As per my current understanding:

  • Layover - stop at an airport with a plane change

  • Stopover - deliberately-long break in travel by passenger (4 hours+ for domestic, 24 hours+ for international) which can carry additional fees

Is a short layover where you stay on the plane with the same flight number also called a layover? Are my previous definitions correct? IATA seems to define stopovers as such.

  • 3
    I'd personally just refer to it as just a 'stop', potentially clarifying that there's no plane change. This is what Southwest (the airline) do for this kind of itinerary.
    – jacoman891
    Jul 13, 2017 at 14:33
  • Of related interest: In the context of air travel, are layovers different to stopovers? and at Aviation.SE, What is the difference between slice, segment and leg? Note that in some cases what term airlines use internally may differ from what they say to their customers, and what IATA or APTCO uses may differ from what ICAO uses, and what Sabre uses may differ from what Worldspan uses.
    – choster
    Jul 13, 2017 at 14:41
  • 4
    If nobody can break their flight at the stop, the flight number doesn't change, and new people don't get on, I would call it a technical stop. Meaning you're only stopping for technical reasons (eg refueling) and not for passenger convenience (such as ending or starting a trip at the stop.) Jul 13, 2017 at 17:12
  • @KateGregory +1 as that should be the answer, with a nod to choster's comment.
    – Giorgio
    Jul 15, 2017 at 21:37
  • 1
    @AndyT Then it's still called a Direct flight (same flight number) but operationally, it's treated as a Connection. All these terms are used almost interchangeably and in overlapping scenarios. If you really need to know the details, you have to ask specifically.
    – DTRT
    Aug 11, 2017 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


The general term for such flights is "direct flight":

A direct flight in the aviation industry is any flight between two points by an airline with no change in flight numbers, which may include a stop at an intermediate point. The stop over may either be to get new passengers (or allow some to disembark) or a technical stop over (i.e., for refuelling).

If there aren't any passengers getting off then it's a "technical stop":

Technical stop. A stop most commonly used to refuel the aircraft, to make unexpected essential repairs or to respond to some emergency need to land the aircraft. No traffic is unloaded or loaded during a technical stop.

If the flight is handled by a foreign airline, then it's also a "fifth freedom flight":

Fifth freedom flight. The right to fly between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one's own country. Example: a flight from Greece to China, flown by a Chinese airline, with a full stop in Munich. Passengers and cargo may board or disembark the flight in Munich, with no intention to continue the flight to Beijing

  • Hmm. "fifth freedom" means that e.g. Qantas are able to run a flight LHR-DXB-MEL and sell tickets for just the LHR-DXB part, but it doesn't explain what the term is for the stop at DXB if you've booked from LHR-MEL.
    – AndyT
    Aug 11, 2017 at 11:45
  • Note that "Fifth freedom" only applies in the case when the stop is in a different country than the origin and destination. It doesn't apply to a domestic itinerary like LAX-PHX-ABQ, or where the stop is in the same country as the origin or destination, like JFK-LAX-SYD. Aug 11, 2017 at 16:03
  • @NateEldredge fixed
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:28
  • 1
    "Direct flight" has morphed into a meaningless marketing ploy, that's no different from a regular "connection", other than that both legs happen to have the same flight number (so it can be marketed is "direct"). It doesn't mean it's the same plane, the same crew or they will wait for the incoming. I was on "direct" flight from BOS to LAS and spent the night in Denver.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 12, 2017 at 14:17
  • @Hilmar well, is there a better term than "direct flight" then?
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 12, 2017 at 16:13

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