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Wednesday, August 23rd 2017

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YVR." - Chris Myden



2017
30
March
How to book flights with free stopovers from Vancouver

Flights with free stopovers

I often see people wondering how they can book a flight with a free stopover.

For example, let's say you're looking at a normal, roundtrip flight from Vancouver to London, UK with Icelandair.

You notice that there's a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland each way - and think to yourself that it would be nice to be able to stop and visit Iceland for a few days (or a week) on the way to London...



This is where Multi-City comes into play

On any decent flight search site or app (or the airline's own website or app), you'll notice that listed beside 'Roundtrip' and 'One Way' there's a third option, almost always named 'Multi-City'.

Here's a link to the Google Flights Multi-City search page for example.

The Multi-City feature is the key to booking flights with an extended stop somewhere.

So, instead of searching for a flight that looks like this...


...you want to click on 'Multi-city' and search for a flight that looks like this...


And if all goes well, this multi-city trip to London with the extended stopover in Iceland (KEF) will cost the same as the regular roundtrip flight to London.



You'll notice that for the Multi-City trip I've kept my departure and return dates the same as when I searched for a normal roundtrip flight.

This isn't a coincidence. It's often easiest to start your search by looking for the cheapest roundtrip dates, and then use the same departure and return dates when searching for a multi-city flight.

Keep the departure and return dates the same, but try playing around with the 'middle' date to give yourself more or less time in the stopover city. See how it affects the price.

Tip: You can also try searching for a flight where the extended layover is on your way home instead of on the way there. It's possible that it might be cheaper, or more convenient flights.



However, keep in mind that it's actually pretty rare for a multi-city flight with an extended stopover to cost the same as a normal roundtrip flight.

Believe me, I know it would be nice if it were possible to extend the stopover length of *any* flight that you found, and have it work out to the same price.

However, the reality is that the price of a flight with an extended stopover is set by the airlines, and very few airlines offer them for free. It almost always costs more. Often a lot more.

And with the airlines that do offer a free extended stopover, the extended stop is only available for their main hub city.

For example, Icelandair, as shown above, almost always offers free extended stops in Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) - which is their hub, on your way from Vancouver to the European cities that they fly to (London, Paris, etc).

Airlines and destinations with the best chance of a free extended stopover from Vancouver

Icelandair - Usually offers free extended stops in Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) on your way from Vancouver to the European cities that they fly to.

KLM - Sometimes offers free extended stops in Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) on your way from Vancouver to the cities in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East that they fly to.

Air France - Sometimes offers free extended stops in Paris, France (CDG) on your way from Vancouver to the cities in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East that they fly to.

British Airways - Has been known, on occasion, to offer free, or nearly free, extended stops in London, UK (LHR) on your way from Vancouver to cities in Europe.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) - Has been known, on occasion, to offer free, or nearly free, extended stops in Tokyo, Japan (HND or NRT) on your way from Vancouver to cities in SE Asia.

Qantas - Has been known, on occasion, to offer free extended stops in Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) on your way from Vancouver to Sydney, Australia (SYD).

So if you want to try and find a flight with a free, or nearly free, stopover from Vancouver...

- focus on the destinations listed above, and use the airline's hub city as the one that you extend your stay in.

- try looking for the cheapest roundtrip prices first, and then use the same departure and return dates when you search for the multi-city flight












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8 Responses to "How to book flights with free stopovers from Vancouver"


    Has Dave been here?
       Dave on March 30th, 2017

    Wow, thanks Chris for this great info. I have tried doing it on my own and your system is much better. Now let's hope we can find one that has minimal cost increases!!

    Has Pat Kirby been here?
       Pat Kirby on March 31st, 2017

    We did this last year on trip to hong kong, took three-day stopover in Beijing with no additional cost. Two years ago another trip to hong kong on ANA stopping over in Tokyo called ANA directly. They allowed a three-day stopover with a $75 added fee. Doesn't hurt to call airline directly and ask.

    Has laura Scully been here?
       laura Scully on March 31st, 2017

    Air China offers a 72 hour Visa-free stopover, for free, in selected cities in China. This is offered by the Chinese government but only when flying with Air China, and there are restrictions in terms of onward destinations, etc. We did this in Beijing this past summer, things were a little slow and unclear at the airport but it all worked out well--check on line blogs for info if taking this option. The stopover was great and we had a blast :)

    Has Jessica been here?
       Jessica on April 2nd, 2017

    Awesome tips here Chris. You mentioned both the pros and cons which is the best.

    Your readers need to bear in mind that when things don't go well at the airport eg. slow and unclear, it's always a YMMV (your mileage may vary) situation. Things don't usually work themselves out without frustration and added stress. This ruin a vacation and as always, everyone's tolerances will be different.

    Has Gry A been here?
       Gry A on April 4th, 2017

    As for Japan. I'm not sure when you book on your own, but if you book through a Japanese travel agent (like HIS or IACE), and are flying within Japan, the stopover in Tokyo historically has been either free or $100 for us. So, if you are travelling to Kyoto,Fukuoka,Sapporo, etc through Tokyo, a few day stopover is pretty cheap.

    Also, if you book through a travel agent (like HIS or IACE) if you need a same-day transfer from NRT to HND for your flight, they will usually give you a bus transfer pass, which saves you $40 as well. Usually there's not a whole lot of value add using an agent if you have a simple itinerary. This is an exception to that rule.

    Has Hanif jiwani been here?
       Hanif jiwani on April 19th, 2017

    Hi Chris ,

    I just recently became a patron of your site and am already very impressed with

    information I have read so far. Thanks and keep up the good work.

    Has Chris Myden been here?
       Chris Myden on April 19th, 2017

    Thanks Hanif! That is definitely appreciated, and thanks for checking out the site.

    Has Jim F been here?
       Jim F on April 26th, 2017

    We are flying to Europe in September on Air Canada. The routing is Vancouver to Toronto with a layover of about 2 hours and then on to Europe. I tried the multi city function and found that to stay over 1 night in Toronto caused the cost of my flight to almost double. I called Air Canada as was advised that that's what it is and offered no other solutions. Thanks Air Canada. Gouging?

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