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Many people are under the impression with good reason that the words Direct Flights and Nonstop Flights or Non Stop Flights are completely interchangeable terms.
The reality however is that the terms Direct Flights and Nonstop Flights contrary to popular belief do not mean the same thing. They are in fact different type of flights.
Direct Flights - often believed to be the same as Nonstop Flights
Although a Direct Flight may sound like or may be believed to be a Non Stop Flight a direct flight technically doesn't have to be nonstop. A direct flight may make at least one stop along the way to its final destination (sometimes even more than one) but it only has one flight number and may or may not even require you to exit the plane during the stop. The stop may be to pick up additional passengers or to let some passengers off or may be a fueling or technical stop. It is important to keep in mind that the actual term "direct flight" in the United States is not legally defined but since around the 1970's the Official Airline Guides have defined the term as a flight(s) with a single flight number and today the term non stop and direct flight is sometimes being used almost interchangeably in the States.
Nonstop Flights- often believed to be the same as a Direct Flight
A Nonstop Flight is just what it says it is a single flight between airports that does not stop. Usually it is business travelers that desire nonstop flights most as they are usually higher priced flights (not always) because they are the fastest way to get from point A to point B.
This brings us to connecting flights which differ from both non stop flights and direct flights because a connecting flight will take at least two different planes with two different flight numbers to reach your final destination.