The growing ease of international travel and the desire to explore multiple destinations have led to a surge in demand for multi-city flights. However, booking these flights can sometimes seem daunting, especially when you’re trying to secure the best deal. If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple destinations and want to save money, here are some of the most effective strategies you can use.
Utilize the Power of Flight Search Engines
1. Google Flights: Frequently hailed as one of the top flight search engines, Google Flights offers an intuitive interface and powerful search features. For multi-city flights, you can input up to seven cities in the departure/destination box. The flexible dates option also allows you to compare prices across various date ranges.
2. Skyscanner: Another useful tool for finding cheap flights, Skyscanner can search for multiple routes and compare prices from numerous airlines. The ‘multi-city’ option on this platform can help travelers find the most affordable combination of flights.
3. Kayak and Kiwi: Both these platforms offer comprehensive flight search features, with the ability to book self-transfers, which can sometimes be more cost-effective. Kayak’s ‘Explore’ feature and Kiwi’s ‘Nomad’ tool can also suggest the cheapest routes for your multi-city itinerary.
4. ITA Matrix: This is a powerful search tool that allows for multi-city searches, along with advanced routing codes and flexible dates. However, you can’t book directly through ITA Matrix, so once you’ve found the best flights, you’ll have to book through the airline or another booking site.
Understand and Leverage Flight Pricing Strategies
Multi-City vs. Round Trip vs. One Way Tickets: Depending on your itinerary, booking multi-city tickets, round trips, or a combination of one-way tickets can all yield the cheapest flights. Some users have found that booking a multi-city trip can be cheaper than booking round trips, especially for longer flights with layovers. However, this isn’t always the case, so it’s worth experimenting with different combinations on the flight search engines.
Open Jaw Flights: An open jaw flight is a type of multi-city trip where you leave from City A, travel to City B, then travel overland (or with a different airline) to City C before returning to City A. This can sometimes offer cost savings, especially if the cities are close together or well-connected by budget airlines or other forms of transportation.
Other Money-Saving Strategies
Book Directly With Airlines: Once you’ve found the best flights via a search engine, consider booking directly with the airlines. This often guarantees the best prices and customer service, particularly if any issues arise with your booking.
Mix-and-Match Airlines: Don’t limit yourself to one airline for your entire itinerary. By booking one-way flights with different airlines, you may be able to take advantage of the best deals each airline offers.
Consider Flight Classes: If you’re on a long-haul flight, booking different cabin classes for different legs of your journey could potentially save you money.
In conclusion, booking multi-city flights doesn’t have to be stressful or excessively expensive. With the right tools and strategies, you can secure the best deals and enjoy your multi-city adventure without breaking the bank. Happy travels!
Frequently Asked Questions about Booking Multi-City Flights
1. How far in advance should I book my multi-city flights?
Generally, it’s best to book flights 2-3 months in advance for domestic travel and 5-6 months ahead for international flights. However, these are just averages. Prices can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including the time of year, destination popularity, and airline-specific pricing algorithms. Utilizing flight price tracking features on platforms like Google Flights or Skyscanner can keep you informed about price drops or rises, helping you snag the best deal.
2. Are multi-city flights always more expensive than round-trip flights?
Not necessarily. The cost of multi-city flights can sometimes be comparable to, or even cheaper than, round-trip flights, particularly for long-haul journeys with layovers. It’s worth comparing different combinations (round-trip, multi-city, or one-way flights) on flight search engines to find the best prices for your specific itinerary.
3. How can I make my multi-city booking process less complex?
Planning your route effectively can simplify the booking process. Make a list of your destinations, prioritizing them based on factors like flight prices, travel advisories, and your personal preferences. Then, input your itinerary into various flight search engines to find the best combinations and deals. Also, be open to adjusting your plan based on the results.
4. What if I need to change or cancel my multi-city flight?
Policies for changes and cancellations vary by airline. Some airlines may offer free changes or cancellations within 24 hours of booking, while others may charge hefty fees. It’s essential to understand these policies before booking. Additionally, consider investing in travel insurance that covers flight changes or cancellations, especially for complex multi-city itineraries.
Like any flight, multi-city itineraries can come with potential hidden charges. These could include baggage fees, seat selection fees, or charges for in-flight amenities. Always read the fare conditions and inclusions carefully. Booking directly with airlines can often provide clearer information about these potential charges.
6. How does the ‘open jaw’ concept work in multi-city flights?
An open jaw flight involves flying into one city, traveling overland (or with a different airline) to a second city, and then flying back home from there. For instance, you could fly from New York to Paris, take a train to Rome, and then fly from Rome back to New York. This could save money if your cities are well-connected by other forms of transportation or if there are cheaper one-way flights available between your destinations.
7. Are there any risks involved in booking multi-city itineraries on flight search engines?
Flight search engines are generally reliable for finding and booking flights. However, note that they are third-party platforms, and dealing with customer service can sometimes be more complex than booking directly with an airline. Also, booking different legs of your journey with different airlines could lead to issues if there are delays or cancellations, as one airline isn’t responsible for the scheduling of another. Always ensure you have adequate time between flights to accommodate potential delays.
8. What’s the most reliable way to find cheap multi-city flights?
Using flight search engines like Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, or Kiwi is a reliable way to discover cheap multi-city flights. These platforms allow you to compare prices across a variety of airlines and routes. Additionally, playing around with dates, times, and different combinations of departure/arrival cities can reveal the most cost-effective options.
9. Is it safe to book multi-city itineraries via Google Flights?
Yes, it’s safe to book multi-city itineraries via Google Flights. Google Flights typically combines flight options from airlines that are members of the same alliance and can be booked together. This not only allows for convenient scheduling but also helps ensure that airlines will accommodate you if there are missed connections due to delays.
10. Should I book flights directly with airlines or through third-party platforms?
After finding the best options using flight search engines, it’s often recommended to book directly with the airlines. This can often lead to better customer service if issues arise, and sometimes airlines offer the best prices on their own websites. However, third-party platforms can still be useful, especially if they offer special deals or discounts.
11. Can I save money by booking different flight classes for different segments of my trip?
Yes, it’s possible to save money by booking different flight classes for various segments of your trip. For example, you might opt for economy class for shorter flights and business class for long-haul flights. However, the actual savings will depend on the specific flights and airlines.
12. What’s the advantage of using ‘Incognito Mode’ when searching for flights?
‘Incognito Mode’ prevents flight search engines and airline websites from tracking your search history through cookies. Some sites may increase prices if you repeatedly search for the same flights, so using ‘Incognito Mode’ can help ensure that you’re seeing the most accurate and cheapest prices.
13. Are there specific times or days that are cheaper to book flights on?
Yes, the day of the week and the time of day can influence flight prices. Generally, flights tend to be cheaper when booked mid-week and during off-peak hours. However, this can vary depending on the route and airline, so it’s worth comparing options.
14. Can mixing and matching different airlines for my multi-city itinerary save me money?
Yes, booking one-way flights with different airlines allows you to take advantage of the best deals each airline offers, which can lead to significant savings for your multi-city itinerary.
15. How does flexibility in travel dates contribute to finding cheaper multi-city flights?
Having flexible travel dates allows you to take advantage of price variations that occur due to differences in demand on specific days or periods. You may find cheaper fares by adjusting your travel dates a few days earlier or later. Tools like Google Flights’ Price Graph feature can help visualize how fares fluctuate over time.
16. Is it cheaper to book a round-trip ticket to one city and then book separate flights to other cities?
It can be, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Sometimes booking separate flights could end up being cheaper, especially if you’re using budget airlines for the smaller legs of your journey. However, it can also be more complicated when it comes to dealing with flight changes or cancellations. It’s best to compare all options before deciding on a strategy.
17. Can using reward points or frequent flyer miles help reduce the cost of multi-city flights?
Yes, using reward points or frequent flyer miles can significantly reduce the cost of your multi-city flights. These can be used to upgrade your flight class, pay for entire flights, or even cover extra fees, depending on your airline’s reward program. It’s crucial to understand your program’s terms and conditions to utilize these benefits effectively.
“Hidden city ticketing” is a strategy where a passenger books a multi-stop ticket but intentionally doesn’t complete the final leg of the journey. This can sometimes result in a cheaper overall fare, as airlines often price tickets based on demand rather than distance. However, this practice is against most airlines’ policies and can result in penalties if detected.
19. Is it beneficial to consider alternate airports when booking multi-city flights?
Absolutely. Considering alternate airports can open up a wider range of flight options and potentially cheaper fares. Larger cities often have multiple airports, and flights to less popular airports can sometimes be less expensive. Always consider transport costs and times to and from these alternate airports to ensure it’s cost-effective.
20. Does the sequence of cities visited affect the price of multi-city flights?
Yes, the sequence can significantly affect the price. The cost depends on factors such as the distance between cities, the popularity of the route, and the airlines operating on those routes. It can be beneficial to experiment with different sequences when planning your multi-city trip.
21. Can booking flights during the off-peak season result in cheaper multi-city flights?
Yes, traveling during the off-peak season can often result in lower airfare as there is less demand. Keep in mind that off-peak seasons can vary based on the destination due to factors like weather and local events.
22. Are there any useful mobile apps that can help find cheap multi-city flights?
Yes, apps like Hopper, Skyscanner, and Kiwi are particularly useful for tracking flight prices and alerting you when prices drop. These apps can help you find cheap multi-city flights by comparing various airlines and suggesting the most economical options.
23. Is there a difference in fare between weekday and weekend flights?
Generally, flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be cheaper than flights on weekends. However, this can depend on the specific route and airline. It’s best to compare flight prices across different days to find the most affordable option.
24. Do last-minute flight deals apply to multi-city flights?
While last-minute deals are more rare with multi-city flights compared to single destination flights, they do occasionally occur. However, banking on a last-minute deal can be risky, as prices may also increase substantially. Unless you have a high tolerance for uncertainty, it’s generally advisable to book multi-city flights well in advance.