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Stopover And Open-Jaw Explained

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Pretty often when we book your flight tickets, visit some travel website we come across these strange words: “stopover”, “layover” and “open-jaw”. So what is it? The post is about bring some light on the shadow of these amazing benefits and who you can benefit from it on your trips and vacations.

Firstly, it may be a little bit confusing as booking tickets with “stopovers” and “open-jaws” call for some pro-techniques, but as soon you will understand the logic you will be amazed how beneficial and, simply, cool it is and on the other hand you may be frustrated as you could visit and see more countries/cities during your past trips.


Layover – is referred to a “spending” your time at airport waiting for another flight to your final destination. Under 24 hours.

Stopover – is referred as long layover, with times over 24 hours.

Open-Jaw – is referred as a “gap” between you final destination and your departure on your return ticket. Or simply different arrival and departure (on return leg) airports on your flight ticket.

Flight leg – is the distance between departure and arrival. Imagine a flight is going from London to Frankfurt to Chicago. London-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Chicago are the legs.

Example of Stopover

stopover in Madrid – courtesy of GCMAP
stopover in Madrid – courtesy of GCMAP

In this example our departure airport is Atlanta (ATL) with destination to Paris (CDG) airport and with stopover in Madrid (MAD) airport.

Stopover can be either on first leg of a flight or on return.

Stopover can be as long as you want unless it is not too far in advance.

Stopovers are free on your award tickers (booked with miles and points). So it means on one trip you can visit other interesting country(ies) and city(ies) by the means of one award ticket.

Though, every single airline has different allowances in terms of stopover.

Example of Open-Jaw

Open-jaw between Paris (CDG) and Madrid (MAD) airports – courtesy of GCMAP
Open-jaw between Paris (CDG) and Madrid (MAD) airports – courtesy of GCMAP

On this example it is still one award ticket, but with open-jaw between Paris (CDG) and Madrid (MAD) airports and vice versa. Basically a “gap” between your arrival and departure airports on your return leg, which you would need to fill by yourself.

These award booking scheme can be useful for those who have cruises departing and arriving to different ports, for those who want to explore several countries at a time (by bus, car, train) etc.

How to book stopovers and open-jaws

There are 2 main options : Online and By Phone.

But you need to keep in mind these factors:

  • Does airline allow stopovers and open-jaws?
  • How many stopovers and open-jaws allowed on one award flight by terms of airline?
  • Does airline allow multi-city award booking online?

If you cannot book online – you can always call airline and ask agent to book your itinerary, but do NOT forget to mention your DEPARTURE and DESTINATION airports, for agent to book everything properly.

List of airlines stopover and open-jaw rules and allowances

These are examples of airlines allowances – you can check with your airline but checking their website or just calling representative.

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Bottom line

This is very short and basic description of these amazing benefit and scheme to expand your trip and planning it more precisely. As, simply, on one award ticket you can see way more! Some airlines, as you can see, allow pretty complicated award flight booking with several open-jaws and stopovers. But it calls  for cold planning and strategy, but it can be super handy for you as you have ability to see A LOT!

Good luck with planning and enjoy your vacations/trips/getaways.

H/T: Miles for Trips

Here is an amazing infographics from Drew Macomber from TravelisFree blog to give you the picture of Stopover and Open-Jaw.


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