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Do you sometimes find yourself confused by travel terminology? Join the club. One of the topics that baffles many travelers is the concept of stopovers, both what they are and how to use and benefit from them. A while ago, in a blog post I briefly touched on the topic of stopovers, but now it’s time for a more in-depth explanation, so let’s get to it. When you buy airline tickets, many airlines allow you to tack on a free stopover to your flight. Essentially, for the price of visiting one place, you get to visit two. When you have extra time, this is a great deal.
But it’s important to know the definition of a stopover. The most important thing to know is that it lasts more than 24 hours. You might think of this as a layover, so if you do, consider it a LONG layover. To avoid confusion, it’s best to think of a layover as a connection that lasts no longer than four hours for domestic flights and for international flights, under 24 hours.
Recently, some airlines are using the stopover idea as a marketing tool. You likely spotted this with Iceland Air. Flying Iceland Air and enjoying Reykjavik before heading to your final destination has become a popular choice. Iceland Air even has a stopover button on their site you can click on when booking your ticket. Doesn’t get any easier than that, but this is rare. Most airlines that allow them still don’t advertise this, so most people don’t know it’s even possible. And remember, stopovers are possible on domestic flights as well, not just international travel. Knowing it’s possible is one thing. Booking a stopover is another!
When I talk with people who add stopovers to their flights, they seem to prefer using Skyscanner because as a tool, it’s easy to search for stopovers and the various destinations where you can use them. The first step is to look at one-way or round-trip flights between your departure airport and final destination airport. When you see the various places you can connect through, these become your potential free stopover places. Here’s an example of a trip from San Francisco to Athens.
There are a few choices for potential stopovers in Zurich, Paris, or Amsterdam. The (+2) helps you spot long layovers and potential stopovers. If you want to check to make sure you’re also getting the best price on your flight, it can pay to start your search again using the multi-city journey option. This option appears on the Skyscanner homepage.
When you’ve got your sights set on a stopover and you can’t find anything that works for you, it could help to go old school and speak to an airline reservation agent. They might be able to find better prices and routes once they know what you’re looking for. You never know. You can also make stopovers when using your airline miles to book an award flight. I rely on my Juicy Miles award booking team for helping me with these. It depends on the airline rules, and that’s way too much for me to keep track of on a regular basis. But what if you’re not using an award ticket and all this Skyscanner type searching seems confusing, too. I recently enjoyed talking with the founder of a sorta new and very much improved online search tool dedicated to finding stopover flights. It is super easy to use, even for me :) That post will be coming along soon!
Are you someone who uses stopover options to your advantage? They sure do allow us to maximize our travel budgets and award miles. Let me know in the comments below.