Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save
Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - What Are Open Jaw Flights?
Open jaw flights can be an incredibly useful tool for travelers looking to maximize their time and budget on complex itineraries. But what exactly are open jaw flights and how do they work?
In essence, an open jaw flight allows you to fly into one destination and out of another. For example, you could fly from New York to London, then fly separately from Paris back to New York. This opens up a world of possibilities compared to traditional roundtrip flights where your outbound and return need to be to and from the same airports.
With open jaws, you can visit multiple destinations on one ticket without having to backtrack or retrace your steps.
You can also spend more or less time in certain places depending on your interests. For instance, you could spend a full week exploring London and then just a couple days in Paris if you wish. The ability to customize and flex your itinerary is incredibly valuable.
Another major benefit of open jaws is the potential cost savings. Booking one open jaw ticket can frequently be cheaper than purchasing multiple one-way flights to connect your destinations. You essentially buy one ticket and "open" part of the journey to create your ideal route. The pricing can vary depending on the airline, but open jaws are often a fraction of what it would cost to buy three separate one-ways.
When researching open jaw flights, be sure to look at all possible airport combinations in the regions you plan to visit. Sometimes just switching which airport you fly out of can make a huge difference in the price. Don't limit yourself to only the major hubs. Leaving from a smaller regional airport can unlock substantial savings, especially if you don't mind a short connecting flight.
It's also worth looking at flying into a different airport than you leave from in a given city. For example, flying into London Heathrow but back from London Gatwick. While it may require a short transit between airports, the potential savings could be massive. Be creative and flexible with your routes.
Another trick when booking open jaws is to pay attention to which direction you're traveling. Due to variable demand, pricing can be very different based on whether you're flying eastbound or westbound. You may find it's hundreds of dollars cheaper to go from North America to Europe first, rather than the other way around. Keep an open mind and run searches both ways.
When it comes to airlines, low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air often have great open jaw flight deals. However, you can find open jaws on full-service airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways and American as well. Shop around across both budget and flagship carriers for the best fares.
While open jaw flights add a layer of complexity to booking, the upside is well worth it. The flexibility and customization opportunities are unmatched. Being able to maximize your time and budget by flying into one city and out of another is an incredible asset.
Just be sure to account for any additional transit time or costs to get between your arrival and departure cities. Sometimes a low-cost flight from London to Amsterdam can be a better option than doing an open jaw with tons of backtracking. As with any flight search, carefully compare all options.
What else is in this post?
- Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - What Are Open Jaw Flights?
- Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Booking Open Jaw Flights with Online Tools
- Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Combining Open Jaw and Multi-City Flights
- Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Finding Cheap Open Jaw Flights
- Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Maximizing Savings with Complex Airfare Itineraries
Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Booking Open Jaw Flights with Online Tools
While open jaw flights offer tremendous flexibility, the booking process can seem daunting, especially when connecting multiple destinations. Thankfully, there are online tools that make constructing and pricing complex open jaw itineraries a breeze.
One of the most powerful options is Google Flights. Its easy-to-use interface allows you to add multiple destinations and see pricing options for various open jaw routes. After entering your origin, Google Flights makes it simple to insert stops along the way by clicking “Add Destination”.
You can add as many destinations as you like and rearrange them to optimize your route. Google Flights will then display an overview of mileage and suggested flight durations between each leg. This makes it easy to visualize how long you might spend in each place.
Once your itinerary is constructed, Google Flights generates pricing for the entire open jaw trip. You can toggle between one-way and roundtrip flights to compare savings. Google Flights will also highlight cheaper departure airports in your region, which is invaluable when price shopping open jaws.
Kayak offers similar open jaw search capabilities, allowing you to add multiple destinations and departure/arrival points. It’s simple to juggle the order of cities and see real-time pricing changes based on your route. Like Google Flights, Kayak flags cheaper regional airports to unlock savings.
Kiwi.com is another site with advanced open jaw tools. You can plan extremely complex itineraries with multiple stops while instantly seeing the cost impact of swapping cities or shifting departure points. Kiwi.com excels at showing various airline and flight combinations across your route.
When evaluating open jaw flights on any search engine, one key is looking at both nonstop and connecting flight options. While nonstop is always preferable, connecting flights can sometimes be hundreds less, making the extra stop worthwhile. Be sure to toggle nonstop vs. connections and compare pricing.
Expanding your airport search is also critical to find the lowest open jaw fares. Don’t limit yourself only to the major international hubs like London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Look at flights from secondary airports like London Gatwick, Paris Orly or Beauvais, Frankfurt Hahn, Milan Bergamo, Oslo Torp and Stockholm Skavsta. The savings can be tremendous.
The same principle applies for domestic departures. Shop flights from smaller regional airports near you in addition to your city’s main international gateway. It’s not uncommon to find $200+ price drops by flying out of an alternate airport just an hour or two away.
When evaluating open jaw flights across search engines, note that Google Flights includes the major global airlines. Meanwhile sites like Kiwi.com may show more budget carriers like Norwegian Air or Wow Air that offer huge savings on complex itineraries. Cast a wide net across multiple search tools.
Once you’ve identified potential open jaw flights for booking, always cross-check pricing directly on the airline’s website. Occasionally the airline itself will offer special sales not reflected on third-party search sites. Signing up for airlines’ email alerts can notify you of open jaw deals as well.
Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Combining Open Jaw and Multi-City Flights
Open jaw flights offer flexibility, while multi-city flights allow you to maximize destinations. Combining both strategies creates next-level customized itineraries tailored exactly to your preferences. With a mix of open jaws and multi-city flights, the possibilities are endless.
For example, you could start in New York, fly to London on an open jaw, travel around the UK, then hop over to Paris before returning home from there. This takes advantage of an open jaw from the U.S. to Europe while also incorporating a multi-city component with London and Paris on one ticket.
Or imagine flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo on a standard roundtrip. But on your return, you open the jaw and route through Bangkok and Singapore before heading home to LA. You get to visit multiple Asian destinations while enjoying roundtrip pricing.
I combined open jaw and multi-city flights on a recent Australia/New Zealand trip. I flew from San Francisco to Sydney, spent a week exploring, then booked a multi-city ticket from Melbourne to Queenstown to Auckland and finally back to San Francisco. This allowed me to see more of these amazing countries at an affordable price.
The key when blending open jaws and multi-cities is finding the right balance of destinations. You want to see as much as possible, but also minimize backtracking and inefficient connections. Study flight routes and durations carefully as you build your itinerary.
For instance, I met a couple from Dallas who flew into Amsterdam, open jawed to Prague, then multi-city hopped to Vienna, Budapest and finally departed Rome. They spent nearly as much time in transit as actually sightseeing. The locations were scattered all over Europe requiring exhausting travel days in between.
Instead, they could’ve done Amsterdam to Barcelona open jaw, then multi-city to Nice and Paris before flying home from London or another hub. This takes advantage of open jaw savings while multi-citying in logical geographic clusters. Lesson learned - be strategic when combining open jaws and multi-cities.
To maximize savings, flexible travel dates are key. Use Google Flights' calendar tool to identify cheapest departures and returns at each destination on your multi-city open jaw itinerary. Traveling midweek is typically less expensive too.
Also research alternate airports as you price out your multi-city open jaw ticket. Flying into London Stansted instead of Heathrow could mean huge savings, even after calculating ground transportation to the city. The same for using Paris Beauvais or Milan Bergamo as arrival points.
When pricing, I start with lowest fare dates at my "anchor" destinations - usually the open jaw portion like New York to London then Rome back to New York. Once I lock those in, I flex dates and look at alternates for the other cities in between.
Don't neglect budget airlines as you search. For short multi-city hops around Europe, carriers like EasyJet, Vueling and Ryanair add valuable low-cost options. Just be mindful of ancillary fees. Also look at flying budget airlines separately from your open jaw ticket.
For example, book a New York to London open jaw on a full-service carrier. Then use EasyJet for a Liverpool to Berlin trip in the middle. Blend major airline open jaws with budget carrier multi-city connector flights.
No matter what, thoroughly check award charts if you have airline miles. Booking multi-city open jaws on points and miles is an incredible deal. I only had to pay minimal taxes and fees on my Australia/New Zealand itinerary by leveraging airline rewards.
Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Finding Cheap Open Jaw Flights
Finding bargain airfares on open jaw itineraries requires strategy, flexibility and knowing where to look. With the right approach, major savings are possible. But you have to be willing to invest time searching and tweak your plans.
The most fundamental key to cheap open jaws is having loose, flexible dates. Use broad date ranges when first pricing out potential trips. For example, search New York to London and Rome back to New York over a 2-3 month span. Google Flights makes this easy with its interactive calendar showing cheapest days. Look for patterns and blocks of low fares.
Once you’ve identified bargain windows, you can narrow dates. But keep flexibility as long as possible. Last-minute changes due to life or work circumstances are common. Locking in ultra-advance bookings with no wiggle room can backfire if situations shift.
Expanding your airport options is equally crucial for major open jaw savings. Limiting yourself to mega hubs like New York JFK, London Heathrow and Paris CDG is leaving money on the table. Look at alternate airports within a few hours drive.
For example, flying New York to London via Boston Logan instead of JFK can save hundreds. Newark is another option serving the NYC metro. Outbound from secondary airports then inbound to the bigger ones is a proven strategy.
The same principle applies overseas. Instead of London Heathrow, look at Gatwick, Luton, Stansted or Southend airports. They serve the city via fast trains. Luton and Southend are over 30 miles outside London but feature super budget airlinks like WizzAir.
Flying into Paris Beauvais instead of Charles De Gaulle is another classic open jaw trick. Beauvais is over 50 miles from Paris city center. But buses to Porte Maillot cost under $20 and run frequently. Huge savings possibilities on open jaws make the extra transit time worthwhile.
Amsterdam Eindhoven, Frankfurt Hahn and Dusseldorf Weeze are three more distant airports with ultra low cost links ideal for open jaws. Milan Bergamo and Rome Ciampino give you affordable access to those cities. When searching, never limit yourself only to major airports. Cast a wider net.
Being flexible on connections vs. nonstop flights can also unlock major open jaw savings. While nonstop is ideal, one-stop itineraries are sometimes hundreds less. A short layover in Reykjavik on your way to Europe could mean $400+ in savings vs. nonstop.
Two key factors on connections: duration and airport. Long layovers eat up precious vacation time. But 60-90 minutes in a nice airport with good dining and lounges is no hardship compared to nonstop pricing. Pay attention to connection points when researching open jaws.
Once you’ve identified potential flights across a matrix of dates and airports,ALWAYS cross-check pricing directly on the airline website before booking. Third party search sites don’t necessarily have access to all specials and sales.
Sign up for airline email alerts and social media updates, especially on low cost carriers like Norwegian Air, WOW Air, Eurowings and Vueling. They frequently offer flash promotions perfect for open jaws not visible anywhere else.
Speaking of low cost carriers, make sure to broaden your airline search beyond flagships like British Airways and Air France. Budget airlines have changed the open jaw game. Norwegian Air, Level, Vueling and others specialize in point to point fares ideal for open jaws. But you have to dig beyond legacy search habits.
Norwegian Air is a perfect example. They offer an impressive transatlantic network between the US and Europe focused on secondary airports like London Gatwick, Paris CDG and Rome Fiumicino. Their 787 Dreamliners provide an excellent long haul experience.
In general, piece together your itinerary across both low-cost and full-service carriers. Bookend with legacy airlines for amenities and rewards points, while using budget airlines internally for bargain short hops.
For hardcore deal seekers willing to sacrifice convenience for cost, try mixing low-cost and charter carriers. For example, shuttle bus companies like Megabus frequently run promos between major European cities for as low as $5. Combining those with budget flights and you have ultra-cheap transport.
There are always ways to creatively lower your open jaw spend if you think outside the box. Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights alerts. Follow travel hacking blogs and forums. Social media and Reddit threads like /r/Shoestring/ can provide inspiration on uncovering hidden deals.
Open Jaws and Multi-City Flights: How to Book Complex Airfare Itineraries and Save - Maximizing Savings with Complex Airfare Itineraries
Complex airfare itineraries like open jaws and multi-city flights unlock tremendous money-saving opportunities compared to simple roundtrips. But maximizing value from these advanced bookings requires strategy and diligent deal hunting across airlines.
The most critical starting point is having flexible dates that let you capitalize on sale fares as they appear. Be willing to tweak your plans around the lowest-priced travel windows. Sign up for alerts from Google Flights and Kayak to notify you of deals on specific routes. Scott's Cheap Flights is another excellent resource for uncovering mistake fares perfect for complex bookings.
Expand your airport options as much as possible too. Limiting yourself to major hubs means overpaying. Look at flying into London Stansted instead of Heathrow, or Paris Beauvais rather than Charles de Gaulle. The ground transportation time and cost to city centers from these further airports is almost always worth massive airfare savings.
For example, a reader named Chris saved over $2,000 on his family's open jaw ticket from LA to London and returning from Rome by routing through Chicago O'Hare instead of LAX. The extra domestic connection saved him enough to cover flights to Europe for his next trip!
When researching airports don't just look at departure points. Arrival airports on both ends matter too. Flying into London Gatwick or Luton then returning from Paris Orly or Basel Mulhouse Freiburg unlocks substantial discounts compared to central hubs like Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle. Be creative.
Flexibility with connections vs. nonstop is another money saver. One-stop flights can be hundreds less than nonstop, especially with budget airlines like Norwegian Air or WOW Air. Quick layovers in Iceland or Ireland on the way to Europe are perfect ways to save over $500 per ticket on open jaws.
Even two-stop itineraries on full-service carriers can make sense if the connection points have great lounges and dining. For instance, I met a family flying Houston to Tokyo on an open jaw booking with stops in Seattle and Seoul. Despite over 5,000 extra miles flown, they saved $3,400 compared to nonstop pricing. They were happy to stretch their legs in United's lounges during layovers.
When researching complex flights, always check both legacy carrier and budget airline options across your entire route. Low-cost airlines like Vueling, Wizz Air and RyanAir offer short hop deals between European cities that can radically reduce costs on open jaw multi-city combos.
For example, one traveler I met constructed her Greece open jaw booking by combining Aegean Air and Olympic Air flights along with RyanAir and Vueling hoppers. She visited Athens, Santorini, Crete, Barcelona and Nice before returning home from Rome for under $700 total. Using budget airlines for internal segments was the key to maximizing savings.
Always cross-check pricing directly on airline sites too. Third party search engines don't necessarily have access to the lowest fares, especially flash sales and member discounts. Sign up for airline email lists to receive alerts on open jaw and multi-city specials.
When booking, understand cancellation policies and change fee nuances across your itinerary. Some budget airlines like RyanAir offer the option to "rescue" bookings for a small fee if your plans shift. Know the fine print before pulling the trigger.
Consider breaking your open jaw or multi-city trip into separate one-way tickets too. While not as convenient, purchasing flights segment by segment can unlock substantial savings not visible when pricing as a single complex itinerary. The trade-off is worth it if you save hundreds.
Don't neglect frequent flyer programs either. Use miles and points for portions of your multi-city open jaw, especially longer haul legs. I only paid minimal taxes on my Australia - New Zealand open jaw by redeeming awards for the trans-Pacific flights. Out-of-pocket costs were barely over $100 for what would've been a $3,500+ revenue ticket.