Adding a stopover to your next trip could add a mini-vacation for little to no additional cost.
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What Is a Stopover?
Many flights feature a connection, sometimes in places you’ve never visited before. Have you ever wanted to just step out of the airport and check out your connection city?
Maybe you’re flying from Los Angeles to Barcelona with a connection in Paris. You’ve never seen the Eiffel tower but certainly can’t leave the airport and return (with security and customs) during your three-hour connection.
If you use a stopover, you could spend a day, even a week in Paris en route to Barcelona with your same purchased ticket. Stopovers may add some nominal cost – more on that later.
A stopover is extra time intentionally booked with your airline ticket at a connection city.
When Are Stopovers Free?
Some really smart countries incentivize national carriers to allow stoddddpovers for free. Portugal, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Singapore are just three of many countries that allow free stopovers in their countries without charging extra for the airline ticket.
Countries that offer this incentive are banking on a few things. If they make the stopover free, passengers are likely to take advantage of them. In doing so, passengers will spend money in their economy from taxis to restaurants and even hotels. They will also see more of the country and are more likely to return for a longer stay.
Turkish Airlines offers business class customers a free two-night hotel stay in a five-star hotel or a one-night stay in a four-star hotel for economy passengers on any stopover greater than 20 hours.
Singapore Airlines adds additional features for an extra charge but also applies some instant discounts. For example, airport transfers may be added for about $30 USD ($41 Singapore Dollars – SGD.) For a little more ($45 USD, $63 SGD) you can add free entry to 20 attractions and meal discount vouchers in addition to the transfer.
Qatar Airways allows free stopovers in Doha, and adds discounts for a hotel stay in connection with the purchase of a ticket as Singapore Airlines does so long as the stopover is at least 12 hours or longer.
Many stopover programs are free but arrangements must be made by your travel agency in advance and may add additional cost for the stay itself. Award flights booked using frequent flyer miles may also offer free stopovers.
How Should I Use a Stopover?
Booking a stopover for more than 24 hours allows travelers to see something unique on their way to their destination, or in some cases, it functions more as a multi-city ticket.
For example, in Europe most alliances have multiple hubs. Oneworld has hubs in:
- London (British Airways)
- Madrid/Barcelona (Iberia)
- Dublin (Aer Lingus)
- Helsinki (Finnish Airlines)
If a traveler wanted to see London, Paris, and Barcelona on the same trip they could book stopovers in London and Paris on the front and back end of the trip with Barcelona as a final destination.
United Airlines allows an “excursionist” perk on its award flights allow you to add on additional flights within the destination region (in this case, Europe) for just $100 each. More on why you should pay attention to your miles and points for award flights here.
Stopovers are generally very inexpensive, adding just $50-100 on tickets for which they are permitted. I generally like to use stopovers when I am in a city I have not seen before but am not sure I want to visit as a destination. Spending 24 hours in Singapore may just convince me to come back and explore further, or it may help me cross it off the list for now.
If you have the flexibility in your travel plans, you should certainly add one to your trip.
Before considering any stopover it’s important to check with your travel agent to read the rules of the fare. Once a ticket is purchased, a passenger has, in essence, agreed to the terms of the ticket and not all tickets permit stopovers. Some additional terms may apply.
Want to see a sample itinerary using a stopover? Contact us and get a no-obligation itinerary customized for you. We can select dates that are convenient for you, flights to and from your home airport, hotel preferences, and even dining choices. Contact one of our concierges today!