What is a layover flight? How does a layover flight work? Is there a difference between a domestic and international layover? If you are embarking on a long journey, or simply planning your first vacation that requires a flight, these are questions you should be asking yourself.
While layovers have the potential to add stress to your travel plans, they are often inexpensive alternatives to nonstop flights. A layover flight can be defined as any flight that requires you to transfer planes. However, there are many variables that you must consider before booking a layover flight. Check out this list of the things you must know about layover flights.
Things You should Know about Layovers
Layovers Can Save You Money
Nonstop flights can often eat up a large portion of your travel budgets. While layovers may add some hours to your travels, they are often a cheaper alternative, especially if you are booking international flights. For example, according to farecompare.com, you can save over $600 if you book a layover flight from Los Angeles to Paris. If you are traveling on a budget, or simply looking to save your funds for your destinations, layover flights are options you should consider.
Layovers vs Stopovers
While planning your travels, you are likely to encounter the term “stopovers.” There is a lot of confusion concerning the differences of layovers vs. stopovers.
Although the definition of a layover and stopover are similar, the differences usually involve the amount of time between connecting flights. A layover for a domestic flight lasts less than four hours, while layovers for international flights last less than 24 hours. Anything more are considered stopovers. With that being said, the terms can often be used interchangeably.
Domestic layovers involve flights where transfers occur domestically. For example, a domestic layover in the US could involve a trip from San Francisco to Baltimore with a layover in Chicago. For domestic layovers, you will receive both boardings passes from your itinerary during your first flight.
International layovers are a little more complex than domestic layovers. These layovers often require boarding two or more planes of different airlines. For that reason, you may not receive both boarding passes during check-in. If this is the case, you will need to go to the counter of your second airline to receive your second boarding pass.
Leaving the Airport During a Layover
An often-overlooked advantage of layovers is the opportunity it presents to leave the airport to explore a new city. During long layovers, you often have multiple hours to spare. Layovers often occur in great cities worth exploring. It was during a layover that I ate my first authentic deep-dish Chicago pizza. I suggest taking this opportunity to add some memories to your traveling experience.
If you are booking an international layover, you should be familiar with transit visas. Transit visas permit you to stay in a country for one to three days. Better yet, they are inexpensive and easy to apply for. In some cases, countries will provide you with transit visas upon arrival.
Either way, you should take advantage of transit visas and explore a new country during your travels. Imagine what a layover in Amsterdam or a layover in London could offer!
Long layovers are often around four hours for domestic flights and 24 hours for international flights. If you receive a long layover, you should look at it as an opportunity for exploration. International layovers can often occur in some of the world’s most premier travel destinations
You can receive layovers in Dubai, layovers in Mexico City, layovers in Paris. You can even go on layover tours if you receive a layover in Tokyo. Often, long, international layovers can become part of your travel story!
Short layovers are less about exploration and more about making sure you make your connecting flights on time. To increase your chances of making connecting flights during short layovers, you should try to get a seat towards the front of the plane, become aware of your surroundings by printing or looking up a map of the airport you will be landing in, and be efficient with your time.
For domestic flights, it usually takes around 45 minutes to make a connection. International flights, with requirements such as checking in at customs, take at least two hours to make a connection. Travel smart and leave enough time to make connections during short layovers.
Layover Booking Options
How you book a layover depends on what airline you are traveling with. You should become familiar with your airline's policies regarding layover flights and pricing. As a general rule-of-thumb, airlines will add additional charges for international layovers lasting over 24 hours and domestic layovers lasting over four hours.
You can usually plan your layover booking by searching through connections offered by the airlines. Shorter layovers usually appear near the top of offered flights, while longer layovers appear towards the bottom. You should determine whether you want to spend some time exploring your layover destination or get on with your travels as quickly as possible.
One of the biggest concerns for any traveler is going through airport security. Unfortunately, you should expect to reenter airport security checks during layovers. This is especially true for international flights, as most countries airports will require you to go through security regardless of the gate you land at.
For domestic layovers, there is a chance that you will receive a connecting flight in the same terminal. If this is the case, you may not be required to go through security. However, you should always calculate the possibility of a security check when booking a layover flight.
Layover flights offer many unique situations during your travels. Often, they are cheaper and offer opportunities to explore exotic travel destinations. However, they require additional security checks and can add stress to your travels. Whatever the case may be, you should be familiar with the different aspects of booking a layover flight.
Did you enjoy this list of things you should know about layover flights? Find a thing helpful, or do you have your own knowledge of layover flights you would like to share? If so, tell us about it in the comments below and be sure to share the article on Facebook or Twitter.
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Written By Kate Mark
Kate is a mid-lifer who quit a growing corporate career to reawaken her passions and her lifelong dream of traveling the world.