Do you spend a lot of time planning and trying to get the best deals for travel? I know I do. One of my goals in life is to maximize my travel without going broke! One way I have found to do this is by visiting multiple cities on the same trip. Instead of a roundtrip ticket, I might do a multi-city ticket where I visited a few cities before I head home. A trip with a stopover in another city is definitely a great way to save money, but it takes time to plan properly.
I do see some people using the terms layover and stopover interchangeably but they are a bit different. A layover is when you have to stop in a city before you get to your final destination. Sometimes you have to change planes and even terminals, while other times you stay on the same plane and just wait. Regardless, flights with layovers will take longer to get to your final destination.
I try to avoid layovers unless I can save enough money to make it worth the travel time that is added to the itinerary. Most of the time you are stuck at the airport during the layover because it takes time to go through security and get from the airport to something worth seeing. You always have to allow extra time because you don’t want to miss your connection. If you are lucky you can find a lounge, like an American Express Centurion, inside the airport to help pass the time.
A stopover is a layover that lasts more than 24 hours. You are able to get out of the airport and do some sightseeing. It’s nice to be able to see multiple cities and it is usually less money than taking separate round trips. In some cases, adding a stopover to a flight may reduce the overall cost. Yes, you read that correctly. It may be cheaper to fly to two different cities than just one!
Finding stopover flights that save you money is not easy though. Unlike a layover, you have to plan the stopover and it is hard to see all the available options. Before I discovered AirWander, it was pretty much trial and error.
How to Book a Stopover Flight Online
There are a few airlines that offer an overnight stopover or long layover flights. The two most popular free stopover airlines are Emirates that offers a stopover in Dubai and Wow that allows Iceland stopovers. If you are only booking stopover flights directly with an airline, your options are limited.
I have done many trips with stopovers using the multi-city option on google flights. For example, say I am based in Dallas and want to visit both Lisbon and Paris. I would use the multi-city function to search for a flight from Dallas to Lisbon then Lisbon to Paris then Paris to Dallas. If I have the flexibility I might try to switch the order of the flights to see if I can find a better deal.
I might even try to see if it would be cheaper if I switched and tried to visit Barcelona instead of Paris or Lisbon. As you can imagine, I could spend hours trying different combinations to try to find cheap stopover flights. There has got to be a better way to search flights with a stopover and I think I have found it in AirWander.
What is AirWander?
AirWander is a website that is designed specifically to make booking flights with a stopover easier. The founders, Ela and Douglas, know how difficult it can be to plan trips with stopovers. They took an 8-month South American backpacking trip and used stopovers to add additional countries to their trip and save money on flights. They became flight hacking experts using spreadsheets and guesswork which was time-consuming.
Ela and Douglas knew the process to find the best stopover could not be perfected without machine learning or artificial intelligence and automating the process became their focus in life. That’s why they launched AirWander, a website that allows you to do a flight search with a stopover, in December 2016.
As of 3/15/18, the website is available in English and Spain. They do not have a mobile app so you need to access AirWander from your browser.
Why I Like AirWander
AirWander is user-friendly and very simple to use to book stopovers. I love the idea that I can use AirWander and plan an itinerary with cities I may not have thought of and save money. AirWander can also be used to book simple roundtrips or one-way flights as well.
It’s pretty intuitive so I don’t need to show you step by step instructions. You just need to enter your home airport and a city you want to travel to. Choose the dates from the calendar, then how many days you have available for a stopover. Then you will get a list of cities that are potential stopovers. You can add stopovers on your outbound or return flight. If you have the time in your itinerary, AirWander can help you figure out a stopover both ways.
AirWander shows you how much the stopover will cost you in your choice of currency. In some cases, you will find some stopovers will actually reduce the price of your roundtrip. Of course, this is only an estimate as the price of your flights will depend on the specific itinerary that you choose.
Once you choose your stopover, you can get detailed information about the exact itinerary to see if it works for you. There are also filters for you to use (time, number of stops, etc) to make it easy to find the best flights. Once you are happy with the flights, AirWander will refer you to a third party site to book. Please double check availability of all flight legs before booking. If any leg has been booked, you will need to look at other options.
Booking with AirWander
AirWander directs you to book on third party sites instead of booking the flight with the airline directly. This is not unusual – many other travel booking sites like Momondo and Skyscanner do the same thing. AirWander only uses two third-party partners – CheapOair and Flightnetwork – that they chose because of their high-quality customer service. AirWander is working on creating partnerships with the airlines.
If you have an issue with your flight like a delay or cancellations, you will have to go through the third-party you booked with to solve the problem. I have heard some horror stories about this, where the third party gives a refund instead of rebooking you on another flight. Also, if you need to change your flight, you may have to pay an additional administrative fee to the third-party you booked with in addition to the fee the airline charges. Finally, you may be more likely to be bumped if you are on an oversold flight. Luckily, if you know your rights, this may not be such a bad thing (hello compensation!) if you have flexibility with your travel plans.
The majority of the time booking through a third party ends up being fine. I have booked with third parties on several occasions and never had any issues. I just wanted to make sure you are aware of the potential risks. AirWander told me that they have not heard about any problems with their third parties and if there were any issues, they would also be there to help, which I appreciate.
Just like when you book with the airline you need to make sure you check the details before purchasing. Look to see if there are baggage fees because that can offset your savings. Also, you will need to check the fare class to make sure you will get frequent flier miles for the cheap flight.
FAQs About Using AirWander
Is there a cost to use AirWander?
AirWander is free for travelers to use. They make commission through their partners.
Is this Legal?
Booking stopovers or multiple flights is 100% legal. Many other sites allow you to book the same thing except you have to know which cities you want to include.
Is there a catch?
Not really. Similar to other flight booking sites, like Momondo and Skyscanner, AirWander does refer you to third-party booking websites. AirWander has carefully selected their third-party partners. You can read more about this above in “Booking with AirWander Section”.
Can I use AirWander to book a stopover (layover) that is less than 1 day?
Yes, just choose 0 days where it asks you how long the stopover will be. Make sure you double check the flight connection time and make sure it is enough time to collect luggage and change terminals, if applicable, before booking.
What happens if there is an issue with one of the flights that causes me to miss the next flight?
That is a concern anytime you book separate flights, not just with AirWander. I would recommend making sure you allow enough time between flights to minimize this risk.
Are there other ways to book a flight with a stopover?
You can use the multi-city option with other flight search engines, but you will have to use trial and error to find the best stopover flights. Clever Layover offers a similar search option, but it is not as user-friendly. You cannot get a quick picture of all your options like you can with AirWander, a true stopover flight website.
Expert Tips to Book Stopover Flights
- You can use AirWander to book multi-stopover flights. It is the best way to see all the options so that you can find the best flight options.
- You may be able to visit a destination that you hadn’t even thought of and save money with a stopover.
- Check to make sure all flight legs are still available before booking.
- Just like when you book any flight, you should watch out for baggage fees and check the rules around the fare class.
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