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I have three days to get from Singapore to Budapest, and I would like to find a city to stopover for two nights. I don't have a specific city in mind for the stopover. Are there any flight search engines that can search for such flights?

The best I know how to do now is enumerate all the big transfer hubs and entering it as a multi city itinerary in Google Flights, but that is very slow and I will probably miss out many reasonable cities.

More formally, given cities A and C, and dates D and D+N, how may I find flights from A to B on date D and from B to C on date D+N for some city B, preferably sorted by price or some other reasonable metric?

Apparently ITA Matrix used to be able to do this, but all the guides floating around the interwebs use some older version of ITA Matrix that has extra buttons not present in the new Google-y material design website.

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  • Do you want actual stopovers (I.e. a single ticket with the two flights a few days apart), or are completely separate flights an option? In any case the first step is probably to search for flights from A to C to find possible routings, but beware that stopover policies vary a lot between airlines (some encourage them and will even get you hotels and transfers etc, while others will charge you through the nose for one).
    – jcaron
    Aug 6, 2023 at 10:14
  • The new Matrix AFAIK supports everything that the old one did, just pop open the Advanced Controls pane. Aug 6, 2023 at 10:16
  • @jcaron Either works for me - I suppose two days is enough buffer in case of delays.
    – Bernard
    Aug 6, 2023 at 10:22
  • @lambshaanxy Hmm I guess then it was never possible to perform such a search? I tried adding MINCONNECT 36:00 to a one-way search and it didn't produce any results.
    – Bernard
    Aug 6, 2023 at 10:27
  • The older matrix interface is still up (for how long is unknown) at oldmatrix, don't know if that would be usedful Aug 6, 2023 at 18:57

1 Answer 1

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There are two options of booking this: A) as a single itinerary with a stopover, or, B) as two independent tickets.

Option A) is dependent on the stopover rules of a specific ticket. These can be complicated, e.g.: none, one per direction, unlimited, various fees, etc. This doesn't lend itself easily to search engine integration and since demand for this is rather low, no engine I know has bothered trying to integrate it.

Even most airlines keep that somewhat opaque: Stopovers can only be booked as a multi-city ticket and a ticket from A to B to C could be issued as a "A->C with a stopover in B" or as two separate fares "A->B" + "A->C". This being said: Some airlines (e.g. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/airlines-with-free-stopovers) do actively advertise free stopovers in their hub.

Your best shot here is to do one of the following

  1. Look for BUD->SIN, identify the top 5 choices that meet your criteria for attractiveness, detour, tolerable pricing, etc and manually check the stopover rules for each fare
  2. Look for "extra long layovers" with ITA matrix. While MINCONNECT 36:00 does indeed come up empty, MICONNECT 24:00 or MINCONNECT 30:00 provides a good list of options. This can also be a great starting point for method 1) above.

An extra long layover may have the advantage that the airline may hold on to your checked luggage. For a stopover you will always have to collect and recheck bags.

Option B (two separate tickets) is a non-starter for a search engine. There are several hundred potential stopover airports each with dozens of flight options to/from BUD and SIN. The sheer number of possible combinations will be prohibitively large.

So you would have to constrain the search somehow. Both BUD and SIN serve 100+ destinations. If you want to minimize the amount of flying, you could look for destinations that are served by both airports and geographically desirable (by your preferences, visa, etc.). A good tool for something like this is flightconnections.com.

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  • This is unfortunate, but I guess it's the correct answer. After some more checking, it seems that only a handful of airlines will allow stopovers for more than a day, so it seems better to enumerate those airlines instead of enumerating cities in a SIN-BUD search like you suggest.
    – Bernard
    Aug 7, 2023 at 14:34
  • I disagree that Option B is a non-starter though. Given a list of all possible flights in the entire world, and a bit of preprocessing time, I'm almost certain I'd be able to come up with an algorithm that can serve such queries reasonably quickly.
    – Bernard
    Aug 7, 2023 at 14:36

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