EVERYTHING ABOUT STOPOVER FLIGHTS & HOW THEY WORK
I love, love, love the stopover method, it is one of the easiest and flexible ways to maximize your travels. It’s perfect for those with limited vacation time because with a multi-city flight, at no additional cost you can cover more ground in a single vacation, without spending extra money.
Let’s say you only have ten days a year to go on vacation. If you take then all at once, it limits you to one long distance destination per year. But, thru a stopover flight, you can split the same ten visiting two different countries. Anyway, it will be the same amount of hotel, food and transportation days you would spend in a single place. Is like having two vacations for the price of one.
WHAT IS A STOPOVER FLIGHT?
A stopover flight is the same as a multi-city flight but without the additional cost. It is not to be confused with a layover, these are typically a connecting flight between two cities, and won’t exceed the 23-hour limit. A stopover exceeds this limit for the purpose of staying longer and touring the connecting city at no extra charge. Normally you would have to pay each connecting flight if you would like to spend more than one day at each destination, as well as gathering all the right documentation. Airlines that offer stopover flights will provide you with a temporary Visa (if required) for the number of days you’ll be staying at the connecting city. After which, you can go back to the airport and hop on a flight to your final destination.
Different airlines have different ways of booking stopovers, as well as day limits. In this post, we’ll cover all the different options and how to book your first stopover flight.
HOW DO STOPOVER FLIGHTS WORK?
So, the majority of airlines don’t offer free stopovers, but the few that do have very attractive destinations worth exploring while keeping your itinerary flexible too. Meaning, that while booking your flight, you’ll have complete control (within a maximum of seven days) of how many days you want to spend in each place. You can also choose from your inbound or outbound flights when you want to do the stopover.
So, here’s a list of the airlines with possibilities of doing stopovers and how to book with them.
These guys are the biggest promoters of the stopover option encouraging its travelers to tour around Reykjavik at no additional cost, for a maximum of 7 days, and they’ll even throw in and Icelandic Stop Buddy to keep you company and show you around for a day.
How to book: On the airline’s website use their flight booking engine to search your flights and select the “Stopover” option.
JAL offers free stopovers thru their multi-city booking option. So, try to compare the “before & after” adding the stopover prices before booking. After adding the stopover, a slight increase in the rate often happens with this airline, in which case you’ll have to call the airline to finalize the booking.
How to book: On the JAL booking engine select “multi-city” and once it loads, select “add stopover.” You can choose from Tokyo, Osaka & Nagoya.
Singapore Air is another big advocate of stopover flights, making them 100% free and easy to book on the website’s search engine. The airline also understands that some customers might need extra encouragement. So, they have designed four stopover packages with different length stays and tickets to attractions. The lowest package starts from $40.00USD, includes a one-night hotel stay and return airport transfers, which is a pretty sweet offer.
How to book: On the airline’s website, go to the search engine and click
Emirates airline offers packages, including a complimentary visa to Dubai for stays of up to 36 hours, hotel transfers, breakfast, accommodations and various tours starting at $48 USD per night. But in my opinion, the booking system is a bit of a hassle, though. I like to do the bookings myself, but to book a stopover with Emirates airline, you’ll need to call one of their appointed selling agents.
Etihad operates flights to 90 destinations in 56 countries and offers a free stopover in Abu Dhabi. Unlike JAL, WOW and Icelandair there’s no clear specification on the search engine that you’re adding a stopover destination. So, when booking your flight, just to be safe, in a new tab, do the same search minus the stopover city to make sure the prices are equal. I tried it, and it worked for me, it made no difference in the price. Just keep in mind that the stopovers are for a maximum of two nights.
How to book: select the “multi-city/stopover” option on their search engine.
The company is trying to promote Finland as a destination offering free stopovers when connecting through Helsinki for a maximum of 5 nights. They also allow two stopovers, one each way.
How to book: select the stopover option on the airline’s booking engine
Ok, so AirFrance doesn’t quite fit the criteria here, because they don’t offer free stopovers, per se. However, when you book a multi-city flight doing a stop for a day or two in Paris, the price difference is around $65.00USD making it a doable stopover.
What makes this airline less than an attractive choice for me is their booking system, which in my opinion is a mess. When I tried their booking engine, I kept getting an alert that there were no available flights on my selected dates. I tried all sort of combinations until I gave up. I also find it shady that their website only displays flights by dates and without pricing. So, how do you know if you’re buying the cheapest flight?
How to book: The simplest & quickest way contacting the airline’s sales department
Just like AirFrance & Etihad, Turkish Airlines doesn’t advertise free stopovers. But, allows you to book a flight between Europe & Asia, adding a two-day stopover in Istanbul. Sometimes these flights have a moderate price increase, but often is the same cost as flying direct. Turkish also a offers a free tour of Istanbul for people landing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on a layover longer than six hours. Click here to learn more.
How to book: use the multi-city booking tool on the airlines booking engine.
Although the list of airlines offering free stopover flights is not long, there are other companies along the lines of Turkish, AirFrance and Etihad, that won’t charge you much extra when you add their hub cities to your itinerary. Sometimes it’s cheaper than flying directly because flights with long layovers are less appealing to people.
My recommendation is if you have flexibility try different routes through the airlines’ multi-city tool.
Here’s a list of airlines that function the same way.
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong|
|Malaysia Airlines||Kuala Lumpur|