Scott Keyes, of Scott's Cheap Flights, says this is the best way to grab a domestic flight deal.
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Stop what you're doing and count to 10. That's how long Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, says it takes to find a better flight deal.

In a new blog post, Keyes explains why it's a good idea to take a few moments to search for two one-way flights rather than one round-trip ticket to help save a little cash.

"Let's say you live in Seattle and you need to get to Chicago June 21-28 for your sister's wedding," Keyes writes in the post. "You search on Google Flights and find that the cheapest round trip is $424 nonstop. Not a great fare, but you have little flexibility and it's a peak summer trip."

During his search for hypothetical plane tickets, Keyes found Delta to have the cheapest round-trip flight. But, searching for two one-way flights, he found a $206 United outbound and a $185 Delta return, for a round-trip price of $391.

"Sometimes the round-trip price isn't the best available price and it's worth the little bit of extra time to find the best deal," Scott's Cheap Flights product operations specialist Lousson Smith told Travel + Leisure. "Booking two one-way tickets is a great opportunity to combine two different routes, sometimes on different airlines, and save some cash. As an added bonus, sometimes if you're dealing with a flight credit, a situation where you don't have enough miles, or some other sort of restrictive payment form you can get a little more flexibility booking two one-ways versus the round trip."

Young woman traveler looking at flight information
Credit: Getty Images

There are a few times Smith said it may be better to book round trip, including on international flights and on some airlines (like JetBlue and United), where carry-ons are not included in the cheapest fares.

"If you really need to bring bags on your trip, it may sometimes work in your favor to just pay for a normal round-trip ticket on an airline like Delta, which includes a free carry-on with the cheapest fares, or Southwest that would include a carry-on and up to two checked bags at no additional cost," Smith said.

As for other advice on how to stay frugal with flights, Smith told T+L it's key to look early and often.

"Start looking earlier than you think so you can really take advantage of price drops when they happen," Smith said, adding it may also be a good idea to set price alerts on Google for specific routes, or subscribe to services like Scott's Cheap Flights, which will notify you of all kinds of deals out of your home airport.

"Also, if you have a little flexibility about when you can travel, opt to travel in the middle of the week when prices are generally a little lower since they don't coincide with a lot of major business travel," Smith added.