It’s been said that life is short, and there’s lots to see in the world. For this precise reason, “open jawing” your next flights can be the perfect solution to cramming as much as possible into a short amount of time. With limited vacation time, an open jaw allows travelers to take in two or more cities without backtracking, spending as much time as they wish in each. It’s a really simple concept and if you draw an open jaw with two lines, it’ll make perfect sense to you.

An Open Jaw Is

An open jaw is a flight itinerary arriving into one place and departing from another. Like flying from New York to Paris, but returning to New York from Amsterdam. Rather than backtracking back to Paris after seeing Amsterdam to catch your flight home to New York, you simply buy a one way ticket between Paris and Amsterdam, and leave from Amsterdam for your flight back to New York. It keeps things moving and requires fewer flight segments. Just three flights, versus four. Easy, right?

Why It Matters

You’re able to save a segment – and wasted time. If you flew from New York to Paris round trip, and wanted to see Amsterdam on the side, you’d need to book a round trip between Paris and Amsterdam in the middle. By open jawing, and just needing a one way flight from Amsterdam to Paris, you’re saving yourself backtracking, an extra flight and generally… time and money or points. Sometimes, you can book these open jaws for no additional fee, even on your original booking. Like these gems.

Double Open Jaw

Some people love to really spice things up with a double open jaw, where you depart from one city, fly into another, out of another and return to yet another. This can be brilliant when you’re somewhere you might not usually be, and can simply return to your final (home) destination. A good example would be like flying from Washington DC to Los Angeles, back from Seattle to New York. Again, in this example, you’d just connect the dots between Los Angeles and Seattle, with a separate one way flight using cash or points.

How To Book Open Jaw Flights

Booking an open jaw is often easy, especially if you figure out that two cities are currently on sale. We used the Paris/Amsterdam examples, because as of writing, you could open jaw flights from the US to one and out the other for less than $400 round trip. To book one of these you use the multi city booking tool, rather than just round trip. So for the example above, you’d search multi city on any booking or airline site, enter Atlanta to Paris for the first flight, then on the next line you’d enter Amsterdam to Atlanta. You could also try Atlanta to Paris, then Paris to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Atlanta, to see if you can get the internal flight included for cheap. If not, just book it separately with cash or points. Always compare prices before booking.

This Works Using Points Too

Yes! You’re catching on. Open jawing with points is awesome. No one likes backtracking, and booking open jaws with points is virtually identical to booking with cash. Just find available seats for the open jaws you’d like to take and try to book online. If the airlines website doesn’t support open jaw “multi city” booking with points, simply call up the airline, feed them the flights and price it out. You’ll do best to use airline programs which charge by distance, rather than by segment. Even on a cash booking like the examples above, using points to cover the short flight in between the longer ones can be a steal. Between Paris and Amsterdam would be just 4,000 points one way, using many frequent flyer points.

Have you “open jawed” any of your trips?