How to Maximize a Stopover

Ukraine Airlines

By learning how to properly route your flight, you can see more of a city than just the drab neutral colored walls that line Terminal 1. Learning how to maximize a stopover is often overlooked.

A great example of when I kind-of did this was on my trip to Cairo. After traveling across the Atlantic from JFK to Amsterdam, I was able to spend nearly a whole day exploring the historical and unique aspects of the city.

It’s important to note that a stopover is different than a layover. The primary differentiator is time. Typically on international flights, stopovers are >24 hours. Whereas layovers are <24 hours. Domestically, a layover is typically <4 hours.

Booking stopover flights can save you money. Below, I’ll show you how to maximize a stopover.

First, keep in mind that these fare are dependent on what their fare rules are. You’re able to read into the fare rules by utilizing Matrix. You have to click into the flight you want and then click on the rules link (pictured below).

Fare Rules on Matrix

Fare Rules on Matrix

While looking at your fare rules, you should be able to decipher quickly which airlines allow for stopovers.

Let’s say I’m looking to go from New York to Istanbul in June, anywhere from 5-12 nights should suffice on Matrix. The results from my search are below.

New York to Istanbul in June

New York to Istanbul in June

If we drill down into a date, we can see the available fares (below).

Sample Fares from JFK - IST in June on Friday, June 5 until Thursday June 11.

Sample Fares from JFK – IST in June on Friday, June 5 until Thursday June 11.

Now, if we click on the overall price, we’ll be able to see what comprises this airfare (below). You can see that the base fare is only $260 – with the remaining costs being fuel, taxes, etc.

JFK - IST Fare Details

JFK – IST Fare Details

By clicking into the rules, you can search the page for Stopovers and see the details below.

Stopover rules for NYC - IST in June

Stopover rules for NYC – IST in June

It appears that we should be able to have 1 free stopover on the way out to Istanbul that is shorter than 5 days. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll see if the price increases for this flight if we spend 4 days in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Which I highly recommend going to checkout. Kyiv is a beautiful city and part of an amazing country.)

NYC - IST with a Stopover in Kiev, Ukraine.

NYC – IST with a Stopover in Kiev, Ukraine.

After running the search above thru Matrix, we can see that the flight turns out to be just about the same price (below). Except, now you get to spend a couple days in Kyiv.

A Successful Stopover in Kyiv, Ukraine while en route to Istanbul.

A Successful Stopover in Kyiv, Ukraine while en route to Istanbul.

You can see with the flights above that we’re able to take that one free stopover in Kyiv for $9 more than the original fare. Personally, I’m extremely interested in maximizing my time traveling in different cities that I can spend at least 3 days in. If you’re so inclined, you can also look up Ukraine Airlines Route Map and see where else they fly. You just might be able to add on another stopover on your way back to New York for only $75 more (according to the fare rules from earlier). From my experience from searching Matrix way too much, it’s easiest to get a stopover for the same price at the city where Matrix suggested your layover.

The guide that I gave above can sometimes apply to booking award airlines flights as well. From what I’ve read online, the easiest way to book advanced award routings is to just call the airline’s telephone booking system.


Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

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