11

Sometimes, airlines and booking engines offer options with overnight layovers, and usually present these as unattractive options (and usually they are, because not many people enjoy sleeping in airports).

Occasionally though they are in cities where one can easily spend a night, for example with a friend, and this turns the option into an advantage.

Is there a way to search for flight options that incorporate overnight layovers?

(Of course, it could be possible to search flights from A->B, and then flights from B->C the next day. However, such combinations can be more expensive, and may have different ticketing conditions.)

  • 1
    Couldn't you search for flights from A->B, and then flights from B->C the next day? – DJClayworth Aug 13 at 13:23
  • I'm with DJ, I've been using multi-city search to find bargains with overnight connections for almost two decades now. – choster Aug 13 at 14:05
  • Good point @DJClayworth - I have addressed it in the question. – Daniele Procida Aug 13 at 14:05
  • ...and then when you've found the flights you want, call the airline and book them as a single ticket. – DJClayworth Aug 13 at 14:05
  • 1
    There's something huge you're overlooking. Many of these involve obtaining visas for that country, which complicates the heck out of the trip. If you go Houston-Dulles-Dubai-Bangalore, visit Winchester VA, that's fine, it's domestic. But exit the airport and visit Dubai, now you need a visa to enter the Emirates, uncheck bags, inspection etc. etc. – Harper Aug 14 at 0:21
8

Searching for flights with stopovers (the term used to describe a long layover, usually over 24 hours, where you retrieve your bags and check them back in when you depart) is not an easy task.

Airline policies are very variable in this respect. Some airlines do encourage stopovers in their "home city", pushed to do so by local authorities. They will often have special deals for hotels, transfers, etc.

Cathay Pacific used to do that a lot for stopovers in Hong Kong, don't know if they still do. Some of the Middle-East airlines do so as well for a stopover in their home city.

Some airlines on the other hand have restrictions on stopovers (as they are seen as a way for business travellers to pay less for flights), including:

  • allowing stopovers only on some fares (the more expensive ones, of course)
  • limiting the number of stopovers
  • limiting where you can have a stopover
  • adding a charge for each stopover

Doing a generic search is not easy, especially if you have flexibility on the number of days you are willing to stay, as this adds yet another dimension to the search.

The find such fares, there are multiple methods:

  • on search engines which allow "multi-city" searches, enter all the segments. This will usually try to find fares that match the total flight rather than the individual segments.

  • if you are interested in a specific A-B-C combination but are flexible on the dates, you could use tools sur as Expertflyer to:

    • Look up the available fares on A-C
    • Check the fare rules for each fare and keep the lowest fares that allow stopovers in B.
    • Find the matching fare class for each fare (may be different on the different segments)
    • Find which A-B and B-C flights have availability for the given fare class

It's quite time-consuming though.

  • You can also use search engines such as Kayak or Google Flights and add conditions:

    • number of stops
    • connecting city
    • time-ranges for departure, arrival or connection times

The way you would search depends a bit on whether you are set on a specific itinerary or are willing to consider multiple options.

Note that even if the airline does not charge more for the stopover directly, there may be additional taxes (1 arrival + 1 departure often costs more than 1 transit in many airports).

Good luck!

  • I think OP is looking for flights where the stopover is unavoidable due to the timing of flights, and hence is not a consensual extra fare/service stopover, but is simply an excessively long in-airport layover that is unavoidable owing to no available flights. I also exploit these on Amtrak, for the 6-10 hour daytime layovers in downtown Washington DC. – Harper Aug 14 at 0:34
  • @Harper OP is talking about staying overnight, seeing friends, etc. To me this points more towards a stopover with retrieval of checked bags rather than a long in-airport layover. But let’s hear it from them! – jcaron Aug 14 at 7:27
3

It's pretty standard for most airlines to offer layovers up to 24 hours, and up to 4 hours domestically. This is another case where the power of ITA Matrix (https://matrix.itasoftware.com) comes really handy!

In ITA Matrix, you can search for flights with a connection above a minimum length. Usually, if you search for connections longer than 12 hours, that'll yield you a bunch of overnight results.

To do this:

  1. Visit https://matrix.itasoftware.com/
  2. Enter your flight details as usual
  3. Click on "Show advanced controls" and enter minconnect 12:00 or whatever your minimum connecting length you want to have Screenshot of adding minconnect setting
  4. Press search
  5. Select your flight, and copy/paste the page into BookWithMatrix (https://bookwithmatrix.com) to book

You'll be presented with a page of results that may have some nonstop flights, but more importantly, has layovers of at least the length you specified. If layovers are over 12 hours, they're usually overnight!

Results page with lots of long layovers

Congratulations! You just got an extra layover in Hong Kong or Beijing. Note that you should also check if the visa policies allow this stopover, and get the needed visas if you want to leave the airport.

Once you've gotten a flight, you can head over to https://bookwithmatrix.com/ to book the resulting flight: for example, this flight with a 1.5 day layover in Beijing, with enough time to visit the Great Wall.

Using BookWithMatrix to book this flight

0

Airlines websites usually doesn't show all options (they took several years to allow multi-segment flights).

Try external website, where you can filter out easily too short connections (e.g. kayak), or just check the possible flights on different days (and check how many days you can do a stopover), then contact the airline. Unfortunately, in such way, it is difficult to compare different airlines.

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