Sale fares may be available on other days of week, but not guaranteed.
  • Fares are nonrefundable but may be applied toward future travel on Southwest Airlines, so long as you cancel your reservations at least ten minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight. Failure to cancel prior to departure will result in forfeiture of remaining funds on the reservation.
  • Any change in itinerary may result in an increase in fare. Standby travel requires an upgrade to the Anytime Fare.
  • Fares are subject to change until ticketed.
  • Offer applies to published, scheduled service only.


Delta Air Lines Terms and Conditions

  • Restrictions | Fares shown available at delta.com. Tickets cost $25 more if purchased from Delta over the phone, $35 more at a Delta ticket counter or ticket office, and these amounts are nonrefundable. Tickets are non-transferable. Seats are limited.
  • Tickets | Tickets must be purchased at least 14 days prior to departure, but no later than August 14, 2014.
  • Travel Period | Travel may occur August 25, 2014 through December 17, 2014.
  • Blackout Dates | November 21, 22, 25, 26, and November 29 through December 2, 2014.
  • Fare Validity | With the exception of Florida and Nevada, fares shown are valid for travel every day except Fridays and Sundays. Fares are valid in the Economy (Coach) cabin on nonstop Delta/Delta Connection carrier flights only.
  • Travel to Florida or Nevada: valid only Sunday through Wednesday.
  • Travel from Florida or Nevada: valid only Tuesday through Friday.
  • Travel between Florida and Nevada is valid Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Minimum Stay | Saturday night
  • Maximum Stay | 30 days or through December 17, 2014, whichever is earliest.
  • Cancellations / Refunds / Changes | Tickets are nonrefundable except in accordance with Delta’s cancellation policy. Fees may apply for downgrades/reissues and itinerary changes. Contact a Delta agent or see Ticket Changes for details.
  • SkyMiles Partner Offers | SkyMiles partner offers subject to the terms and conditions of each individual offer. SkyMiles Partners subject to change. All SkyMiles program rules apply. To review the rules, see Membership Guide & Program Rules.
  • Baggage Charges | For travel within the United States, $25 USD fee for 1 checked bag and $35 USD fee for second checked bag. Allowances subject to size/weight limits. Contact a Delta agent or see Excess Baggage for details.
  • Miscellaneous | Fares, fees, rules, and offers are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply.©2014 Delta Air Lines, Inc.


Although it is not listed in the actual terms and conditions but is displayed rather prominently at least twice on its official Internet web site, Delta Air Lines lists the airfares as “Each-way fares based on required round-trip purchase”.

Let us look at this again:

  • Southwest Airlines: Fares are available for one-way travel.
  • Delta Air Lines: Each-way fares based on required round-trip purchase


What Delta Air Lines does for each fare sale is not necessarily deceptive or a violation of the law in any way, in my opinion, as the airfare rules are very clear — but if the airfares listed are based on a required round-trip ticket, then shouldn’t the total airfare for the round-trip be displayed?

Yes, I know — it only takes a few seconds to double the airfare to get the actual total price of the round-trip ticket. It is a minor gripe. I admit it. There are bigger and more important problems in this world which need to be resolved…

…and I suppose that how the airfares are displayed by Delta Air Lines allows for an easy comparison to the airfares displayed by Southwest Airlines. However, Southwest Airlines allows for one-way travel, which is why it displays the airfare each way between origination and destination; whereas Delta Air Lines does not.

I have always been an advocate of showing the total price of anything to the consumer whenever possible to avoid surprises; and for as long as there is a requirement to purchase a round-trip ticket to take advantage of an airfare sale, I believe that Delta Air Lines should have the total price of the round-trip airfare displayed rather than “each-way fares based on required round-trip purchase.”

Do you agree or disagree?

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on ““Each-Way” Airfare Sale Gripe”

  1. Atif says:

    I COMPLETELY agree… It is logically incorrect to list half a round trip airfare as the cost “each way” when a round trip purchase is required. The cost to Delta is most certainly NOT exactly the same in each direction, so dividing it 50/50 is arbitrary.

    By their faulty logic they could easily advertise an airfare like “JFK to LAX for ONLY $10*” but then have in small print ” (* requires purchase of return for $990)”

    IF they are going to pull this kind of nonsense they should have to do what supermarkets do when they sales “Get 3 bags of chip for only $3 or $1.29 each”

    So it would be MUCH more honest to say “JFK to LAX for $200 each way round trip or $800 one way”

  2. Kris says:

    Did you test pricing out any of the fares? Ads say that all the time and then one way is exactly half of the round trip price, despite the price being “half of a required r/t.”
    nvm, just answered it for myself, you didn’t. 70% of days in September have $73 Delta fares ATL-JAX one way only, although Southwest has the same price 85% of the month. All five of the sales they have a common price for that I checked, at least 60% of the days in September Delta has the same one way only fare as Southwest.

  3. Agree with this.

    A similar (albeit perhaps more forgivable) trick is often played by the European low cost carriers, who will publish incredible fares such as “London to Malaga from €9.99”.

    While there will then be plenty of London to Malaga fares at €9.99, you will usually find that the return leg is substantially more. While they’re not doing anything wrong, I concede, it’s a slightly cynical marketing ploy. Unless you’re emigrating to Malaga, you’ll need to factor in the (substantially higher) return cost when gleefully seizing upon the €9.99 one way fare.

    That’s why whenever I flag “great value” fares with low cost carriers, I always try and give indicative return prices. In Europe, it’s very easy to get an incredibly low one way fare – getting the round trip at a bargain basement price is the tricky bit.

  4. DaninMCI says:

    I agree. Another reason not to trust airlines to do the right thing on advertising prices. Make sure to write your US Senator about HR 4156. They need to vote against this if it reaches the Senate.

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