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What is an open-jaw flight and how you can save time and money with them

When you think about a roundtrip the logic is simple. Buy a ticket from a destination and return from the same location. Let’s say you live in Brazil and wish to visit California, you are likely to buy a roundtrip ticket from Guarulhos to San Francisco (GRU-SFO). An open-jaw flight is a roundtrip itinerary that arrives in one city but departs from another. Let’s say you want to travel stunning Highway 1 by car from San Francisco to Los Angeles during your vacation in California. In this case, you could buy an open-jaw flight, but instead of retuning from San Francisco, your last flight would be Los Angeles to Guarulhos. In this article we’ll explain what is a open-jaw-flight and how you can benefit from them.

What is an open-jaw flight?

The open-jaw flight allows you to see two destinations in one trip without backtracking to the initial destination to catch your flight home. Why this matter? Well, sometimes you might find cheaper flights if you return from the closest city, which can save you money even if you have to pay for an extra transportation ticket back home. You can fly from Point A to Point B, then return from Point B to Point C. For example, you might fly from Guarulhos to San Francisco, then return from Los Angeles to Guarulhos, or you could fly from San Francisco to Rio, then drive to Sao Paulo.

What is the difference between an open-jaw flight from multi-city flights?

Technically, open-jaw flights are a variation on multi-city flights, however, the key difference is that multi-city itineraries include the flight between cities, while open-jaw itineraries do not.

In the example above, if you’re flying to San Francisco, you’d need to book a separate flight (or rent a car, or buy an extra flight, etc) between SF and LA. In many cases, if you try to make an open-jaw into a multi-city itinerary (by adding a flight between the two cities) it becomes much more expensive.

What is a double open-jaw flight?

Let’s complicate things. A double open-jaw flight goes from Point A to Point B, then returns from Point C to Point D. For example, flying from Guarulhos to San Francisco, then returning from Los Angeles to Rio. This is not necessary a good example, but let’s say you are traveling to Europe, you can start your trip in Budapest and come back from Netherlands.

Are open-jaw flights cheaper?

Open-jaw flights are not necessarily more expensive or cheaper than traditional roundtrip flights. There are a lot of factors at play, including the routes and the time you plan to travel. Some open-jaws might actually be less expensive than a traditional roundtrip. When traveling internationally, open-jaws are almost always cheaper than two separate one-way flights.

Most times they’re usually comparable to roundtrip in price and when you see deals such as Europe for $300s from all over the US, means there’s a good chance you could find your perfect open jaw itinerary for a similar price. Travelers going to Italy often visit Venice, Florence, and Rome in one trip, and while Italy isn’t an enormous country, the train trip from Venice to Rome will eat up at least half a day. You can save time for a gelato or the cost of the train ticket back to Venice using the open-jaw technique.

How do I book an open-jaw flight?

The most common type of open jaw flight arrives in one city and departs from another. Open jaw tickets are not booked as two one-way tickets, they’re booked as roundtrip tickets using the “multi-city flights” option on most airfare websites. Thus, both flights will be under the same reservation. Purchasing two one-way tickets is another way to go, of course, however, one-way international tickets are significantly more expensive on most airlines.

The calendar of lowest fares only works for one way and roundtrip flights on Google Flights. The ticket prices for open jaw flights don’t show up there, so your first step is to search on the calendar for the dates with the best roundtrip prices just to give you an idea of what a simple roundtrip ticket would cost and when the best prices are offered. Now you can go to multi-city and add SAO, for instance, to search all Sao Paulo area airports, not just GRU, all airports will be an option. You can also use “nearby airports” in some websites. If your destination is San Francisco  but you’re willing to drive for a great deal, you could input San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento and search for flights from all four airports.

Hope you like this technique. Have a safe trip!

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