Airline terms we think we know . . . but sometimes misuse

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By: Peggy Hattendorf – Travel Editor

Do you know the difference between a Non-Stop and Direct Flight?  And yes, there is a difference.

People often use the term, “I have a direct flight” with the assumption they are flying between Point A and Point B – with no stops. When in reality, a Direct Flight means a flight that will make a stop but passengers do not have to change planes.

A Direct Flight is distinct from a Connecting Flight which makes a stop and the passengers must change planes to continue to their destination.

The airlines use the term Change of Equipment to refer to a change of aircraft.  This occurs when a flight with a single flight number lands and changes the type of airplane – equipment – used before continuing on to its destination.

Don’t confuse a Stop-Over with a Lay-Over.  A Stop-Over is an overnight stay or possibly longer at a location en-route to your final destination. Example: Sydney > New York with a Stop-Over in Los Angeles.  A Lay-Over occurs when you have a ticket to a destination that has a required stop usually for a change of equipment (aircraft) or to refuel before continuing on to the final destination.



The following explains the variation between a Round Trip and a Circle Trip.

  • Most Round Trips go from Point A to Point B and back again. Example: Atlanta>Chicago>Atlanta
  • A Circle Trip involves more than a single destination but which returns to the initial point of departure. There are air segments from Points A to B – B to C and C to A. Example: Los Angeles>Denver>Albuquerque>Los Angeles

And finally – What in the (travel) world is a . . . Open Jaw?

A simple Open Jaw is similar to a circle trip but usually involves a surface or land segment from Point B to Point C.  It involves flying from one city to another but returning to the original city from a different place.  This involves an air segment from Points A to B – a land segment from B to C and a flight from C back to A, the original departure city.   Example: Fly from London to New York – then a land segment from New York to Boston – and a return flight from Boston to London.

These are handy airline terms to understand when booking flights with the summer travel season just a couple of months away.

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