A multi-city flight is an itinerary that doesn’t follow a typical there-and-back pattern, but instead goes from Point A to Point B and on to Point C (and possibly Point D, etc). A multi-city itinerary can be used to create a layover, visit several cities in one trip, or fly back to a different airport than where you started.
With a little work, you can often add more cities to your trip for the same cost or for not much more than you were going to pay anyway. Depending on where you’re flying, it can be cheaper to book a multi-city ticket than separate one-way tickets.
Many booking websites allow you to choose between roundtrip, one-way, or multi-city when looking for flights. Once you choose the multi-city option, just keep adding flights and dates until your trip is complete (many sites limit you to six legs). When you’re done, you’ll have all of your flights on one itinerary, just like you would for a regular roundtrip. We have a full tutorial that explains how to do this step by step.
When it comes to long-haul flights, it’s typically cheaper to lump them together on one itinerary instead of buying one-way flights. However, once you’ve reached the region you want to explore, it can be cheaper to buy the short-haul flights one by one.
The reason is because all the flights in a single itinerary need to be on the same airlines or between airlines that have a partnership. However, the cheapest intra-Europe flights, for example, are usually on Ryanair or easyJet which don't have partnerships with airlines like Delta British Airways. And sometimes, it may actually be cheaper to take a train between European cities rather than fly, an option not available to you if you try including the B-C connection in your single itinerary.
For example, if you want to fly from San Francisco to Dublin, hop to Paris, scoot to Athens, and then fly home from Berlin, your best best may be to book a multi-city flight from San Francisco to Dublin, and Berlin to San Francisco on one ticket, and then buy one-ways for the shorter flights within Europe.
On the other hand, if you plan to cross several regions—for example, flying from San Francisco to Hong Kong to London to San Francisco, it may be cheaper to book it all on one ticket.
Of course, while this is true most of the time, it isn’t always. For example on ANA or TAP Air Portugal, it's often cheaper to include all segments. A bit of guess-and-check is helpful here rather than assuming.
Yes. If you depart from one airport but return to another, or fly to one airport and return from another, this is called an open-jaw flight.
An open-jaw flight is when you fly from Point A to Point B and then Point C to Point A, or from Point A to Point B and then from Point B to Point C. For example, you might fly to London from Seattle, but then fly back from London to Portland. Or you might fly from NYC to Paris, but then return to NYC from London
You’d book it the same way as a multi-city flight and can be useful if you plan to do a lot of on-the-ground travel.
A double open-jaw ticket is similar to an open-jaw, but all cities are different, so you might fly from Point A to Point B and then from Point C to Point D (e.g from NYC to London, and then from Paris to Boston). It’s still usually cheaper than buying two one-way tickets because it’s still considered a roundtrip ticket as far as the airline is concerned.