A layover is a great way to break up a long trip. You can spend a day or two between destinations exploring an unfamiliar city, maybe play a round of golf or two on the way to your main destination, and hop back on your next flight.
The world’s major airlines seem to have picked up on the greatness of the layover lately.
How do I know? Let’s just say I can give you 900 reasons...
Okay, I’m not really going to list 900 reasons here.
But, after reading about how many major airlines are fleecing travelers who want to build layovers into their trips (airlines call them stopovers if they’re longer than 24 hours), I did price two United Airlines itineraries from Washington/Dulles Airport to Edinburgh, Scotland by way of London.
The price with no stopover: $1,068. Not bad, actually.
The price for the same itinerary, but with a day and a half stopover in London?
That's a $922 difference. As a point of reference, the stopover surcharge used to be only $100 or so!
Oh, and the only way I was able to get a flight from London to Edinburgh for my selected date was to backtrack through Frankfurt, Germany. Useful.
Now you see what I meant when I could give you 900 reasons why it’s clear airlines have recognized people’s desire for layovers: they’re starting to charge more for them.
Investigating similar itineraries on other major airlines yielded less extreme results, but the likes of Delta and American seemed to tack on at least an extra $200 or $300 onto fares for a stopover.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
One airline that very proudly avoids charging “stopover fees” is Icelandair, which flies out of a surprising number of American cities (Orlando, Atlanta, New Orleans and Raleigh-Durham, among others).
Travelers to Europe can use Icelandair to connect to cities like London, Paris and Rome, as well as Glasgow, near many of Scotland’s great links. Reykjavik is known as an intriguing city and the Icelandic countryside is spectacular (in the summer, of course). Believe it or not, there are also golf possibilities in Iceland, which offers a rare opportunity for round-the-clock golf in high summer at courses like Keilir and Reykjavik Golf Club’s two courses.
Have you been charged a bunch to build a stopover into a trip recently? Any other suggestions for avoiding what appears to be the newest way for airlines to nickel-and-dime travelers? Let us know in the comments.
p.s.: By the way, the real expert who knows how to avoid these kinds of fees -- and who can help you score upgrades to first class -- is Matthew Bennett of First Class Flyer. He reveals all kinds of ways to beat the airlines at the own game in his awesome newsletter, which you can try for free here.