Open-jaw Flights: What They Are and Why You Might Want to Book Them

Booking an open-jaw flight could help you save money on your next trip — what to know.

<p>Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images</p>

Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

Airfare is expensive, and there’s no way around it. Or is there? If you’re looking for a creative way to save money on holiday travel, or you’re already prepping for summer 2024, you should consider booking an open-jaw flight. These flights allow much more flexibility in your trip and are a great way to cut costs while seeing the world. I spoke with a representative from Expedia to discover just how open-jaw flights can revolutionize the way we travel.

What are open-jaw flights, and how do they work?

On a standard round-trip flight, you fly from your city of origin to your destination and back. You might fly from Atlanta to San Francisco, enjoy a few days in the city, and return from San Francisco back to Atlanta. An open-jaw flight is when you go from your origin to a destination, move to a different destination, and then return from your second (or third or fourth) stop back to your origin. Using this same example, you could fly from Atlanta to San Francisco, take a road trip along the coast to Los Angeles, and then fly from Los Angeles back to Atlanta. Open-jaw flights might be on the same airline, or they could be two one-way tickets on different airlines.

Related: The Best Time to Book a Flight for Domestic, International, and Summer Travel

<p>Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure</p>

Mariah Tyler/Travel + Leisure

Open-jaw vs. Multi-city Flights

“Open-jaw flights are a type of multi-city flight where a traveler books a return flight from a different destination than the one they originally flew into, but returns to the same ‘home’ airport,” says Expedia. “It usually means the traveler will take an alternate form of transportation between two of their destinations, such as a train, car, boat, etc.”

The biggest distinction between an open-jaw flight and a multi-city flight is that you’re not booking one-way plane tickets throughout your journey. “There are other kinds of multi-city flights, where the traveler flies to each destination on their journey, such as NYC > London, London > Paris, Paris > NYC, or where they book a series of one-way flights and don’t return to a “home” airport,” says Expedia. Both open-jaw and multi-city flights are fantastic ways to save time and money.

Benefits of Booking an Open-jaw Flight

There are several reasons why booking an open-jaw flight can make sense. To start, you can save a good chunk of money. Open-jaw flights are especially beneficial if you go somewhere widely serviced by train. If you’re traveling from the U.S. to Europe and want to hit major cities like Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Berlin, it makes little sense to pay for a round-trip ticket from the U.S. to Paris. This means you’ll have to start and end your trip in the same city, which can quickly become expensive and time-consuming. It’s much easier to fly back to the U.S. from Berlin than it is to fly from Berlin back to Paris and then back to the U.S. Not only are you able to see more cities, but you’re saving on your transatlantic ticket and the travel within Europe.

“Booking open-jaw or multi-city flights can sometimes yield savings because you have more flexibility in your trip in terms of departure airports, routes, and carriers,” says Expedia. “It can also be a great way to build more flexibility and spontaneity into your trip, allowing you to explore more destinations during your trip.”

Ultimately, saving money, increasing flexibility, and planning an excellent itinerary are all reasons to book an open-jaw flight. Even if you don’t want to visit multiple cities, you can implement the open-jaw model when traveling to larger cities with multiple airports. I went to New York in September and found it was much cheaper to fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport and out of LaGuardia Airport – both on Delta.

Related: How to Book a Flight to Get the Best Deals

<p>Artur Debat/Getty Images</p>

Artur Debat/Getty Images

How to Book Open-jaw Flights

To book an open-jaw flight, you’ll need an idea of where you want to end up on your trip. If you’re flying from New York to Paris, think of all the cities you can reach from Paris by train. Maybe you want to go to Brussels and Amsterdam and book your return from the Amsterdam (AMS) airport. Or, head south and fly back through Geneva, an easy train ride away.

Once you have this tentative route, you can use search engines, like Expedia or Google Flights, to see your options. You’ll select “multi-city” instead of round-trip and enter your origin and destination for each route.

“Expedia is the perfect place to book this type of itinerary because of the breadth of options and ability to pair flights on different airlines to find the optimal itinerary and price for your trip,” explains Expedia. “Travelers can choose from more than 500 airlines and compare routes, prices, and availability and then build the perfect itinerary to meet their needs.”

Of course, if you book with an airline, the open-jaw savings can also apply to mileage redemptions, not just cash.

Open-jaw flights can work for anyone and any itinerary, but it takes slightly more planning than booking a traditional round-trip ticket. The payoff is worth the effort; every little bit saved can go toward your next trip.

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