One of the least liked parts of travel for most travellers is sitting around in airports. If you’ve got a connecting flight, you could see yourself sitting in a boring airport transit lounge for hours on end. These kinds of layovers aren’t enjoyable and can make travel days draining and boring. To get around this we travellers often look for a direct flight and book it at extra expense. There is an alternative! You can turn your stopover into something a little more exciting by opting for a longer layover and getting out of the airport. This could mean seeing a new city or country for the first time. While some would argue that 24 hours or less in a city doesn’t really count, I say any glimpse you can get into a new location can be an enriching experience. Even just heading to a market or having a meal in a local restaurant can be a wonderful cultural snapshot.
Here’s how you can make the most of stopovers:
If you’re booking a flight with a connection, look for one that has a long stopover that will allow you time to see the sights of a city or even overnight in a hotel. Most flight search engines will allow you to sort flights by a number of different factors – price, duration, departure time etc but always default to price as the main sorting factor.
Here’s a step-by-step example:
I’m looking at a flight from Istanbul to New York City.
1) Note the price of the cheapest flight direct and with a stopover.
The price of the cheapest direct flight is $806 on Turkish Airlines. The price of the cheapest flight with one connection is $562 on Transaero with a four hour stopover in Moscow. Now, you could go for the direct flight and get it all over an done with, or penny pinch and sit in Moscow airport for four hours or you could play around an look for an interesting stopover that’s long enough to get out and see a city.
2) Sort results by duration of the flight.
Sort the results by duration of flight (or total journey time as Skyscanner calls it). Go to the last page of results to see the flights with the longest duration (i.e. the lengthiest stopover) and work backwards from there.
3) Look for flights that are comparable in price to the cheapest or most direct option but have a stopover you would be interested in making.
For $816 you can fly in the morning from Istanbul to London with an eight hour stopover in the afternoon, hop a short flight to Madrid to spend the night in a comfy bed and then fly out to JFK late the next morning. Lunch in London and dinner in Spain – what’s not to love?
For $756 you can fly Royal Air Maroc from Istanbul to Casablanca, arriving in Casablanca in the early evening and not departing until after lunch the next day. That’s almost 24 hours in Morocco you never had before!
Would you consider lengthening your travel day so that you can get out an airport and explore a city? You might just have a little fun while doing it!