One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see airlines (ahem, Southwest) marketing direct flights like they’re non-stop. Don’t get suckered by airline lingo, especially here in the United States. A direct flight and a non-stop flight are not the same thing. Here’s how my good friend (and co-host of our weekly #TravelSkills Twitter chat) Chris McGinnis defines the two in his daily newsletter:
- Non-stop: A non-stop flight is just what it says: a single flight between two airports with no stops. Business travelers prefer non-stop flights because they are the fastest. Unfortunately they are usually the most expensive.
- Direct: While a direct flight might sound like a non-stop flight, it’s not. A direct flight makes at least one intermediate stop along the way to its final destination, but has only one flight number. So if you choose a direct flight between Atlanta and San Francisco you’d fly on one plane the whole way to SFO. But that plane would make a stop in, say, Dallas, or Denver, where it would drop off and pick up more passengers, like a bus. Due to these stops, direct flights can add an hour or more to your total travel time.
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