Flight Booking Terminology

When browsing various travel-related sites, it is not uncommon to see terms like “stopover” and “open-jaw” thrown around. Along with the term “layover” all three express different levels of flexibility in travel, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of them. I also mention some more uncommon airline acronyms that are frequently used at sites like FlyerTalk.

Layover

We’re all familiar with the infamous layover – also referred to as a connection, among other things. As the name implies, it is when you route through another city to reach your destination. Usually these are short stops, but it is a good idea to check flight histories on FlightAware to make sure you have enough time to deplane and get to the next gate on time. I like to give myself an hour and a half to account for stretching as well as potential delays, to be safe.

Stopover

A stopover is essence a longer layover, and it is often easier to book them as two separate flights. These offer travelers the flexibility to leave the confines of the airport and explore their connecting city. If you have the ability to use multi-segment booking with the airline of your choice, it is advisable to use that feature as if your inbound flight experiences problems, you will be rebooked on subsequent flights seamlessly (usually!). Some airlines will let you add notes between Passenger Name Records (PNRs) to allow an agent to be aware that one trip is linked to the other.

Open-Jaw

An Open-Jaw ticket is one where you fly to one city and return from a different one. This allows you the flexibility to arrange the intermediary travel however is most convenient to you. These are particularly popular for within the European Union given the ease of transit between countries and the inexpensive use of British Airlines Avios as it is distance based.

One example is to book a flight from Boston to Paris, and the return from Rome to Boston. You would then book the travel between Paris and Rome separately – maybe by train, plane, renting a car, and so on. This is popular with international travel given the range of prices that you might encounter when flying to and from certain cities, and the ease of travel once within a country.

Other Terms

FlyerTalk has a wonderful glossary that they have maintained over the years, but I’ve listed some important terms to keep in mind (specifically for interruptions) below.

  • IROPS / IRROPS: Irregular Operations – see OSO
  • OSI: Other Supplementary Information- PNR field, can hold a TCP note
  • OSO: Off Schedule Operations – flight changes and schedule disruptions
  • PNR: This is commonly referred to as your confirmation number. Airlines use a 6 character combination of letters and numbers as a shortcut to your itinerary. Other information can be tied to your PNR, such as special service requests. A full list of fields can be found here.
  • TCP: To Complete Party – a note indicating passenger is traveling with another, etc.,  but on two separate PNRs

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