I love layovers of under 24 hours on a single ticket – they allow me to explore a new city for a day or just catch up with friends for dinner in a city I’ve visited countless times. A day on the beach? Not a problem. I am of course referring to layovers of up to 24 hours on a single ticket.
Say I’m flying from Seattle to London on an Aeroplan award ticket. I could fly Seattle – Newark – London with a short layover in Newark. Or I literally could do the following: Seattle – San Francisco – Los Angeles – Chicago – Newark – Washington – London. In each of those “layover” cities, I could stop for up to 23 hours 59 minutes if I wanted to. This would all be on one ticket and I wouldn’t pay anything else in miles since it would still qualify as a simple Seattle – London ticket.
Many airlines allow you to route through your favourite city on mileage tickets, as long as you meet certain requirements – such as maximum permitted mileage. For example, I probably couldn’t fly Seattle – San Francisco – Mexico City – Newark – London on one ticket as it would exceed the MPM (because Mexico City isn’t close to being between Seattle and London). You can do this on Aeroplan, Alaska, American, British Airways, Lufthansa, etc. mileage tickets. However, you cannot do it on Delta and United tickets. This is because you have to accept the routing that DL and UA’s websites give you when searching for Seattle – London. If you wanted to route through a city not shown, you’d have to pay for two separate tickets. Ridiculously stupid, I know.
So when do layovers of less than 24 hours make sense?
- when the airport is close to the city centre (or wherever you would like to go in the area)
- there’s no point if you have to drive more than an hour if you are only going to be in this area for a day
- when the arrival and departure times are reasonable
- perfect times are arriving between 12:00 and 16:00 and departing between 11:00 and 15:00 the next day
- when there is a good airport hotel that you can walk to (not always necessary)
- this will save you SO MUCH TIME (for example, not having to wait for a shuttle)
- when there is good transportation options between the airport and city centre
- the best options are when you can take a nonstop train directly into the city centre from the airport
Generally I love to layover for a day in cities like Vienna, Frankfurt, Zurich, Warsaw, etc. because you can get from the airport to the city centre in generally under 30 minutes. I don’t think I’d ever want to have a 24h layover in London, Paris, or Rome. Not only are the airports far from the city centre, the transportation options take forever.
The number one question I ask myself when considering a one-day layover is how long will it take me to get from the airport to where I want to go and if all of it will be worth it. Usually it is – especially when the journey will be short and I have something specific in mind (like dinner with a friend).
What do you guys look for when considering 24h layover somewhere?