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What Is a Stopover?


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Stopover is a long layover (usually 24+ hours).

It’s a less popular term than layover, but it’s something very similar. It’s also about connecting flights. The main difference between stopover and layover being the length. While both layovers and stopovers are stops between flights, stopovers usually are longer. It’s common to have a 2-day long stopover.

People at the airport in Hong Kong
People at the airport in Hong Kong

1. What Is a Stopover?

A 1-2 day stop between flights.

That’s the meaning of stopover for most people.

Here’s a simple example. You have a connecting flight or self-transfer flight. You are flying from one place (A) to another place (B), and you are also stopping somewhere on your way (C). You are having a stopover, meaning a longer stop in this C place. This city or town. This place that you have chosen.

Mostly people choose to have a stopover somewhere specific.

Connecting flights visual demonstration
Connecting flights (with a layover/stopover)

That’s flights with a stopover in the most simple form.

These can be flights with different airlines or one airline. When flights are booked separately, as a self transfer, you may also be changing airports. You may decide to stay in the city or spend a night at the airport.

A fact worth mentioning. This is what we, travelers, understand with stopovers and flights with stopovers. At the same time, here’s a short explanation from Turkish Airlines – “If a journey is broken at a certain point in order to drop passengers off or for operational reasons and then continues on to the destination using the same aircraft, this is referred to as a stopover.”

Turkish Airlines

2. Stopover vs Layover

Layover vs stopover? What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between stopover and layover?

2.1 Duration

Layovers are shorter than stopovers.

The maximum length of an international layover is 23 hours 59 minutes. Anything longer than that is considered a stopover.

2.2 Leaving / Staying at Airport

With layovers everyone do as they wish.

Some choose to leave the airport during a layover, while others stay. Some stay only because otherwise they need a visa for a connection. If a layover is long, 8+ hours, mostly it’s easily possible to have a short sightseeing tour of the city.

However, with stopovers most leave the airport.

They leave the airport to explore the city/country.

2.3 You Choose to Have a Stopover

Most people choose to have a stopover.

Usually you don’t just have a stopover. You don’t book a stopover by accident. You choose to have a longer stop in between flights to explore that place, or to make a long journey less exhausting — a very smart choice.

It’s actually difficult to book a stopover by accident.

Next we talk about booking stopover flights.

Read more: Layover vs Stopover: Comparison

Indoor waterfall at Singapore Changi Airport
Indoor waterfall at Singapore Changi Airport

3. How to Book a Flight With a Stopover?

How to book a stopover flight?

There are two best options. To book a flight as a multi-city flight, directly from airline. Or to book it as a self-transfer flight, directly or via a third-party flight booking website or app. First is more safe, second – more widely available.

3.1 Booking a Multi-City Flight

Multi-city flight option is more safe.

You book multi-city flights directly from an airline.

Here’s an example with Qatar Airways, our favorite airline.

On their website, they have an option “Multi-city”.

A screenshot of Qatar Airways website
Qatar Airways website

You choose “Multi-city”, and then you build your flight.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. London – Jakarta, July 15
  2. Jakarta – Bali, July 17 (spending 1.5 days in Jakarta)
  3. Bali – London, August 1
Qatar Airways multi-city flight option
Qatar Airways multi-city flight

So, having a holiday in Bali, with a stopover in Jakarta.

This is just one example, with one airline.

Using the same methods, you can also book a flight to Australia with stopover in Phuket or Bali, for example. Multi-city flights are very, very useful. And they offer the safety of airline-protected connecting flights.

3.2 Booking a Self-Transfer Flight

In this case, there are two best options.

You can book directly from an airline or via a third-party.

How to Book?

Flight booking websites, or airline websites.

Few examples:,,

Want to be on the safe side? Add insurance right away.

Or book a flight from (with Kiwi Guarantee).

Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights? Nomad is one more option to consider.

Which option to choose, that’s up to you. When the price difference is less than 10% or 20 euro or dollars, we always recommend to book directly from an airline. In our experience since 2012, this has proven to be the best option in case of problems and changes. As always — compare the final price. Flight booking websites sometimes add high payment processing fees, or service fees, etc.

When the price difference is less than 10% or 20 euro or dollars, we recommend to book directly from an airline. This has proven to be the best option in case of flight problems and changes.

Read more: How to Book Connecting Flights?

Paraty, Brazil
Paraty, Brazil

4. Why to Have a Stopover?

There are quite a few reasons actually.

Here are just three of the most popular.

If you have never done it, you may have no clue, but…

4.1 It Can Save Money

It’s true in both situations (multi-city and self transfer).

Mostly you will see the biggest savings with self-transfer flights. This is when you book flights separately. For example, you may want to fly to Rome, but book a flight to Paris instead (because it’s super cheap), and then book a separate flight to Rome a day or two later. By having a stopover in Paris, you get to see both cities and save on flights.

Sometimes adding extra destinations makes it not more expensive but cheaper, or the price stays the same (with more destinations).

Possible scenarios are countless. This is just one example.

If price is about the same, multi-city option is more safe.

Multi-city flights give you freedom of separate flights, with a long stopover, and safety of airline-protected connecting flights.

4.2 It Can Be Fun

You see more. You experience more.

And you make your holiday or business trip more fun. By adding a stop or two along the way — by using something more than just an airport.

4.2 It Can Make a Long Flight Better

Long-haul flights can be very tiring.

That’s why more and more people choose to add a stopover, or at least a long layover in a good airport (sleeping in airport can also be relaxing). In some of the world’s best airports stopovers also come with great perks.

4.4 You May Get Free Perks

Free and discounted hotel stays. Free transit excursions.

These are two of the most popular perks countries and airlines around the world have started to offer. They want you to stop along the way. To visit the city and country. So, sometimes they give special deals on stopovers.

For example, Etihad Airways has such a deal. Etihad Airways offers both discounted and free accommodation, depending on how you are you planning to stay in Abu Dhabi. The offer is available for transiting passengers only.

With our Best of Abu Dhabi stopover package, get up to 40% off Abu Dhabi’s most exclusive hotels for up to six nights. Or choose a one or two-night stopover on us in selected 3* and 4* hotels. Or if you’re connecting in Abu Dhabi for 10 – 24 hours, book our complimentary Transit connect package.

How to book Etihad Airways free hotel stay / stopover deal?

It must be done online at

But book your flights first.

Learn more about the Etihad stopover programs here.

Similar stopover programs:

  • Qatar Airways Doha stopover. Learn more about Qatar stopover offer on the website of Qatar Airways.
  • Emirates Dubai stopover. There are special Dubai stopover packages, available to travelers from selected countries. Learn more about Emirates stopover program on their website.
  • Singapore Airline stopover. Singapore is a great stopover destination. It’s small, well-connected and a fun place to be. We love Singapore. See the Singapore stopover program details here.
  • Icelandair stopover. You can add a 1 to 7 day stopover in Iceland for free. Don’t get too excited! You will be covering all your expenses in Iceland. It’s only about the flight. That’s the beauty of multi-city flights. They often cost the same as normal connecting flights, but you have a stop in between. You have the fun of having multiple flights and destinations for the price of a regular flight. Read more here.
The skyline of Shanghai, China
Shanghai, China

5. Shanghai Stopover: My Experience

It was before the pandemic, before 2020.

I was in Hong Kong. And I learned of the visa-free transit in China. So, I came up with a plan to have a stopover in Shanghai on my way to Europe.

Now it is not clear now when it will restart, but back then China offered free transit visas that were issued on arrival. You could get your Chinese transit visa even if you had a self-transfer flight. I have applied for it twice myself.

  1. I booked a flight to Shanghai.
  2. And I booked another flight from Shanghai to London three days later. At the moment of my flight, you could get a 6-day free transit visa, when flying through Shanghai and Beijing.
  3. It worked. On arrival I got my transit visa, by showing an onward ticket, and that was all. I spent these days sightseeing in Shanghai. And then — flew to to Europe. It was super easy and interesting.

What is your experience with stopovers? Have you ever had a 2-day stopover? Have you ever used free stopover offers from airlines?

About the author:

Co-founder and Chief Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Kaspars is a digital nomad and travel blogger who’s been traveling the world extensively since 2013. Since 2017, Kaspars has been writing about the less-known aspects of air travel, things like air passenger rights laws and regulations. He’s really good at simplifying complex concepts and making them easily understandable. Kaspars favorite airlines are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.


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Connecting Flights Guide

Your go-to guide to air travel rules and regulations. Connecting flights, self transfer, onward tickets and more – we want you to understand air travel better

This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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