Save Money With Connecting Flights

I recently found a connecting flight priced $330 less than a nonstop flight.

Would you intentionally take a connecting flight to get a lower airfare? How about any other reason?

First, my definition of a connecting flight is a flight between two destinations with a scheduled interim stop having a plane change. A nonstop flight has no scheduled interim stops. A direct flight makes an interim stop with no plane change.

The amount of time (layover) you spend in connecting airports can vary between 30 minutes and several days.

If a route has no nonstop flights, then there are forced connections. For instance, flights between Dulles airport (Washington, DC area) and Honolulu connect in a dozen and a half airports, including Newark, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Most people naturally prefer nonstop flights. Nonstop flights minimize the chance of weather delays, baggage issues, and missed transfers. Other people prefer breaking up long routes into connecting flights. Sometimes nonstop flights cost less than connecting flights—sometimes more and sometimes the same.

Back to the opening comment. Last week I found summer fares to Munich, Germany (from much of the eastern US) for over $1,200 (nonstop). I also found a fare of $870 that was nonstop to Munich but with a 13 hour layover in Istanbul on the return.

Personally, I love this itinerary. Saving $330 (over 25%) is great but the chance to tour Istanbul for a few hours is fantastic.

I have an upcoming itinerary that includes an 18 hour layover in Madrid (between a flight from Casablanca to London). Many passengers would view such a layover as an inconvenience. I love the opportunity to be able to visit Madrid for a dozen hours.

Would you endure an 18 hour layover to save money? Or would you even pay extra for the privilege? Have you done or are planning to do such a thing (long layover)?

McCool Travel tip: you can intentionally create long layovers. For example, flights to some Caribbean destinations are only a couple of times a week. You can spend two or three nights in Miami or San Juan waiting for the connecting flight–2 vacations for the price of 1!


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