Flight connections are a fact of life and airline business models are built on the hub and spoke concept. When searching for flights online, usually the one with the longest layover is the cheapest.
Since people like to get where they are going as quickly as possible, the flights with short connections are more popular and therefore more expensive. After all, who likes sitting around in an airport terminal for fun?
Is This The Longest Layover?
In today’s topsy-turvy world, nothing is the same when comes to booking airline tickets. The new regime involves being patient as your flight bookings are cancelled and retimed, seemingly ad nauseum.
Qatar Airways switched some of my flights around for a forthcoming trip. This is no problem at all, however the fun thing is that this becomes my longest layover ever. Clocking in at 20 hours and 15 minutes, it will be quite a while in Doha Hamad International Airport.
Overnight Layovers In Airports
Twice in my life I have spent the night overnight in an airport. The first was in Los Angeles during a little mileage run, where I landed at LAX in the late evening and had a morning flight out. Not a lot of fun, as it was cold and dimly lit.
A better experience was in Stockholm Arlanda Airport last year. They have a 24 hour 7-11 open all night, plus there the lighting and heating is on, so I happily wiled away the hours listening to music between flights.
With a new longest layover coming up, it will be something of an experience. I would usually consider four hours plus quite long, with 2 to 3 hours being the norm. It’s rare that I select an extremely short connection, such as the 45 minute ones offered in Amsterdam by KLM. I find that’s just asking for something to go wrong.
So, what is the longest layover you’ve experienced? Did you hit up an airport transit hotel or spend it in the terminal? Maybe that became a very long lounge visit? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Record for me was 22.5hrs in PVG. Scheduled block time was only 19.75hrs but my luck always dictate that my flights land earlier whenever I am booked in a lie-flat seat. Cleared immigration towards the end of evening rush hour and boarded the connecting flight next day after sunset. And the 2x weekly connecting flight was delayed by an hour. So, from touchdown to wheels up, it was 22.5hrs. Favorite recent layovers are 16- to 19-hr layovers in NBO. Red-eye from CDG, AMS, LHR arriving at sunrise. Then have the entire day to have lunch in a safari/park (nap while… Read more »
Hahaha – I like how your “luck” always dictates the lie-flat seat flights land early. I tend to have the same experience, when those are the ones I don’t mind lasting longer. You really have experienced some spectacularly long layovers in your time. I like the lunch in NBO idea, considering you get to sleep on the drive to and fro. Being able to get out of the airport makes a difference as you can always do some exploration and a tour, as opposed to being stuck in transit. Thanks for the comment, I enjoyed the read!
JFK, 2017. Flight to Dubai (flew with Caribbean airlines connecting to Emirates) had a layover of 15 hours. took a hotel and rested. return had a 10 hour layover – and stayed at the airport (daylight), helped some fellow passengers watch their kids/ luggage, etc. In all it wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t bad either.
I wish American airports would give free WIFI like plenty of the others. Makes weary travelers life so much easier.
They’re definitely long ones. Glad to hear it wasn’t too bad! I agree, free Wi-Fi should be a human right in public places like airports these days. I really don’t like having to pay for it, that’s for sure. Thanks for the comment!
we got to LAX at 4 pm for a 9 pm flight to Taipei..but a typhoon struck Taipei causing damage to the airport and delay of our flight till 2 pm the next day. We stayed in the lounge vs going to a hotel since we could not get any info on when the flight would go. People were sleeping all over the lounge and i found a guy sleeping under my chair on return from the ladies room. The lounge ran out of food and drinks a mess.. when we finally got to Taipei we had missed our flight… Read more »
Wow, now that’s a very long time to spend in the lounge. I guess there’s not much you can do when it’s weather, but it’s poor form to not at least be told to go home and come back the next day. Waiting all night overnight would be tough in that situation. Sounds like an experience, especially with the lounge running out of food and drink! I’d have been very unimpressed. Thanks for sharing that!
Domestic flights I’ve had my share of 5-6 hour ones, International I’ve had overnights in Tokyo because my flight into Narita arrives too late to bus over to catch the last flight out of Haneda for my final destination. Most were due to intentional padding I put in since I would be connecting with different carriers though. I had a 5 hour layover in Houston traveling Corpus Christi – Houston on Southwest, then waiting at the airport until the evening Jetblue flight to Boston. JAL from Boston to Narita, bus to Haneda, overnight at the airport and onward to Kushiro,… Read more »
Yes, the intentional padding with different carriers is generally my go to. I tend to book separate tickets to take advantage of lower fares from other places in Europe and thus far I have yet to miss a connection. Touch wood! That short one is great though! I generally don’t have too many issues if it’s a short connection on a single ticket as I know they have to put me on another flight if the one I was on was late. Makes it easier. Looks like you’re a pro at the long connections. Thanks for that, I too have… Read more »
Qatar Airways offers a free layover hotel in these situations. Assuming there is no earlier flight to get you to your final destination, which you could switch to due to the schedule change, you’re eligible.
Yes, that’s very true, however right now entry into Qatar is restricted to citizens only, so I wouldn’t be able to leave the airport. Thanks for the tip though!
I’ve never had a layover for a connection longer than around 4 hours. However, I spent 10 hours at EWR one time due to a massively delayed Southwest flight somewhere-EWR-STL. The irony was I took a day trip STL-EWR-STL that was originally scheduled for about 2.5 hours on the ground. Just to say I had been to New Jersey. Well, I had more than enough New Jersey that day. Never left EWR because the flight back to STL was on a “creeping delay” status, an hour here, another hour there. I did get turned on to a sandwich chain called… Read more »
I’ve heard that EWR is an awful airport, so I can only imagine that 10 hours there would have been a gripping experience all round. Glad you managed to find a silver lining in Jersey Mike’s – but even so, sounds tough all round, I’m with you, I usually do four or less, it’s enough to give you wiggle room in case of delays. Thanks for sharing that!
I’ve often intentionally booked longer layovers, when I have time, to stop in a different city, often to visit friends, etc. Many times, I’ve done just under 24 hours.
That’s a good point. If you have people you can see for dinner or whatever, why not try to stretch it out as far as you can. It takes full advantage of the stop, that’s for sure. Thanks for the comment!
March 13th, 2020 to today is the longest. Seriously though. My wife and I had a 20’ish hour layover in London (LHR) which I’d guess aren’t that unusual. We got in late in the day and took the train over to the first stop (forget what station) and checked into a Hilton Garden Inn. Got up early the next day and went into London for a few hours and visited a few sites then came back to pick up our luggage at the hotel and on to the airport for our flight that afternoon.
Makes perfect sense to get a hotel then to squeeze in some sightseeing when it’s almost an entire day. In my case I’ll be limited to the airport which should make for a less exciting experience, depending on your point of view. Liked the March 13th, 2020 to today comment – I know how you feel. Thanks for the reply!