With all of the terms and acronyms that swirl around the “travel hacking” community, I understand how the whole process can be confusing and/or made more complicated than it needs to be. Open jaws are one of those terms that often confuse people and hopefully I can shed a bit of light on what open jaws are and in which situations they may be advantageous.
What is an open jaw?
In the above photo you’ll see three examples of open jaws. An open jaw can be a flight from City A to City B and then back to City A from City C.
What are the benefits of open jaws?
Open jaws can be a great way to explore more without having to take the time to return to your original airport. For example, if you want to go to both London and Paris, a great use of an open jaw is to fly to one of those cities, make your own way to the other city and then fly back home, rather than having to return to the city you arrived at.
New York to London — Round Trip
New York to London — Returning from Paris (Open Jaw)
As you can see, the open jaw in the above example is the cheapest option. Why is this the case? As I’ve written previously, the UK tacks on a bunch of extra fees and taxes whenever you fly out of the country. With the open jaw, you’re flying out of Paris so you easily save $100.
Are open jaws legal?
You bet. Restrictions are slightly tighter when booking using miles, but this post is about paid tickets only.
Who are open jaws for?
This really depends on your goals and itinerary. In the above example, if my goal is purely to save money, taking the open jaw may not be worth it. Here’s why.
In order to get to your return flight, you’ll have to reposition from London to Paris. This can be done cheaply via the Eurostar train, which can be around EUR 60. Factoring in the conversion rate, the net savings may be only $20 so in my opinion, the open jaw savings isn’t worth the extra effort.
However, if you want to see both London and Paris, the open jaw is absolutely worth it. It’s easier and less of a hassle for you, and it saves you some money.
Open jaws are just another tool to have in the belt. They aren’t always worth your time, but they are certainly possible and can enable you to stretch your trip and see more of the world.
My favorite tools to search for flights with open jaws are: