Like the vast majority of travelers, I hate that rushed feeling of landing at an unfamiliar international airport and having one hour to find my way to the other side. Even more, I hate when my luggage has to make that journey and doesn’t make it in time (thank you flight to Athens via Amsterdam 2010).
So when I book flights, I instead look for fares that have long layovers. Or, better yet, incorporate free layovers into my long flights for the bonus adventure or two.
An airline I plan to do that with this year on my way to Europe is Iceland Air. They give you a free layover in Iceland for one to seven nights on either or both directions of your journey. (Tip: If you book three to four nights both sides of your trip, you save even more, but unless you’ve got someplace cheap to stay those nights, you’ll actually wind up spending more if these are extra nights beyond your original plans.)
I’m planning to embrace this opportunity to visit this phenomenal country that I’ve been wanting to experience for years, without having to add any extra airfare charges to my trip to Europe.
In past, I’ve done this in various other countries and gotten to enjoy New Zealand (Auckland) for 7 hours, London for 7 hours, Rarotanga (Cook Islands) for 10 hours, and a few other spots I probably never would have visited otherwise.
This year, I plan to stay a few nights in Iceland as I make my way through Europe for some of my writing assignments (and lovely visits with friends there, along with good friends joining me).
To find the best layovers, choose your final destination and look for lesser known airlines that have hubs in places like Hong Kong, Iceland, Greenland, Manila, and other places that have a strong tourism push going – or at least that should! – as their airlines, tourism boards, and various similar groups work together to try to get visitors in through discounted fares, free layovers, free tours, etc. in their locations.