A direct flight is a voyage in an aircraft that leaves the original airport and arrives at the destination airport without stopping at any intermediary airports. Direct flights tend to be more expensive that non-direct flights. They are also more convenient and typically reduce travel times. Direct flights are not available between all cities. Some airlines consider a direct flight any flight where passengers do not change aircraft, even if the plane does touch down before arriving at the destination.
Also called non-stop flights, direct flights are not necessarily for the budget-minded traveler. In today’s difficult economic climate, yesterday’s aviation conveniences have become quite the luxury. In flight meals, check-in, and even carry on bags add extras to the bill. Most companies allow no flight changes without tacking on a hefty fee, even if changes are made weeks before takeoff. Since most travelers would prefer a direct flight, they too come with an additional price tag.
Frequent flyers, families with small children and people who fear flying, really appreciate direct flights. In general travelers get to their destination faster than with connecting flights, since there are no layovers, missed planes, or added delays. Once a traveler is in the plane, they only need to find their seats and load their baggage into the overhead compartment once. Eardrums only pop once going up and once going down, which is easier on the head and the heart. International travelers do not need to worry about collecting their bags and going through customs multiple times.
There are no guarantees that a direct flight will be available between two airports. Typically larger cities and airline hub cities have the most direct flights. Smaller, less frequented airports have fewer direct flights, especially as companies have reduced their flight patterns in order to cut costs. Longer flights may not be available as direct connections, as airplanes may need to be refueled or the flight crew might need to be relieved.
When purchasing airline tickets, travelers should be aware that not all companies define a direct flight in the same manner. Certain companies consider a flight direct if there is no change in flight number, even if the plane does touch down at an intermediary airport. Most companies will provide this detailed information in fine print somewhere on their website. Possibilities for reimbursement if the plane must land before the destination should also be available online or by contacting the company directly.