How open-jaw flights can save you money – and make your holidays more worthwhile

Not so long ago, a multi-destination holiday was usually just about making the most of a layover en route to Australia or the Far East. But according to ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) the number of multi-destination trips made by Britons has almost doubled in the past year. The latest travel trends report showed that 14 percent of trips made in 2023 were multi-city, compared to 8 percent in 2022.

Savvy travelers are saving big bucks and seeing more of the world at the same time by booking so-called “open-jaw” flights. This is when you visit multiple cities using different tickets on the same trip.

It’s a trick that makes the internet easier; squeezing out every last drop on global flight booking websites including tiny national airlines and taking advantage of the explosion in codeshare agreements between the major carriers.

Abi Shaw, founder of Bushbaby Travel, has been organizing custom multi-destination trips for families using open jaw flights for twenty years. She says: “In some cities in Asia, you can fly between destinations for £35, but even using the major carriers, the growth of airline groups such as the Oneworld Alliance offers far more options than before.”


Asian cities, such as Hanoi, offer cheap flights to other regional hubs – iStock Editorial

It’s not just summer holidays and business travel, skiers are also using it. Almost 20 percent of the ski trips sold by the flexible holiday tour operator Heidi use non-deferred flights – which they call “FlexiFly”. Co-founder Marcus Blunt says: “We introduced FlexiFly because we knew open flights would unlock thousands of alternative flight options and date combinations. It’s the ultimate in travel flexibility and saves skiers an average of £100 per holiday.”

What are open jaw flights?

Open leg flights allow multi-destination journeys without backtracking. You do not arrive and depart from the same airport. For example, you might choose to fly out London-New York and then return Chicago-London. Often, but not always, onward travel between two cities is overland and sometimes the flights are booked as individual tickets.

What are the benefits?

Flexibility, savings, vacation variety and a jet lag. Open-jaw flights allow travelers to see more of a destination than they would by taking a direct flight in and out, whether by train, bus or rental car, and experience lesser-known cities. on them. For example, they are a popular way for American visitors to see Europe. Open leg flights are often cheaper than regular return flights or two one-way flights. Being flexible with your destination may allow a traveler to book a flight using airline rewards points such as Avios.

Father-of-two James Latimer books multi-destination ski trips after discovering that a family Interrail pass, including the Eurostar, costs the same as a single London-Paris trip.

“This Christmas we’re flying in to Salzburg with easyJet, then, after a week of skiing, we’re taking the train to Vienna for the New Year, then a train to Munich to fly back with British Airways from there,” said he. “We wanted a different trip, but it’s much cheaper to travel around peak dates – around £100 per person, which is the same amount for a family of four.”


James Latimer is set to fly home from Munich after an initial flight to Salzburg this winter

What kind of traveler might use them?

The trick to jaw-dropping flights is research, flexibility and an open mind. To get the best options (and savings), a traveler needs to be savvy, knowledgeable about the best search engines for booking local carriers and overland transportation, and (when possible) flexible about with travel dates.

Open jet flights can be a more affordable way to see bucket list destinations, such as Machu Picchu and the Galapagos, or various parts of Africa.

The GalapagosThe Galapagos

Open-jaw flights may be your best bet to see The Galapagos Islands – Stockphoto

Windsor-based Lucy Higginson and her family took a few days on safari at no extra cost when they flew to Johannesburg with BA and took onward internal flights to Cape Town using Mango.

“We saved £250 each going indirectly to Cape Town, our destination, which gave us money to stay in a game lodge near Johannesburg and take the children on safari,” she explains. “It took longer but the game drives are much more authentic near Jo’burg, so it made sense.”

How to book open jaw flights

Search for multiple one-way flights rather than selecting multi-city trips in a search engine (although it is sometimes useful to use a multi-city function as a benchmark to try to improve the fare). It helps if you can be as flexible as possible with travel dates and airports – for example, in the UK, be prepared to fly out of Luton or even Manchester and back to Heathrow or Gatwick. Some search engines like Kayak allow you to choose a radius around a city if you’re willing to take a train. Compare multiple search engines as well as airline websites, especially if you have reward points such as Avios.

You don’t always have to do it yourself: find a tour operator with good experience in designing customized and flexible trips or even “hire a flight expert” with, where you pay £25 for a bargain hunter with experience to find you. the best deal.

Please note, as always with independent booking, it is more difficult to get a refund or assistance on items booked individually, and your money may not be protected as it is if you book with an Atol-bound tour operator.

A spokesperson for Abta said: “Combining multiple destinations within a single trip is complex due to its nature. If a specialist tour operator books part of your accommodation or part of your accommodation [as well as open-jaw flights] it offers the same level of protection as a normal package holiday.”

Five open-jaw ways that make sense and can save you money

US West Coast

London > New York > Los Angeles > New York

City of AngelsCity of Angels

Take in Los Angeles’ iconic Grove Park after experiencing the Big Apple – iStockphoto

Total travel time: 23h 48min

Cost comparison: £639 open-jaw versus £1,008 for LA with Virgin Atlantic

The details

Check off two buckets on the US city list in one trip, connecting the city and the beach by easing your way into the West Coast time zone. Direct flights with Virgin Atlantic from 22-30 August cost from £1,008, with a total flight time of 11h 20m. Split this into three separate tickets, flying on 22 August from London Gatwick to New York (JFK) with Norse for £262, from New York (Newark) to Los Angeles (LAX) on 24 August, and LAX to London Gatwick on August 30 for £270.

Adventure South Africa

London > Johannesburg > Cape Town > London

Cape TownCape Town

South Africa has a lot to offer beyond Cape Town – South Africa Tourism

Total travel time: 30h 5min

Cost comparison: £1,186 vs £1,462 (London to Cape Town direct with BA)

The details:

Combine a game drive in Johannesburg with a few days by the sea and a trip up Table Mountain in Cape Town using open jaw flights. Fly from London to Johannesburg with Aerotop on July 25 for £629, after a few days of game driving fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town on FlySafair on July 28 for £41, then from Cape Town to London direct with BA for £516 for 2 August.

Ski savings

London > Innsbruck > St Anton > Friedrichshafen

Saint AntonSaint Anton

Hit the slopes in St Anton

Total travel time: 7h 24min

Cost comparison: £156.98 jaw open versus £215.98 direct result.

The details:

Give yourself an extra £62 in beer money on New Year’s Eve by flying in and out of different airports for a ski holiday in St Anton, Austria. Fly out from London Gatwick to Innsbruck on December 29 for £86.99. Take the train to St. Anton (around £18), enjoy a week of skiing and then train to Friedrichshafen – only half an hour more and £3 more than going to Innsbruck, but saving £62 on a flight home (£30.99 instead). £92.99). Flights are both with easyJet.

Falling for New York and Toronto

London > Toronto > Niagara Falls > New York

Niagara FallsNiagara Falls

Take the bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls – Getty

Total travel time: 27h 15 min

Cost comparison: £633.92 for single tickets versus £679 booked as a multi-city trip.

The details:

Visit Niagara Falls and explore the east coast of North America by bus, as well as two of its largest cities. Fly from London to Toronto with Air Transat on August 24 for £352, take a two-hour bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls for £11.99 on August 27, then on to New York on August 28 for £40.98, flying back to London on 30th August with Viking for £229.

Odyssey Far East

London > Hanoi > Hong Kong > London

The opportunity to experience authentic Vietnamese food is a highlight for many visitorsThe opportunity to experience authentic Vietnamese food is a highlight for many visitors

The opportunity to experience authentic Vietnamese food is a highlight for many visitors to Hanoi – getty

Total travel time: 37h 35min

Cost comparison: £713 open single ticket versus £1,100.29 booked as a multi-city trip with British Airways.

The details:

Combine two very unique destinations, and make a holiday in Asia a dual destination trip, beach and shopping, city and culture by visiting Vietnam and Hong Kong. Fly out of London to Hanoi with China Southern for £400 on October 10 (including a stopover) and after a few beach days, head to Hong Kong with HK Express for just £48. Fly home from Hong Kong and China Southern for £265 (with one short stop which adds two hours to the total flight time but extends the price of a direct flight).

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