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Generally, multi-city air fares are much higher than round trip fares. Let's say I'm getting these flights (A->B->C->B->A) and I am staying in first B and C. It is actually a round trip with additional stay in first B. How can I get the best deal on this journey?

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You may find this useful: What are the “rules” for multi-city flights? –  Mark Mayo Dec 12 '12 at 8:42
Also, some airline companies also have nice practices, e.g. Icelandair if one of your stops is Reykjavik where you can spend some days between two flights (mostly for transatlantic flights). –  Vince Dec 12 '12 at 20:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is really no 'trick' to this type of travel. If you want to book this as a single itinerary then the only 'trick' is to go to as many booking sites (brokers and airlines) as you can manage and do price comparisons. It helps to have some flexibility in the dates.

If you don't mind booking multiple tickets, probably the best deal on this trip will be to buy two round trip tickets. First A->B->A and then, separately, B->C->B with the latter ticket being within the time you spend in city B.

The main issue with this is that these are independent tickets. If flight A->B is delayed, causing you to miss B->C then you are responsible for buying a new B->C ticket.

Since you plan on staying in B before proceeding to C, this will only be a problem on your return journey where a delay in C->B can cause you to miss B->A. Ideally, you should split your stay in B to ensure against this. At minimum ensure that you have 3+ hours stopover on the way back (more if the flight B->A is an expensive one).

Lastly, it is worth pricing individual flights from A->B, B->C and C->A. Typically, you wont save any money over two round trip tickets, but sometimes it may wind up only costing a little bit more and you get a simpler leg C->A. This will vary depending on what cities A, B and C are and how they relate to each other. Also if an airline has its hub in A and offers flight to both B and C (but has no flights between B and C) they may sell you a return ticket with the legs A->B and C->A.

This all depends on what cites A, B and C stand for. I did a trip like this recently where A was Reykjavik, B Washington D.C. and C San Francisco. It wound up being simplest to book A->B and C->A (via Seattle actually) as a return ticket with one airline and then B->C as a separate one-way ticket with another airline. Doing it this way was actually a bit cheaper (although only a bit) but the flight home via Seattle was much shorter then to go back home via D.C.

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Another option that doesn't appear to be mentioned is to book a round-trip ticket from A->B, and a round trip ticket from B->C. The result is that you have an A->B->C->B->A flight with two return tickets, which often works out cheaper than booking one-way tickets or segments (in Europe/Australia/USA, not so much in South America, however).

If it's getting complicated, a travel agent or Flightfox (crowd-sourced expert search engine) might do it for you, as they generally have more knowledge on how to lower the prices and what's available. Of course, they'll also charge you for the service :/

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You might also try booking a single A->B flight, and then combined B->C->A (if you are not really stopping in B on the way back).

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