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There are various ways to book a ticket – whether revenue or award – you can select from a one-way, round-trip, multi-city, open-jaw, etc. itinerary types. There are advantages and disadvantages to all types, for example, if you book a round-trip award you could add a free stopover depending on the program you’re using.

While most people book one-way or round-trip tickets, there is a big advantage in booking multi-city and open-jaw tickets on some revenue fares and award redemptions – you could get a free stopover or even a lower fare sometimes.

What is a Multi-City Ticket?

When you’re going to visit multiple destinations on your trip, you may consider booking a multi-city ticket, which is a combination of flights with more than one destination. Multi-city tickets are great because you can book all flights on one reservation and the airline may provide benefits if you visit more than one destination – such as a free stopover or a lower fare, than if booked separately.

For example, a multi-city ticket would be:

  • Seattle to London
  • London to Paris
  • Paris to Rome
  • Rome to Seattle

In this case your destinations are London, Paris, and Rome – 3 in total. Note that your stays in each of your destinations should be more than 24 hours, otherwise these would simply be long layovers and not stops in your journey.

What is an Open-Jaw Ticket?

An open-jaw ticket is slightly different than a multi-city ticket in that you’re skipping one of the flights in the “middle” of your trip and instead taking ground transportation (or booking a separate flight not on this ticket). You can have one or more open-jaws on a ticket, however whether or not they price and you get confirmation is up to the fare rules as published by the airline.

For example, an open-jaw ticket could be:

  • Seattle to London
  • Paris to Seattle

The open-jaw is between London and Paris – you’ll book both of these flights on the same reservation and then take the train between the two cities, for example.

You could also add in an open-jaw into a multi-city ticket:

  • Seattle to London
  • London to Paris
  • Rome to Seattle

In this example, you have a stopover in London and then an open-jaw between Paris and Rome. This is just one example, but you can truly customize your trip to your desire with a combination of open-jaws and multi-city stopovers.

Free Stopovers on Awards via Multi-City

There are a few frequent flyer programs that allow you to add a free stopover on an award ticket. The exact details depend on your routing and the airline issuing your ticket, however in most cases the airlines that offer a free stopover require you to travel round-trip. There are a limited number of airlines that permit a free stopover on a one-way award ticket.

To book your free stopover, you’ll need to figure out what conditions need to be met in order to qualify and then you’d book it online under the multi-city option, if possible. Some requirements may include that you need to fly round-trip on certain airlines and your stopover might only be allowed in a certain region. There are also airlines that have additional stopover restrictions such as maximum permitted stay.

Stopovers on Revenue Tickets via Multi-City

We write a lot about stopovers on award tickets – in order to maximize your miles and stretch them further. The fact is that some revenue fares also allow stopovers – the price can vary, but you’re able to do the same process as on an award and visit multiple destinations. Sometimes a stopover on a revenue ticket can be free and sometimes it could cost, be sure to try the multi-city option and see the results. You could also read the fare rules and see what’s allowed.

Advantageous Pricing on Open-Jaws

This doesn’t really apply on domestic flights as round-trips are usually priced as the combined sum of the two one-way tickets. However, this isn’t the case on most long-haul flights, for example, a one-way ticket to Europe will most likely cost more than a round-trip ticket, on traditional airlines. What happens if you want to visit more than one place but stopovers are not permitted nor are multi-city flights?

You can usually book an open-jaw on a revenue ticket for a similar price that the round-trip ticket costs. For example, say you want to visit both Madrid and Barcelona – however you don’t want to fly to and from the same city, but one-way tickets are too expensive. You’d simply book an open-jaw:

  • Departure City – Madrid
  • Barcelona – Departure City

This would most likely price similarly to the routing of Departure City – Madrid – Departure City. The open-jaw usually has to be in the same region for a favorable price to apply – otherwise the fare will be a sum of two one-way tickets.

Modifying After Departure

The reason why we love booking one-way tickets is because they’re easier to change than round-trip or multi-city tickets. Once you fly a part of your ticket, it can get messy to change the other parts and some airlines don’t even allow changes after the first segment on a booking is flown.

If you’ve booked a simple round-trip, you should be able to modify your return journey after you fly your outbound journey. It shouldn’t be that hard, but it gets tricky when you have stopovers and open-jaws involved as the process to calculate the new fare is more complicated and some airlines only allow changes in the event of irregular operations, after part of the ticket is used. As always, be sure to check the fare rules and the rules of the airline issuing your ticket.

All in All

Whatever booking type you’re using, you need to carefully check all available options to you which may provide benefits and savings. If you’re booking a multi-city trip, be sure to check if it is better to book it all on one booking or as a combination of multiple one-way tickets.

Remember that every airline and frequent flyer program has their own rules and some are more generous than others in terms of stopover policies, if you are transferring bank points to an airline for a booking, analyze all transfer partners and select the one that provides the best value for your trip.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.