When it comes to flying, multiplying is good. Multiplying miles earned, multiplying free drinks and most importantly, multiplying the amount of flying and destinations you get to visit without paying more. Stopovers are the holy grail of avid frequent fliers yet are accessible to most everyone, they just don’t know it. When the beautiful (?) minds at the airline create fares for us to purchase, they often rope in “allowed” stopovers, which can serve as anything from a layover to a separate mini vacation. Will they tell you? Of course not! Long story short, sometimes you don’t just have to go from point A to point B for your money, you can get much more.
On certain fares you can add additional destinations in at little or no extra cost. Some free tickets using frequent flier miles even allow for the same! The airline tickets you buy aren’t as simple as they look on your booking screen and as such, when you buying a ticket it’s not necessarily easy to know if you are entitled to a stopover. Putting in the legwork however can be extremely lucrative.
Let’s say for the sake of argument you depart New York bound for Buenos Aires. The obvious thought would be that you are entitled to simply fly to Buenos Aires and nothing more. Upon reading some fares you discover that there are one, two, three or more allowed stopovers permitted in each direction en route to your ultimate destination. In this example I could theoretically fly from New York to Miami, have a night there and explore, continue on to Lima, Peru for a little adventure and finally after another night or two, arrive in Buenos Aires. Perhaps on the way home, I’d like to see Rio… no problem! Each fare is different and accessing the fare and understanding it is the hard part. Most great fares found exist on the ITA Matrix, my favorite go to tool for all travelers. By using the matrix to search, for any fare you are interested in, you can very easily find the rules for stopovers by clicking “rules”.
Are stopovers allowed on every fare? Of course not. Each fare is constructed differently for different reasons. It’s absolutely possible to find heavily discounted economy, business or first fares including numerous permitted complimentary stopovers. The only way to know is to investigate. Other than the matrix, where you can investigate for yourself, sites like The Flight Deal and FlyerTalk Premium Fare forum often include plain english information about all the stops and routings that are allowed. We should all be very thankful that these resources and guides exist. As to practicality, it’s all about checking before you actually book. Once booked you would be subject to change fees and hassle to lock in your flights. As a matter of principle, once you find a ticket you’d like to book, whatever the fare or cabin class; see what stopovers of interest, if any are available and try to add them in. It could be the key to unlocking a trip featuring three incredible cities for the price of one. More flying, more miles, more bang for your buck.
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