What are cheap multi city flights and why would you use them? In short, to save money and time. With a few simple hacks, you can do both and get a lot more value from your time spent on exploring, not just traveling. Cool hey?
This is possible by ignoring the convention of 'Round Trip Travel' that our parents grew up on. With some careful planning, you can travel where you want, when you want. Simple.
How can I save money with different tickets?
- Plan ahead, this isn't for panic buying.
- Have a clear idea of your itinerary.
- Search for multiple airports in one city.
- Be flexible with times and dates (if possible).
What Are Multi-City Flights?
This is a flight pattern that does away with the standard 'there and back' idea of a round trip. You can go from A to B and then on to C or even D if you like and then return to A.
Most flight booking sites will have a dropdown box where you select One Way, Return, or Multi City, click this option and add flights as you need. A lot of sites will limit you to six legs, but that’s enough to be going on with for now, right? The world is literally your oyster!
What Is an Open Jaw Flight?
This is a variation on the above. Essentially the origin and destination are not the same in both directions. You can fly from A to B but then return from B to D or even on to C and then return to D.
Why would you want to do this? It can save time and money overall. If you want to travel to the UK, you might fly to London, travel around the UK by coach or train, and then fly home from Edinburgh. Why would you waste a day's travel returning to London to fly home? You want to see the country, not sit on a train.
You may also find better deals from different airlines and different airports for both legs, so that is a money-saver as well as a time saver.
Is It Cheaper to Book Multi City Flights or One Way Tickets?
There are great savings to be had if you take the time to look. You can tailor your itinerary to suit you. Rather than a long layover in one city and a quick look around, you can spend a day or days doing what you want, when you want it.
In general, it's cheaper to have one set of long haul tickets booked rather than a selection of one-way tickets. Cheap multi city flights also need to be from the same airline or their partners, so you get less flexibility.
EasyJet, for instance, doesn't partner with other airlines and has limited times and days they fly. You can have one-off bargains, but finding several that suit you perfectly can be a matter of luck. If you're flexible about times and dates, then it can work well.
There are no hard and fast rules here. If you look and find a good selection of bargains one-way that suit, do it. If not, then it may just be cheaper to go for Multi City. This is a case of putting in the legwork online and a good dose of luck, or a lot of forward planning.
How to Book Cheap Multi City Flights
Booking cheap multi city flights isn't the chore it would seem to be. It all depends on the website you're using. There are two ways to go about this, one is using an automated site, and the second is to do all the leg work yourself.
There are automated sites like Matrix Flights. This is simply 'plug in and play.' You input the airports and dates and let the algorithms take over. This isn't foolproof and can miss deals costing you money; on the other hand, it's super simple and super quick.
You can take matters into your own hands by using Kayak or Skyscanner. This involves more searching and open webpages as you flip between different providers and different legs of the journey. Google Flights and Momondo are also typical of the process, and I use these quite a lot, so this is a good starting point.
First of all, I would look at the calendar for round trip flights around the date you want to travel to get a good idea of prices. This is the figure that you're looking to beat if you will.
Google has a dropdown box at the top left with One Way, Return, and Multi City options. Monondo is easier with Multi City on display; also top left. When you start, you have the usual options, but at the bottom, you can see the extra option of 'Add Flight.' Clicking this will open up a new box for, you've guessed it, an additional flight.
You can keep doing this (usually, it maxes out at six or so) until you've selected all the flights that you want.
Having a whole range of web pages open can make it easy to miss the little details, a connection, or a flight here or there. I'm hyper-vigilant at this point, and just when I'm about to book flights, I always double (and triple) check to make sure I haven't missed anything. It's so easy, and I've saved $100 on one leg of a journey more than once, so do take care!
The other pitfall that I've made is in cities with multiple airports. Do make sure that you know which airport you're going to; New York for example has three airports on opposite sides of the city. This is a failsafe way to make sure you miss your flight. Just because you flew into JFK, doesn't mean you're leaving from there!