Explore “Transit” Cities for Free

Imagine spending a full day or night in an exciting city like Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai or Tokyo – for no cost at all! By taking advantage of a small but significant loophole, our members have been able to enjoy the sights and sounds of all of these cities, and many more, for free.

The trick is that layovers between flights are only considered as “stopovers” if they are greater than 24 hours. If the time between flights is less than 24 hours, then this is known as a “transit”. It doesn’t matter if the transit time is one hour or 23 hours.

There are numerous reasons why the difference between a “stopover” and a “transit” matters. Firstly, some airlines charge extra to break up the trip with a stopover. And on some types of tickets (especially award bookings), stopovers are not permitted at all. Ordinarily, you would have to book separate tickets – often at a higher price – in order to break the journey. By stopping for just under 24 hours, you can break the journey and explore a new city without paying extra to do so.

Various airport, arrival and departure taxes may be added in some instances if stopping over. A common example is the UK Air Passenger Duty which can add up to $300 to the cost of a flight. But if your stop in the UK is only a “transit”, this tax won’t be payable. This is one reason that a number of members enjoy visiting London for “dinner”.

Have done a 23 hour transit in NYC, that was fun. Doing one in LHR next year. So literally going to London for dinner.

Extended transits can be a great way to visit an extra city during any trip, so it’s no surprise that these are popular with our members, especially when flying on frequent flyer points. Many of our members have shared their experiences of long transits and there are some fantastic stories to be told!

It’s a great way to see a little bit of a city that you might not otherwise get to see, though it can be very rushed and you may end up not seeing much of the city at all. I’ve done this in BKK, HKG, NRT, ICN and TPE and had some excellent ’24 hours’ and some pretty ordinary ones.

Singapore is a popular transit point for breaking up the trip between Australia and Europe.

When I was flying SQ between Syd and Europe, I was always booking with an 8 hr gap in SIN between my flights each way. Made for a great 5-6 hr arvo stopover, exploring the city bit by bit. The MRT gets you from Changi to the city in 30 mins, and once I tried the city tour shuttle Changi run for people on long stopovers…

Depending on the city, there are a host of different ways to make the most of a short layover. Taking a tour of the city is often a great way to see the highlights of any city within a few hours. Others prefer a less-structured approach and are happy to simply head into the city and find a nice bar or restaurant. For others, maximising rest is the biggest advantage and a hotel is sought for a few hours of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Share your experience HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]