When traveling domestically or internationally looking for good flight rates is always a top priority. For me, price came second to flight duration and airline reliability.
This past Wednesday I flew into Seoul, Korea on a United Airlines flight. It was not the first time that I had used the airline to travel to Asia, but it was a good trip experience. After departing from New York(La Guardia Airport) I made one quick transfer in the states before heading to Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. My stopover in Tokyo was chosen for two reasons. One main reason was due to the relative proximity of Tokyo to Seoul since I knew that I would I have to experience a layover and preferred to pass the time in a country I was familiar with. The second reason was due to the limited short-time layover options I actually had to choose from. Back in September/ October when I was flight hunting as mentioned in a past blog, Flight Hunting (비행기 헌팅), I discussed the difficulty in finding affordable flights that do not have layovers of more than 18+ hours prior to arrival at your final destination.
Deciding to choose a layover flight instead of a direct flight was primarily a cost choice. However, in addition to looking for ways to save while traveling there are many advantages to layover flights that might not be known to some.
Layover flights can reap more benefits than some wary buyers may think. Some benefits in which I preferably enjoy include:
- Meeting other inter-commuters: while some people may sigh away from socializing with strangers I have grown more accustomed to speaking to other passengers especially anyone traveling to the same destination as myself. It is a great way to connect with other travelers, and maybe even make a new friend in the process.
- More free meals: depending on the total length of your travel route you are guaranteed by most airlines complimentary meals, snacks, and extra(*in the event of delayed flights or flight cancellations) while you are in transit. I know that some flyers eat before the flight or others carry on food purchased inside of the airport. However, airplane/airline food is not too bad especially when on an international flight. On these flights you receive the option of more traditional meals or international meals based on final destination.
- Seeing new countries: when traveling on a flight with either a short or extended (1+ day) layover travelers can receive free in-transit visas to leave the airport and spend some time in the country that they are briefly stopping over in. This is a great way to scratch off a country or city that you may have been dying to see or would like to explore and maybe visit again on a separate trip. Either way it is a great opportunity to see more of the world while traveling
- Flight savings: when compared to a direct flight layover flights ring in more savings from airline customers who are looking to save. Those who know how much they are able to save when comparing flights often choose a connecting flight. Being able to save in a purchase can allot the rest of your money towards money you may convert(*if traveling internationally), money for goods you plan to buy & bring, money for insurance, money for emergencies, etc. Oftentimes flight buyers buy direct flights because they want to arrive at their destination as fast as possible with few if any delays. However, it is important to note that in recent years the average time for departure for most flights within the range of projected departure time can extend from 10-30 or more minutes due to external happenings (i.e. queuing while taxing from the gate)
- Earning more miles: By traveling with a layover somewhere in-between your final destination travelers receive a major advantage of gaining more mileage. Accrueing and reaping travel rewards/ points through your primary airline or on a travel rewards/cash back card provides you with more to gain than lose. More miles = more points
Overall my recent flight experience went as smoothly as hoped. I enjoyed my stopover in Japan and checking out Narita Airports duty-free stores. I also enjoyed conversing with a retired American army-police officer from the Washington DC area who happened to also be enjoying his layover in Japan before heading to his home in Taipei. It was nice to hear more about his vacation back in the US, his life in Taiwan, and even some history of his army travels. His stories were a great reminder of how big the world is for those who travel and how we should enjoy traveling as often and as much as possible.
Since landing in Seoul and seeing my boyfriend again I am happy that we are starting 2017 together doing just that. While we won’t be experiencing a layover flight on this vacation we will be traveling around the country together. Traveling together actually became one of our favorite things to do when we were together for 5+ months.
For comfort, romance, new experiences, or simply trying new foods we travel with and sometimes without much purpose. Each and every travel experience is unique, which makes us enjoy planning for the next. With that said we are traveling at the moment. Currently, enjoying the warmer weathers of Korea’s beautiful Geoje-do.
Have you ever experienced a long layover in another country? Which do you prefer direct or stopover flights?