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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Stopover Flights

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Are you planning to travel abroad soon? After all, vaccination rates are up, borders are reopening and with them the prospect of traveling internationally and building precious memories once again. Now, what if we told you that you could explore two of your favorite destinations for the price of one? Does it sound too good to be true? Well, that’s exactly what you can do when you book a stopover flight with specific airlines! 

From the mighty geysers and volcanoes of Iceland, the craft beer bars of Belgium, and the majestic palaces of Porto to the shifting golden and red dunes of Abu Dhabi, it’d be a shame to miss out on unforgettable experiences at no extra airfare cost.  

If you’re curious and love a good adventure, a stopover flight might be just what you need! 

So, if you’re wondering what a stopover flight is and how to book one, keep reading as we tell you everything you need to know about stopover flights in this blog post. 


What Are Stopover Flights? 

When you’re traveling with an airline, any waiting period under 24 hours is usually considered a connection while anything above is considered a stopover. Now, stopovers usually incur extra charges resulting in more expensive flights and extra hotel room costs. And for travelers who can’t afford to book a hotel room, stopovers mean long hours of waiting in an airport for their next flight. No wonder many travelers try to avoid stopovers! 

Yet, savvy globetrotters know that stopovers can, in fact, be a fantastic way to maximize their travel experience. It all depends on the airline you’re flying with. Some airlines offer free stopover flights helping you maximize one single booking so that you can see more places for the same price. And as a bonus, a handful of airlines even offer a free hotel room for one to five nights and a free shuttle to take you there! 


How To Book a Free Stopover Flight? 

If you would like to stop for a day or two in a city on the way to your final destination, you can use flight apps such as Hopupon. These apps automatically add a stopover to your initial search to help you make the most of your travel. Their algorithm is designed to select flight stopovers based on the best fares available. While this is a great way to book stopover flights, fares might be a little more expensive due to the stopover. 

So, if you’re looking to book free stopover flights, there are two ways to go about it. The easiest way is to book with an airline that actively promotes its stopover program. The best airlines will even offer discounts on activities and tours, free hotel rooms, and free transportation. 

Depending on the airline, to book your stopover flights, you might have to click the ‘’multi-city flights’’ option and build your own itinerary. Then, you’ll need to check the stopover packages, or click the ‘’add a stopover’’ button. 

When you check out, the price of your flight tickets should be the same with or without the stopover.

The second way is to book free stopover flights is to use specific tools such as Skyscanner or Airporia.


Skyscanner

Skyscanner

With Skyscanner, you’ll first need to input your origin, final destination, and date in order to identify layover cities. Once you’ve got these, you can then use the ‘’multi-city tickets’’ option to find flights that offer stopovers in one of these at no additional airfare cost.   

Now, this is a great tool, but you still have to do some of the heavy lifting yourself. So, if you want to avoid that, use our Airporia Flight Search. 


Airporia

Airporia

Airporia looks for potential stopovers for you once you’ve run a search with your origin and final destination (don’t forget to click the red button to add stopovers). Instead of spending hours looking for potential cities you could stop over in, Airporia pulls them up for you within seconds. After all, it’s not called ‘’the ultimate stopover flight search’’ for nothing ;)  

As a word of advice, make sure you play around with the dates and period of stay to get the best fares! 

And to make it as easy as possible for you to book your next adventure, here’s a list of airlines offering free stopover flights for intrepid travelers. 


Finnair  

Finnair

Stopover City: Helsinki 

Finnair and VisitFinland have partnered to offer tourists stopover options ranging from 5 hours to 5 days in Helsinki on their way to their final destination. The idea is to make it easy for travelers to explore Finland while boosting local tourism. And to do so, the website of VisitFinland has been updated with a ton of information about things to do in the country. From enjoying a delicious cup of coffee in one of the many boutique coffee shops of the city to watching the northern lights in Lapland, you’ll be sure to find something you love. 

 Unfortunately, Finnair doesn’t provide free accommodation or transportation. However, the flights will cost you the same as if you’d flown directly to your final destination.  


Japan Airlines 

Japan Airlines


Stopover cities: Tokyo, Osaka and other partnering airlines’ hubs 

Japan Airlines’ frequent flyer program, Mileage Bank, provides flyers with one of the best stopover policies of all airlines. Travelers who book their flights with partner airlines will be offered up to 3 complementary stopovers with JMB Partner Airlines Award tickets and up to seven complementary stopovers with oneworld Award tickets. They can also stay up to three days in Japan. 

And all this at the same airfare cost as a simple round-trip flight ticket! 

This can turn out to be incredibly good value if you have some time and would love to explore a few destinations on the same trip with no additional cost for your flights. 

Let’s take an example. Let’s say your origin is Tokyo and your final destination is London.  

If you were to book a round-trip oneworld Award flight ticket you could build your itinerary as follows: 

 

  • Tokyo - Helsinki (By Finnair) 
  • Helsinki - Vienna (By Finnair) 
  • Vienna - Paris (By Niki Airlines) 
  • Paris - London (By British Airways) 
  • London - Tokyo (By British Airways)


If you ask us, being able to explore so many cities for the price of a round trip ticket Tokyo to London with Japan airlines’ stopover program is a no-brainer. 


Etihad

Etihad

Stopover city: Abu Dhabi 

How does exploring one of the most beautiful mosques in the Middle East in the morning, enjoying a delicious meal and cocktail on Yas Island for lunch, and embarking on a desert safari to watch the sunset sound? Good? 

Well, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do on your stopover in Abu Dhabi if you fly with Etihad. 

The airline offers flyers the opportunity to stay for up to 2 nights in one of its partnering hotels for free and at no additional airfare cost. And if you’d like to stay for longer, the airline’s stopover program also offers heavily discounted rates on luxury hotel rooms. 

All you need to do is jump on Etihad’s website, select the ‘’multi-city flight’’ option, pick a hotel in the list of participating hotels, and you’re all set! 

What’s more, the Etihad stopover program also offers great discounts on activities and tours to help turn your stay in Abu Dhabi into a magical experience. 

And as if it wasn’t enough, the city runs free bus services from the Abu Dhabi International Airport. 

Note that the free stopover option can only be used on one leg of the journey. 


Tap Air Portugal Tap Air Portugal

Stopover cities: Lisbon and Porto 

Tap Air Portugals stopover program is easy to access, and booking a multi-city flight with the airline is pretty straightforward. The airline’s website even features a ‘’how to book a stopover flight’’ tab to help travelers maximize their travel experience.  

With Tap Air, you can add a stopover in Lisbon or Porto to your original flight for up to five nights and at no additional airfare cost.  

Once in Porto, after a bit of sightseeing, try the famous pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) with some delicious port wines, and enjoy some gorgeous Atlantic views from the famous Foz de Douro promenade. And if you decide to make Lisbon your stopover, enjoy a beautiful sunset sailing cruise or visit the stunning Sintra, Cascais, and Penna palaces.  

Note that Tap Air Portugal also provides flyers who opt for the stopover option with discounted activities, tours, and hotel rooms.  

So, make sure to check these out when planning your next trip!  And if you need any help organizing your trip to Lisbon or Porto, download the Tap app. 


Icelandic Air 

Icelandic Air

Stopover city: Reykjavík 

If you’ve always dreamt of exploring the land of fire and ice during a transatlantic trip, the Icelandic Air stopover program might be just what you need! Icelandic Air is one of the pioneers when it comes to stopover flights. So, it comes as no surprise that it’s also one of the most generous.  

If you book a trip with the airline, you can stay up to 7 nights in Iceland at no extra airfare cost.  

The booking tool is easy to use. All you need to do is enter your origin, destination, and date, click on ‘’add a stopover’’, choose the duration (between 1 and 7 nights), and click search. You’ll then be presented with different flight options allowing you to transit through Reykjavík. 

What’s more, the airline also partners with local guides and tour companies to offer travelers an unforgettable Icelandic adventure at a discount!  

Whether you’d like to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, explore the golden circle, see the northern lights, or the fjords, you’ll find a package to suit your needs. 


Azores Airlines Azores Airlines

Stopover cities: Terceira, Ponta Delgada 

Ever heard of a magical archipelago blissed with incredible natural sights just off the coast of Portugal? 

We’re talking about the beautiful Azores region! 

Located 850 miles off the Portuguese coast, this little heaven on earth is home to nine gorgeous islands featuring million-year-old volcanoes, picturesque green pastures, fields of blue hydrangeas, and beautiful waters.  

Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? 

Well, the great news is that Azores Airlines offers travelers the opportunity to stop in the archipelago on their transatlantic journey for up to 7 nights at no extra airfare cost!  


Air France - KLM Air France - KLM

Stopover city: Paris and Amsterdam 

Some Air France flight tickets allow you to include a stopover in your trip for over 24 hours between 2 flights. This can be done by using the multiple destinations tool on the airline’s website.  

Air France doesn’t advertise their stopover option on their website, so you’ll have to call for more information. 

Also, note that most of Air France’s non-flexible fares don’t have this option. 


Brussels Airlines Brussels Airlines

Stopover city: Brussels 

If you want to add a free stop in Europe on your way to your final destination, check out the Brussels Airlines Stopover Program 

Under the Brussels Airlines Stopover Program, you can stay between 1 and 5 nights in the country at no extra airfare cost. This gives you plenty of time to explore the country of waffles, fries, chocolate, and beer! 

The airline makes booking your multi-city flight very easy and also provides travelers with a lot of useful information as to what to do in Belgium.  

And guess what?  

Flying through this program will give you access to over 50 free activities in the county, including a Brussels city tour, a free chocolate tasting to try Laurent Gerbaud’s famous handmade chocolate creations and a beer tasting in Antwerp!  

Now, if that doesn’t convince you to have a look at the airline’s stopover program, we don’t know what will ;) 


Final Words 

Each airline has its own rules regarding stopover flights, and unfortunately, they tend to change quite regularly. The best way to keep up to date is to ring the airline and enquire about their stopover options. 

We hope this article has provided you with some insightful tips on how to book a long layover on your next trip and make the most of it! If the pandemic taught us one thing is that travel is precious, and we never know when the next trip will be. So, make the most of each one and build some precious memories by adding new stops along the way. 

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