The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Booking a multi-stop trip

Just as the cruise, tour, and hotel world seems [% 1285803 | | fixated on double occupancy %], almost all widely used airfare booking systems default to round-trip flights. Although that may work for a majority of travelers, one size does not fit all, and lots of travelers are interested in multi-stop trips.

One reader recently asked about a specific itinerary, but the question could apply to just about anyone: “I would like to travel from Ontario, California, to Raleigh, returning with stopovers in Atlanta and Minneapolis. How can I book these connections as one itinerary?”

Actually, it’s pretty easy, but the details depend on what sort of airline you’re flying.

  • Several low-fare lines price their best deals on a one-way basis, including AirTran, JetBlue, and Southwest. On those lines, just book your trip as a series of one-way flights.
  • Other airlines require round-trip purchase for their lowest rates, and you can book these on an airline’s own website, or with the online travel agencies. On Expedia, click on “one-way trips” under “Additional Options,” then, on the next screen, scroll “Flight Type” to “multiple destinations.” On Orbitz, click on “expanded search options,” then click the button for “multi-city.” On Travelocity, click “multi-destination” on the first screen. Most individual airlines offer similar options—just take a hard look at the options on the first screens.

“Metasearch” sites (sites that search other search engines) are a different story. Kayak has an option for multi-stop trips, but most of the others don’t.

Normally, multi-stop trips qualify for at least some form of round-trip pricing. The most typical requirements are (1) the usual advance-purchase and maximum-stay limits and (2) a Saturday-night stay at your most distant point. The total trip price is then supposed to be the sum of half-round-trip fares on each segment. The online agencies’ fare computations should provide for whatever such deals are available for your trip.

However, multi-stop ticketing has always entailed a certain amount of black art. You might be better off going through a travel agent who is knowledgeable about multi-stop ticketing tricks.

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From