Connecting Flights vs. Nonstops: Which is Cheaper
Published by Rick Seaney on August 8, 2017
Nonstops vs. Connecting Flights
You probably know you pay more for popular flights. Call it the convenience fee you pay for Friday and Sunday flights, for example, when you don’t want to travel on cheaper midweek dates. But did you know, there’s a convenience fee attached to certain routes, too? There is (often) but the money you save by avoiding nonstops in favor of connecting flights can sometimes be enough to make the inconvenience utterly worth it.
You do not alway save by taking a connecting flight instead of a nonstop, but it’s very common to save something. Sometimes just a little, sometimes as much as 50% – or more.
The following are real ticket prices found in May 2017 (here on FareCompare) for summer travel. Your prices may vary but this is a good guide to price differences by route.
Again, all were found on FareCompare.
Detroit to Seattle
- Nonstop: $359
- One stop: $296 – Save $63
Washington, D.C. to Seattle
- Nonstop: $420
- One stop: $340 – Save $80
Atlanta to Cancun
- Nonstop: $612
- One stop: $476 – Save $136
Keep this in mind when planning that next big trip.
Chicago to Rome
- Nonstop: $1537
- One-stop: $1089 – Save $448
New York to Seoul
- Nonstop: $1622
- One-stop: $1068 – Save $$554
Los Angeles to Paris
- Nonstop: $1739
- One-stop: $1053 – Save $686
The savings for individual travelers are hefty enough, but just imagine what a deal this can be for a family of four.
How to Find the Cheaper Route
Always compare airfares: Shop an airfare comparison site that shows prices for all airlines as well as prices for both nonstops and connecting flights. Once you see the savings (or lack of savings), it’s easy to make an informed decision. If the connecting flight is cheaper, decide if it’s worth the inconvenience of a longer travel day.
Connecting Flights – What to Do in Airports
In some cases, a connecting flight isn’t an inconvenience, it’s a plus. A few examples of stuff to do during a long or short layover in the airport.
- Break time for kids. Taking kids on a 10-hour flight can be more stressful than two shorter flights. Let them stretch their legs in the airport (many now offer play areas for children).
- Break time for adults. Domestic layovers can last up to four hours, plenty of time to catch up with a friend or relative over a meal. Today’s airports come with lots of services including yoga classes, massage spas and art exhibits. Even better, get up and walk; you’ll want to stretch those legs, too.
- Side trips. Layovers can be as long as 24 hours on some international flights which may allow for a quick tour of a city you might otherwise miss.
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