Airline fares can be confusing; there are stopovers, connections, and open jaw awards. Understanding what each is and what is your airline’s frequent flyer program policy can mean you can maximize the value of your miles.
A connection ticket is when you book to fly between two destinations served via an airline hub. So flying from London to Beijing with Turkish airlines you will connect in Istanbul.
Alternatively, if you want to fly from Los Angels to London, you may have to go via New York JFK to get the dates you want.
In both of the above scenarios you have not chosen to stop in the connection city, it is just the way the airline routes work when you book a ticket between a pair of cities. Typically a connection is a stop in a city of 24 hours or less, where you have not requested the stop specifically.
One thing to remember is that you are not trapped in the airport during a connection, and depending on the length of stay, Visa requirements, and your passport you may be able to leave the airport and explore the local destination. Some airlines like Qatar and Turkish airlines offer you free tours of their hub cities when you have a long connection scheduled.
When you book awards that require a connection, you are normally booking just one award ticket, in the same manner, you would if you are purchasing the ticket cash.
Stopovers are similar to connections although it is you who requests the route and the length of the stopover. For instance, flying from New York to Bangkok, you could try and make a stopover in London.
Typically Stopovers are several days long and are your choice when making the reservation. In the above example, you could fly from New York to London, then spend a week exploring London, before continuing your journey to Bangkok.
Redeeming Miles with a stopover, can be a little tricky and depends on your frequent flyer program. Some airlines allow one or multiple stopovers, while others do not allow them at all, so you will have to check the fine print of your loyalty program. Bear in mind some airline programs allow multiple stopovers on the same award ticket.
Open Jaw tickets
An open jaw ticket gets its name because when you draw a simple version on a map, it looks like an open jaw.
For instance, if you are planning a trip to Europe from the US, to Europe. You may choose to fly out from Atlanta to Frankfurt, then explore Part of Germany, France, and Spain moving by train between these cities. Your trip would finish up in Madrid, and then you would catch your return flight from Madrid to Atlanta.
Typically Most reward Programs allow open Jaw awards although some do have restrictions, it is always worth checking the award policy of your frequent flyer program.
Airlines have different policies and allowances on award fare, getting familiar with your airline’s policy, and what it allows means you can maximize the value of your awards by including stopovers and Open Jaws if needed.