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Very soon I’m taking off on an annual(ish) trip with just my oldest daughter. We are going to ski, order room service, watch movies, swim, and spend time together the way we did before our lovely second daughter joined the family. Worry not for the littlest, she will be getting some good one on one time with Dad and my parents…AKA she will be spoiled to high heaven.
To book our flights to Colorado at the lowest saver award level, we had to book an itinerary with a connection coming and going. That is not a huge deal as it is just the two of us, but obviously, four flights for a long weekend trip isn’t as ideal as having just two nonstop flights. In fact, when I was talking about the trip with C a few days ago, she said please tell me there is just one flight to get there. Uh oh.
For the outbound flights, we have to stay with the connection as we are flying on an airline that doesn’t operate nonstops from Houston to where we are going. However, for our return flights, an opportunity presented itself to go from an itinerary with two flights to one nonstop flight since it is now available at the saver award level. That would mean just 2.5 hours in the air to be home instead of an itinerary that is closer to five hours long and inherently has more risk due to having a connection.
Most sane people would agree that a nonstop flight of this length is preferable to an itinerary with a connection and likely worth paying some sort of premium to book. However, I’ve been wondering exactly how much a nonstop flight is worth over one with connections, especially when children are involved.
For us to change the schedule we have now to the nonstop there is a $100 fee…per person. I have not jumped at the chance to spend $200 more dollars just to get on the nonstop, but I haven’t ruled it out either. If it were a $50 per person fee or smaller, I think I would have already pulled the trigger.
Playing into the equation of deciding between paying more for a nonstop or just keeping a connection is the simplicity of travel on the day itself, knowing we need to get home on time if possible as it will be a “school night”, and factoring in the likelihood of delays or cancellations on a nonstop vs. a flight with connections. If I were flying with my toddler instead of my eight-year-old I would lean towards saying an additional $100 per person is worth it, but I have not yet convinced myself of the same outcome with my second grader. Getting a toddler and all their gear locked and loaded on the plane is often the hardest part, so I’d pay extra to not do that twice.
If I had to put money to it, I’d say that on a family leisure trip, a nonstop flight is worth at least a $50 premium per person over one with connections because of how much easier your travel day will be and the reduced likelihood of problems. Unless you are working with a large budget, I’d say it is probably not worth much more than $100 additional per person unless there are extenuating circumstances such the nonstop making it possible to avoid a night of hotel somewhere, or avoid a missed day of school or work, or you have special difficulties getting from one flight to the next because of multiple car seats, or similar. In our situation, we are right on the line of it potentially not being worth it, but still within the realm of consideration, especially since there is school the next day and snow in the forecast.
While you may not always considering changing an existing itinerary, we all choose between different options when booking travel whether paying with miles or cash, and we sometimes have to decide paying more for the nonstop is worth it. I’m curious, how much extra would you pay to fly on a nonstop flight with your family vs. one with a connection? What factors play into your decision-making process?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.