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Is a Direct Flight Cheaper Than a Flight with Connections?

Jonathan Chum
Jonathan Chum


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If you are planning on flying somewhere, you would probably like to get there as quickly as possible. That is where a direct flight to be helpful. In a lot of situations, you should be able to reach your destination on a direct flight. On the other hand, there are certain situations where you may be given a flight with connections. What do these terms mean? 

A direct flight is a flight that will take you to your final destination on a single plane. In contrast, a flight with connections requires you to take more than one plane to get to your final destination. When you are booking your plane ticket, you should be able to clearly see if you are booking a flight with connections. At the same time, is a direct flight cheaper than a flight with connections?

The answer is that this is not always the case. We will cover: 

  • Why a direct flight should be cheaper than a flight with connections 
  • Why a flight with connections may be cheaper than a direct flight 
  • How you can tell if you are booking a direct flight or a flight with connections 

We will use all of our experience to guide you through this process, so take a look at our helpful tips! 

A Direct Flight Should Be Cheaper Than a Flight with Connections

On the surface, you would believe a direct flight should be cheaper than a flight with connections. That is because direct flights are usually shorter than flights with connections. Of course, there are some situations where you may board two or three planes even though the collective distance flown is less than a direct flight that goes from New York to Tokyo. Because direct flights should use less gas, they should be less expensive, right? 

Usually, this is the case. In a lot of situations, a direct flight is going to be less expensive than a flight with connections. On the other hand, that is not exactly how it works. 

A Direct Flight Is Not Always Cheaper Than a Flight With Connections

Even though a direct flight should be cheaper than a flight with connections, this is not always the case. That is because the algorithm that determines the price of a plane ticket is based on supply and demand. Therefore, the price of a plane ticket is not dictated by how much money that airline has to spend to operate it. Instead, the price of a plane ticket is dictated by supply and demand. The more people want that flight, the more expensive it is going to be. 

For example, flights in and out of smaller airports tend to be more expensive. There are fewer flying options at that specific airport. Therefore, the price of each individual plane ticket is going to be higher. Even though the flight might not be that long, there are a lot of people who want a seat, driving up the price.

Furthermore, keep in mind that international tickets are usually more expensive. Even though there is a chance that an international plane ticket could be direct, it is probably still going to be more expensive because that plane has to cross international borders. This could cost the airline additional money, which is passed on to the passenger. 

Finally, remember that the vast majority of people, if given the choice, are going to choose a flight that is direct. Therefore, there is more demand for flights that go direct when compared to flights that have connections. As a result, direct plane tickets could be more expensive because they are in higher demand. 

The Booking Process: How You Can Tell if a Flight Is Direct

Before you are ready to step on a plane, you want to know if that flight is going to be direct. You should be able to figure this out as you go through the booking process. When you use a booking engine to find your plane flight, it should display plenty of options to you. Then, you should be able to sort these flights to find the one you want. For example, you may want to sort these options by price from low to high. Or, you may want to sort them by the number of legs.

Usually, these booking engines will display the word “direct” beneath the options that are direct. Or, the booking engine should display “0 stops” underneath the flights that are direct. If the flight has connections, this number should change. For example, if there is one layover, the booking engine will probably say “1 stop” and provide you with the location of the layover. If the flight has two stops, the booking engine should say that, providing you with the location of each individual layover. 

In some cases, the layover destination may not be anywhere close to your final destination. Booking engines are usually trying to find layovers that will save you the most money. They may not necessarily make any geographic sense. For example, if you are flying from New York to Hong Kong and you have a layover in Los Angeles, this probably makes sense. On the other hand, if you are flying from New York to Miami and you have a layover in Dallas, this doesn’t necessarily make geographic sense. On the other hand, it may be the cheapest option the booking engine could find. 

Get Ready To Fly!

Ultimately, it is important for you to understand exactly where you are going when you book your plane ticket. This includes not only your final destination but also the location of any layovers. The vast majority of people are going to prefer direct flights. Even though flights with connections are often more expensive, this is not necessarily the case. Make sure you focus on not only the price of the ticket but also on the absence or presence of any connecting flights. This will help you make your travel plans accordingly.

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