When you are travelling to a long-distance destination city, having a layover or stopover can benefit you. Layovers are a nearly inevitable part of travelling internationally, which means many travellers often find themselves with a few hours to spend in an airport in between flights. While these short layovers might be a small inconvenience, longer layovers i.e., of more than 9 hours, can actually be an opportunity.
Thus, adding a long layover, also called a stopover (in case of longer duration), in between flights is one of the easiest ways to see more of the world in one trip. Also, you do not have to be a savvy traveller to do just that.
In this travel guide, we will take a look at how to create/add a long layover to your flight itinerary when booking.
Layovers and Stopovers in Between Connecting Flights
While most long-haul flights will typically include a layover in the itinerary, you can also add one at the time of booking your reservations. Also, with a little time and flexibility, adding a long layover into your journey is pretty much simple. But, if you look at its benefit, being stuck at an airport for several hours, say over 8 hours, you get to explore a new destination.
Typically, layover fights do not give you enough time to leave the airport and explore the city you are stopping in. On the other hand, a stopover can be anything from a weekend away to just enough time to have a bit of an adventure before boarding your next plane.
In many cases, a stopover flight is also considered cheaper than the airfare of a direct flight. Also, it might be cheaper still if you create your own itinerary rather than booking your trip all one-way tickets.
These are some other routes where it might make sense to add a long layover:
- Between North America and Europe or the UK, layover in Iceland or another large European hub like Zurich, Barcelona, or Amsterdam.
- En route to a smaller destination in Southeast Asia, layover in a larger hub like Hong Kong or Bangkok.
- Between North America and Africa, layover in a European hub like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or London.
- Between Australia and the East Coast of the US, layover in San Francisco or Los Angeles.
Airlines that Offer Stopovers for Free
There are a few airline carriers that offer free long layovers as part of an incentive program. This is done to bring new travellers onboard while increasing tourism traffic to a destination. Here, both the low cost airline carrier and travellers can benefit.
The Icelandair layover program is an excellent option. They have built a whole campaign around it. If you are flying between North America and Europe or the UK, you can stopover in Iceland for up to seven days, and at no extra cost for the flight.
Qatar Airways will allow a Doha layover for up to two days, and they’ll even give you a hotel for one or two nights. Just check their website ahead of time to see if you qualify for visa-free entry into Qatar.
You can also get a free Portugal stopover with TAP Portugal for up to five nights in Lisbon or Porto, or stay in Helsinki for up to five days when you fly round-trip with Finnair between Europe and Asia.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Layover City
Here are certain things to consider before you rush off to purchase that stellar deal.
Consider hubs or cities that allow long layovers. The ones with free tours or hotels can also help you save money on your long layover.
Choose your destination cities or countries that do not require a visa. You can check first to see if a visa is required. In certain cases, such as travelling to Doha, you can easily get a transit visa specifically for the stopover. However, you may want to avoid places like Russia that require an expensive visa.
Be sure that the city you select is easy to reach from the airport. You may also want to ensure you can get into town easily via public transit, like in London or Amsterdam. If it is an obscure airport on the outskirts of town, chances are this could be difficult and you may lose a lot of time and money transiting between the city and the airport.
If, for example, you are planning a trip during winter to Thailand, consider how the stopover jives with the rest of your trip. Or, would you really require a stopover in chilly Frankfurt and have a bunch of extra cold-weather gear?
If your layover is for an overnight, you will likely have the option to check your baggage all the way through or pick it up during your layover. However, if the layover is not for an entire day and you have booked on one ticket, you may have to collect your luggage after the first flight, or leave them checked through, unless you have made separate bookings. If you will have your luggage with you on a shorter connection, make sure the airport has storage facilities for your baggage. If the airport does not offer storage, check if there is a hotel in the area that will hold your luggage for a small fee.
In case your baggage is not checked all the way through, keep in mind that customs regulations vary by country. If you are bringing dairy gifts from Europe to friends in Australia but you have a layover in Guangzhou, make sure your bag is checked the whole way through. Dairy is not allowed through customs in China, so you will have to surrender all that produce, such as cheese, if you are re-checking your baggage.
How to Create or Add a Long Layover When Booking a Flight
Creating or adding a long layover in your flight itinerary is not at all difficult. If you cannot find a long layover for your itinerary, you can always try using flight search sites like Google Flights. It lets you make a general search for your final destination city. For example, you can look for a flight from the New York City to London.
You know you might be able to stop over in Iceland on the way there or back. If you’re flexible on dates but know you want to go sometime in May, first search for flights to and from London to find the best dates. Then search for flights to and from Iceland to get an idea of when those flights are the cheapest.
Once you have found the dates that offer the lowest prices across the Atlantic, move to a multi-city search. You will need to create searches, for example, you could search for NYC to Iceland, from Iceland to London, or from London back to NYC. Or you may also search for NYC to London, from London to Iceland, or from Iceland back to NYC.
You can simply try a couple of options and work around with the order and dates to find the best possible combination.
Google Flights packages this up nicely so that you can easily see the price for two or more separate tickets, but you may need to go to multiple websites to book.
You could also book a cheap open jaw flight (for example, NYC to London and then Paris back to NYC) and then book a separate flight (or train) ticket that gets you from London to Paris.
If you are looking for a cheaper option to visit another city on your trip, then adding a long layover or stopover is worth it. This can also help you save more on one trip than purchasing two one-way flights for visiting your desired destinations.