When you are looking for cheap flights, you will often find that the best deals are not direct journeys. Although you can find non-stop flights for bargain prices, many of the lowest prices available involve stopping en route to your final destination. You will find the terms ‘layover’ or ‘stopover’ frequently used. Stopover vs Layover. The two may sound the same, but there are differences between them. You can enjoy a very different type of travelling experience if you know how.
The basic difference
In short, a layover is when you stop for a short time at a connecting airport on your way to your destination. The nuances can vary, but generally, people classify anything under 24 hours as a layover. The connecting time could be under an hour, half a day, or overnight, for example. A stopover is when the stop at a connecting airport is 24 hours or longer.
It is common to see a layover used as a catch-all term for any stop on a flight. After all, every stopover is a layover in some way. But not every layover is a stopover! The difference is important for frequent flyers and business travellers, and less so for holidaymakers.
Although airlines try to reduce connection times where possible, sometimes flight schedules can’t accommodate every traveller. If your connection is a once-daily departure that takes-off an hour or two before you arrive, you’ll have no choice but to have a long layover. Whereas a traveller who stays in the connecting city for a day or more when their airline could fly them out is taking a stopover.
Booking conditions will vary between layovers and stopovers. Airlines have different rules on whether passengers can spend points on journeys which are stopovers rather than layovers. They also limit the number of stopovers allowed on one booking.
For most travellers, the choice is relatively simple; do you want to stay in a city for a longer time or get going as soon as possible? When backpacking or doing a once in a lifetime month-long trip, the opportunity to take in a new location may be a bonus.
Those on a week-long summer holiday with an all-inclusive hotel awaiting them may want to make the most of their luxurious accommodation. As such, any extra time in an airport might is time away from buffet food and cocktails! However, both have their advantages and drawbacks.
If opting for a layover, you can relax a little more when you get to the connecting airport. Your checked luggage will be automatically transferred to the next aircraft. Depending on your route, you may need to clear customs before you can get to the terminal for your next flight.
From there, you are free to explore the airport, wander around duty-free, and grab food. If you have a layover that’s over 10 hours, but shorter than a day, definitely check out the city you’re in. For any connection longer than a few hours, our Long Layover Guide will help you think of things to do.
A couple of things to look out for when making bookings with layovers. Shorter layovers, in particular, can be risky in the event of flight delays. Though some layover flights involve staying on the same plane, the majority will require you to enter the airport and board a new vessel.
If your first flight of two gets delayed too long, you may miss your connection. Your airline will assist you with putting you on a new plane, but this will cause further delays for you. However, airlines typically won’t sell tickets with a connection time that is too short, so don’t worry too much about this.
Overnight layovers can sound like a great chance to get sleep before the next flight, but avoid them where possible. Many airports close down and don’t offer many amenities at night. If your layover is longer than a few hours but shorter than ten, you might think of leaving the airport to go to a hotel sounds ideal for grabbing your seven hours of sleep.
The reality is that you’d lose time at immigration. And getting to the hotel. Then getting back to the airport. Then needing to re-enter security for your connection hours before the departure. Check out the Sleeping in Airports website if an overnight is unavoidable.
A stopover can be seen as a preferable option when travelling on an already long trip. When you can stay for multiple days, they turn a regular break into a multi-city holiday! The clear benefit of this is the ability to visit a city or country that you otherwise might never go.
Crucially though, a stopover also won’t cost you much more money in airfares. In uncommon cases, the airfare for staying multiple days is the same as one, though usually there is a slight increase in price. Yes, you will need to pay for food and excursions. But weighed up against the cost benefits of having two holidays (or three if you stopover outbound AND inbound) you get fantastic value for money.
If you book your travel with certain airlines, you could even get a hotel included for your stop. That’s free accommodation! Some airlines include a transfer service, airport lounge access, meals, tours, and discounted tickets for tourist attractions too. Rules vary by airline, with limits on how many days a stopover can be.
You may be surprised to hear that some will allow a generous as five day stop for no additional fee with deep discounts for partnered hotels. Also, some airlines consider a layover as short as 8 hours worthy of a free hotel so be sure to check our Complete list of Airlines offering free hotel during layover post.
Stopover at Flynous.com!
Now you know the differences and advantages between layovers and stopovers, all you need to do is find the best flight deals. Luckily, we already do that every day for you… for free! Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to see the great deals we find, and sign up to our mailing list to receive the very best offers leaving from your area straight to your inbox.