Connecting Flights vs. Direct Flights, Which Is Cheaper?

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Connecting Flights vs. Direct Flights, Which Is Cheaper?

In this article, we shall look at connecting flights vs. direct flights to explore their different characteristics and find out which is more pocket friendly. As any regular air traveler would have noticed, the choice between connecting flight verse direct flight would have a significant impact on price, comfort, and length of the journey.

A direct flight is a flight from one location to another by an airline with no change to the flight or tail number.

The only stops one might encounter in a direct flight before getting to the final destination includes – refueling stop, technical stopover, disembarking of some passengers, or getting new passengers. A direct flight is sometimes confused with a nonstop flight, which is just what it is – a single flight between two airports with no stops whatsoever.

On the other hand, a connecting flight means it will take at least two different planes with different flight numbers to reach your final destination.

It requires passengers to leave the originating flight and board a different aircraft before ending their journey. For example, a passenger flying from Abuja to Washington might have to change planes in Frankfurt, London, or Doha before arriving in Washington.

So, Connecting Flights vs. Direct Flights, Which is Cheaper?

All things being equal, you will pay more for a direct flight than to change planes along the way in some airport. You are likely paying more on a direct trip for features like – arriving earlier and with all your bags and slightly more space in some cases.

Direct flights are more convenient and take less time; some people are willing to pay more for them. Airlines know this, so they demand more.

However, it is essential to factor in other expenses you might incur when considering the low price of a connecting flight over a direct flight. For example, if you are going to be at the airport for an extended period waiting on your connecting flight, you may have to purchase food and drink.

In some cases, you might be required to change airports between connecting flights – the transportation cost would also have to be factored into your decision. Despite all this added out of pocket expenditure, your connecting flight total expense is still likely cheaper than the direct flight.

Why Are Connecting Flights Cheaper?

The supply and demand theory also applies in the aviation industry; however, it is referred to as the spoke-hub distribution paradigm. One of the essential things to keep in mind is that airlines don’t price based on cost; they calculate their price based on demand on that route.

Direct flights are a gamble for airline operators because they demand constant passenger flow to maintain the route. This isn’t usually the case for shorter itineraries or flights to significant destinations – an example is the Abuja to Washington DC given earlier.

If an airline is going to offer a direct flight from Abuja to Washington, it needs to charge a higher fare to account for the risk of not getting enough passengers to fill up the plane.

Connecting flights solve some of the problems by channeling the traffic through the hub system. Instead of flying an empty plane from Abuja directly to Washington, airlines fly a full passenger plane to Lagos or Heathrow London and send the passengers to their connecting flight, where they can join other passengers or board a smaller plane for a short-distance flight.

For the airlines, this is a cheaper and more reliable system as it avoids the risk of direct routes with weak demand. And instead of flying longer routes with larger aircraft, carriers can fly short routes with a small plane to a hub and subsequently use larger and much fuller planes.

The Choice

From a passenger’s perspective, the supply/demand theory is simply a matter of convenience and choice. One sure thing is that a lot of people will pay more to fly direct. There is another segment of the population that is willing to make a connection if it means cheaper fares and forego some of those perks associated with a direct flight.

Even if a connecting flight will cost an airline more in logistics to fly, the airline’s revenue is based on getting as much revenue as it can on a flight, and that might mean pricing connecting flights less than direct flights.

There you go. You got your answer. Connecting flights vs. direct flights, the cheaper will most times be connecting flights.

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