An open jaw is a return ticket where you book from one starting point out to a destination and fly home a different location to the same starting point.
You will have noticed that return flights are always cheaper than buying singles. Well, open jaw tickets allow you to buy single tickets, but at return pricing. They only work if you are flying out and back from the same zone of the world. Like my trip in part one, where I flew to and from South Africa.
You couldn’t, for example, book a ticket from London to New York as your outbound and Hong Kong to London as your return.
I’ve used open jaw tickets many times to travel around Asia and the Americas.
Here is a working example, let’s say you need to do a trip to Singapore and Tokyo, back-to-back. In this example, I’ve found prices in Premium Economy with British Airways for March 2023.
The return trip from London to Singapore is £2039.
The return trip from London to Tokyo is £1400.
The open jaw ticket for London to Singapore and then returning from Tokyo to London is £1600.
Note the ticket does not include getting from Singapore to Tokyo, more about that later.
How to book
For most airlines when you go to their booking page you have the option to book single, return or multi-city tickets, select this last option to begin.
On BA it’s called a “Multi-City & Round the World” ticket.
Once you are in here you can book many flights from any starting point to any finishing point. The BA website currently has a very dated-looking form to fill in:
Once you have completed the form it will take you to a more up-to-date-looking page. On that page, you choose your specific flights.
The good thing about the second page is you can mix and match cabins. So if you want to go out in Business but return in Premium Economy, that’s entirely possible.
Just make sure you start by selecting the lowest cabin you want to use on the first form.
Why not do a single booking?
I mentioned earlier that on this fictional Singapore/Tokyo trip I wouldn’t book the middle flight between the two. Whilst this is possible using the multi-flight booking, it will put your price through the roof. It is always best to book your main outbound and return legs as one booking. Then any interim trips as totally separate bookings.
But there are some risks with this method.
One of the reasons that the ticket price increases when you do a single book is the risk factor. If there is an issue with one of the flights, on a single ticket, the airline still has to get you to your final destination. When you book open-jaw tickets with a separate leg involved – even if you book on the same airline as the other ticket – you are taking the risk on yourself. If you miss your flight or get stuck somewhere (even if it’s the airline’s fault), then you have to sort things out yourself. Whenever I do open jaw flights like this, I make sure I have at least 24 hours of buffer time. This extra time gives you breathing room to make your final flight in the event something goes wrong.
As I always like to make sure I get my points and use my frequent flying benefits, I will always look for a One World airline in the region I am working in to fly with.
Choosing an airline for your connecting flight
For this example trip the obvious choice would be Japan Airlines, who are a One World member. I would get all my benefits, lounge access etc. I would also collect tier points and Avios for flying with them, as long as I declared my BA member number when booking. You can always add your membership number at check-in if you forget to add during the booking too.
It is possible to collect points after flying, but it’s slow and of course you’d miss out on all the benefits when actually flying!
There are other tricks you can use when you do trips like this, which can also help you get more points. Instead of flying JAL for my trip from Singapore to Tokyo, what if I used Cathay Pacific, another One World airline? Cathey are based in Hong Kong, so to do the trip I would need to stop over in Hong Kong, probably on a connecting flight. It would take longer, but it would give me more tier points and Avios as it’s two flights, plus I get to stop in Hong Kong which has a great airport with some very nice lounges.
On longer trips in the past I’ve used this technique to stop over in Hong Kong whole weekends, meaning I get to visit friends and pop into a certain Disney park on my weekends, but that’s a whole different blog.
Open-jaw tickets are extremely powerful tools to use when you need to visit multiple destinations.
Oh, and you can usually do them with points too!