Great Layover Checklist

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How to make layover comfortable? And fun?

Sounds like a mission impossible? No, it’s not, really. Your layover doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. If you have a bit of planning and research about your layover airport, and decide beforehand what to do, it could be even a pleasant layover. Follow our tips to make your layover more enjoyable.

Even if you don’t need it now, save the guide for later!

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Impressive indoor waterfall in Changi Airport, Singapore
Impressive indoor waterfall in Changi Airport, Singapore

Great Layover Checklist

1. Find Out If You Need a Visa 

First things first — do you need a transit visa?

Find out about visa and entry requirements before you time. Preferably, a month or so in advance. Even better — before booking a flight. 

Most likely you don’t need it. If you have an airline-protected connecting flight, not self-transfer connection with separate flights, most probably you won’t need a visa/transit visa for your layover. You will be staying at a transit area in the airport, and you won’t be going to the public access zone of the airport.

At your origin airport, you will be checked in to your final destination, and issued all the boarding passes for all connecting flights. The same happens to your baggage on connecting flights — it will be sent to your final destination. So, there’s no need for you to leave the departures terminal.

But if you have a self-transfer flight, you may need a visa for connection. If a country requires a visa for entry, then you will need to apply for a visa before your self-transfer flight. Unless you can get it on arrival (sometimes you can).

2. Do You Need to Recheck Baggage?

What happens to your checked bag?

If it’s an airline-protected flight, in most cases, your bag will be sent to your final destination. There are a few exceptions, though. For example, if you have a self-transfer, or you’re traveling through a country that requires everyone to collect and recheck their baggage (e.g., USA).

3. Find Your Gate

Find your next gate right after you land.

You might need to go through security inside the terminal. Don’t be surprised if you see security check before your next gate. Find your gate, so that you know where it is, when the departure time will be approaching.

If you have some time left before until your flight departs, explore the terminal. Get some rest. Read a book. Go shopping or have lunch or dinner.

Read more: What to Do During a Long Layover?

4. Eat a Healthy Meal

Eat a healthy meal before boarding.

Cut some fruits before you go to the airport, and put them in a plastic container. Fruits especially oranges contain vitamin C which is good for your immunity. 

If your layover is in a city or country you’ve never visited so far, try the local cuisine. But we recommend you to choose a light meal, so you don’t feel heavy afterwards. Flatulence increases in the air. You can avoid it by eating light meals, and by avoiding certain foods (beans, fast food, cabbage, cauliflower and carbonated drinks).

Avoid coffee. Don’t drink coffee before or during your flight. Coffee dehydrates you and doesn’t let you sleep. At least don’t drink too much of it.

5. Don’t Forget About Water

Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up before the flight. If it’s a full-service airline, you will be getting drinks on the plane (including water), but it’s always great to have a full bottle of water. Those two little cups is not enough. You get dehydrated on a plane fast. 

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

6. Rest or Get Some Sleep

If you have a long layover, get some rest. 

Just don’t oversleep. If you are planning to get some sleep, set an alarm so that you don’t miss your flight. There are several ways how you can get some sleep at the airport. The most common way is to get some sleep, sitting in an airport chair. If you are lucky, you might stumble upon more comfy reclining chairs (not all airports have them though).

If your layover is a few-hours long, consider getting some sleep in a sleeping pod. It’s a great (and cheaper) alternative to an airport hotel. Unfortunately, you will not find sleeping pods in every airport. 

If you have a long layover with certain airlines, you could be entitled to a free hotel stay and transfers. Turkish Airlines, Emirates and other airlines offer their layover passengers free or discounted hotel stays.

Read more: Sleeping in Airport? Possible, Doable, Can be Relaxing

7. Explore the City

If you have a long layover, head into the city.

As long as you are allowed to leave the airport, and you can comply with the visa rules, or if you don’t need a visa for this country, you can go sightseeing.

If your layover is at least 6 hours long (better — 8 hours), explore your layover city! Yes, it’s not a huge amount of time, but you could manage to see a couple of the most famous landmarks. Well, of course, not all cities are fun for layover, but if you are transiting through any of these awesome layover cities, consider taking a short trip to the city from the airport. 

Some of the world’s best airlines offer stop-over programs to their layover passengers. This means that if you are staying at an airport for a certain amount of time, you are entitled to a free or discounted layover tour of the city, and/or a free hotel stay. Turkish Airlines is one of the airlines who offer stop-over programs to its layover passengers. 

8. Explore the Airport

If you have a layover in a major airport, you don’t have to explore the city, you might find the city in the airport! The best example of such an airport is Singapore Changi Airport. It’s so cool, it has been voted the best airport for several years. It boasts a myriad of cool attractions and activities.

For example, it features the highest indoor waterfall in the world. You won’t get bored in Singapore Changi!

Another great example is Hong Kong Airport. While it doesn’t offer such an amazing array of attractions, there are a few nice things layover passengers transiting through Hong Kong can do there. You can watch a movie at an IMAX cinema, visit Aviation Discovery Centre, play virtual sports at i-Sports and relax and have a massage at a spa.  

9. Self Transfer vs Connecting Flight

Is it an airline-protected transfer or self transfer?

If it’s a self transfer, then everything’s a bit more complicated. You have to make sure the layover is long enough. Will you have time for collecting and rechecking your baggage? Does your next flight leave from the same terminal? Do you need to change airports? Do you need a visa for your self-transfer? 

You have to consider all of this before booking the flight. 

10. Be Back in Time for Your Next Flight

This goes without saying, but be in time for your next flight.

If you are exploring the city, it’s best to be back 2 hours before the flight. If you are spending your layover in the airport, head back to your gate 30 minutes before the boarding starts.

What is your experience with airport layovers and stopovers? Do you like long layovers? What do you usually do during a long layover? Have you ever booked a flight with long layover on purpose? If yes – why?


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