Stopover vs Layover: What is the difference?

Stopover vs layover? Is it the same thing?

Or is there a significant difference between layover and stopover?

In fact, there are several differences between the two. The main difference, however, is the time spent at the airport. Layover is a 45-minute to a few-hour wait at the airport between two flights. The longest layovers are up to 24 hours long. Stopover, on the other hand, is a long layover, a layover that is longer than 24 hours, often a couple of days.

Read on to learn more about layovers and stopovers.

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A man with a suitcase at an airport gate

Layover vs Stopover: Definition

A layover refers to the waiting time between two connecting flights at an airport. Typically, a layover lasts for a few hours, but it can be shorter or longer. It is important to note that a layover does not exceed a duration of 24 hours.

Anything longer than 24 hours is considered a stopover.

A stopover is when a traveller intentionally pauses their journey in a connecting city or country for more than 24 hours before continuing to their final destination. It can also be due to flight availability — sometimes you don’t have an option but to wait for a day or two.

Stopover vs Layover: What is the difference?

What is the difference between stopover and layover?

As already mentioned, both a layover and stopover are periods of time when a traveller has to wait in a connecting city or airport before boarding their next flight to their next or final destination. But there are a few differences between layovers and stopovers.

1. Time spent at a connecting airport

The primary difference between the two is duration.

The amount of time spent at a connecting airport differs. While a layover is typically less than 24 hours, a stopover is a longer period of time, usually up to a few days.

2. Purpose

Layovers are typically necessary for passengers to change planes, on the way to their final destination, when there are no direct flights available. Of course, you can also choose to have a flight with a layover, even when there are direct flights. Why? Because, for example, it is cheaper to have a connecting flight, or you like that option better.

During a layover, you usually wait in the airport terminal until your next flight is ready for boarding. Depending on the length of the layover, you may have the option to explore the city during your wait, either by leaving the airport or participating in a layover program offered by the airline. Some airlines offer free tours for transit passengers who have to spend something like at least 6 hours at a layover city.

Stopovers, on the other hand, mostly are a traveller’s choice.

It is when you deliberately pause your journey at a connecting point and spend at least one night in the connecting city before continuing on to your final destination. It allows you to explore a city or country as part of your journey to some place.

3. Price

Generally, layovers are covered in the ticket price.

There are no any extra costs associated with having a layover. Except for what you may decide to buy at the airport. If, for example, you decide to have a meal or buy something at the airport.

But, if you intend to stay longer in a stopover city, you may have to buy several tickets and it may be more expensive than having a connecting flight with a layover. It will be necessary, if the airline you plan to fly with doesn’t offer a multi-city booking option. Very often multi-city flight bookings are the cheapest way to book a flight with a stopover.

Don’t forget to count it accommodation and travel expenses.

Several full-service airlines offer various stop-over programs that include discounted hotels, excursions and city tours. In addition to that, airlines often discount fares for multi-city flights to encourage more passengers to book them, allowing seats on the plane to be filled without offering discounts on shorter, direct flights.

4. Luggage

This is important to know!

During a layover, the airline will transfer your luggage from one flight to the next, so you don't have to collect and re-check your bags. However, during a stopover, mostly, you will need to collect and re-check your luggage, and go through immigration and customs, depending on the length of the stopover and the policies of the airport.

easyJet airplane about to depart

Flying with low-cost airlines

Sometimes, self-transfer flights are the only option.

This is especially true when travelling with most low-cost airlines. Very often these airlines don't offer "proper connecting flights", and you have to book several separate flights. These may be flights with different airlines, or with one airline, mostly it is still a self transfer.

And then, no matter the length of the stop, you do the same things like during a stopover - you re-check your bag or bags and you go through immigration after every one of your flights. This is one of the biggest differences between full service and low cost airlines.

How to choose between a layover or a stopover?

Choosing between a layover and a stopover depends on your particular needs.

If you need to get to your final destination ASAP, but there are no direct flights available, choose a connecting flight with a layover. During your layover, you will stop briefly en route to your final destination. In most situations, this is the fastest option that you have.

If you have time, and you would like to explore one more destination en route to your final destination, choose a connecting flight with a stopover. Your stopovers may last up to several days, allowing you to explore the city thoroughly before continuing on with your journey.

If you are planning to book a connecting flight with a stopover, see if the airline offers a stopover program. See if the airline offers discounted (sometimes, even free) accommodation and city tours. Often airlines allow stopovers without additional fees or fare increases, so there’s a high chance that your flights won’t be much more expensive than a regular connecting flight.

Do you have more questions about layovers and stopovers? What is your experience? Have you ever missed a flight due to late arrival of the airplane?