Why does a flight from Britain cost much less than a journey to come back?

Q&A: Travel unravelled
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The Independent Travel

Q. My daughter lives near Auckland, and I fly out each year. The average economy flight from London with any of the regular airlines is about £750 return. But when the trip is made the other way around with Auckland as the starting point the fare can be more than double – typically NZ$3,000 (more than £1,500). Why is there this incredible discrepancy for an identical ticket? Rose Goss

A Yes, it looks ridiculous that the same 23,000 miles of air travel should be priced so differently, but it is a reflection of the competition that anyone starting a journey in London can benefit from – and the weakness of the UK economy.

The days of £750 tickets are numbered, because of the price of fuel and scarcity of seats; the best deal we can find for the next low season in late April is £900 return on Emirates via Dubai and Australia, or £950 direct on Air New Zealand.

Reverse the dates, and Emirates comes out at the equivalent of £1,500, with Air New Zealand at £1,800. There is another option, a journey involving Air NZ between Auckland and Sydney, connecting with Virgin Atlantic between Sydney and London via Hong Kong, for just over £1,200. So, not the doubling in fare you surmised, but still a 35 per cent price discrepancy. Wherever you go in the world, the UK is usually the best place to start.

Q. I want to find a flights website that allows you to book by date, without specifying a destination. All sites I have visited so far require a destination that leads to a laborious search. Caitlin Hughes

AThe closest approximation to what you need is most probably skyscanner.net. Tap in your travel dates and departure point, eg "London (Any)". Enter your destination as "Everywhere". You then get a list of nations in increasing order of the price of the lowest fare – for half-term, for example, the cheapest is Norway at £57.

Click through to find out where you can go for that price (it turns out to be Rygge, near Oslo, on Ryanair). If that does not appeal, check out other countries.

If any readers can suggest an alternative, please get in touch at travel@independent.co.uk