I flew a long trip (> 900nm) but the first leg, where I had a full stop landing to pick someone up, was only 24nm away from my starting point. For the FAA, a cross country trip counts as > 50nm straight line distance from the starting point. How should I log this short leg of the greater XC trip? Just count it all as XC or just subtract the time of the short leg from the XC total in my log book?
The relevant regulation is in 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3):
Cross-country time means—
(i) Except as provided in paragraphs (ii) through (vi) of this definition, time acquired during flight—
(A) Conducted by a person who holds a pilot certificate;
(B) Conducted in an aircraft;
(C) That includes a landing at a point other than the point of departure; and
(D) That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.
(ii) For the purpose of meeting the aeronautical experience requirements (except for a rotorcraft category rating), for a private pilot certificate (except for a powered parachute category rating), a commercial pilot certificate, or an instrument rating, or for the purpose of exercising recreational pilot privileges (except in a rotorcraft) under §61.101 (c), time acquired during a flight—
(A) Conducted in an appropriate aircraft;
(B) That includes a point of landing that was at least a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
(C) That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.
Note that the rule under paragraph (ii)(B) is "a flight" that includes "a" point of landing more than 50nm from the point of departure. It does not specify that all points of landing must be further than 50nm from the departure point, or even that the first point of landing must be further than 50nm.
Since the overall trip was over 50nm, does the FAA allow you to consider that 24nm leg to be part a single overall flight? Unfortunately, the FAA doesn't provide a definition of "flight" in this context. However, it is generally accepted that short stops (to pick up a passenger, refuel, eat lunch, etc.) can be logged as part of a single flight.