Stopover flights, layovers, connecting flights, transit flights – whatever you want to call em! They can really come in handy, especially when you’re looking for a low-cost flight option. You can save hundreds of pounds by simply stopping over in another country for a few hours before jetting off to your desired destination. For example, a direct flight to Thailand could cost £500 on average, whereas a flight to Thailand with a stopover in Dubai or China could cost around £350. Stopover flights also give you the opportunity to make your trip a 2-in-1 holiday by touring around the country you’ve stopped over in (provided you have enough time).
You can benefit loads with a stopover flight, however, it is very easy to make a few mistakes which could end up being quite costly. Before you get to the airport to catch your flight with a stopover, below are key things you should know and/or prepare for:
1. Make sure you’re at the right airport
As simple as this point sounds, it’s probably one of the main reasons people miss their connecting flight. You’ll be quite surprised at the number of people who have missed their connecting flight because they assumed it was in the same airport they were dropped off at. My dad had a connecting flight in Paris on his way back from Ohio, he landed at Charles De Gaulle thinking that was where his 2nd leg of his journey to London was departing from – but it was actually departing from Paris Orly airport which is quite a distance from Charles De Gaulle!
Whilst it can be an easy mistake to make, it can also be quite stressful and costly! Make sure you KNOW (and not assume) which airport your connecting flight will be departing from.
2. Make sure you have enough time to connect to your other flight
This is important especially if you have booked a split ticket (e.g. connecting ticket with a different airline e.g 1st leg with Virgin Atlantic and 2nd leg with Delta). Going through security can be incredibly time-consuming and if you get to the airport late this is often one of the things that can make you miss your flight – so you’ll need to take this into consideration when booking connecting flights.
If the connecting flight is with the same airline, they may have stewards guiding you to your connecting flight and maybe speeding up the process a little. However, this is not guaranteed so make sure your layover time is enough for you to go through security.
3. Be prepared for luggage delays
If you have a really short stopover time AND you have checked-in luggage – be prepared for luggage delays when you get to your destination. During our trip to Thailand we had a 1-hour layover in Beijing, due to it being a short time span our bags didn’t make it onto our connecting flight (heck, we almost didn’t make it to our connecting flight!) Whilst this may not be the case for all connecting flights it is a possibility, so it’s good to prepare for situations like this which brings me to my next point
4. Pack emergency items into your hand luggage
Delayed luggage, lost suitcases, stolen items, missed flights etc. As much as these situations suck they can happen so it’s always good to have ‘back-up’ in your hand-luggage. There’s nothing worse than completing a long-haul flight to finding out one of the above has happened to your suitcase and you literally have NOTHING. Nothing to shower with, nothing to change into. Pack one or two ‘change of clothes’ into your hand luggage, as well as underwear, toiletries, medication and valuables just in case!
5. Know the entry requirements
If you’re looking to have a bit of a wander in your layover destination, it is important you check the requirements for entry into that specific country. The worst thing you can do is to NOT do any research, get there, try to enter the country (bare excited as well) and then get denied by immigration because you don’t have what they require. When we had a 10-hour layover in Beijing, we didn’t need a visa as we wouldn’t be there long – however, we did need to apply for a ’72-hour visa-free transit’. And as easy as it sounds, it really wasn’t – we needed to provide an invitation letter and an itinerary of what we were going to do in Beijing to ensure we weren’t going to stay forever. DO YOUR RESEARCH!