Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Long Haul? Not If You Celebrate the Stopover; with So Many Enticing Cities to Explore, Simon Calder Explains the Fine Art of Getting the Most out of a Lengthy Journey

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Long Haul? Not If You Celebrate the Stopover; with So Many Enticing Cities to Explore, Simon Calder Explains the Fine Art of Getting the Most out of a Lengthy Journey

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Calder

Your destination is on the other side of the Atlantic or the far side of the world. You could fly there in one go, but you will be missing many great places along the way. Adding in one or more stopover cities will enhance your overall trip, with culture, scenery or shopping. You are more likely to arrive in good shape with a break of journey. And, because of the odd way that air fares and taxes work, you could even save money.

The first city properly to celebrate the stopover industry was Singapore, offering cut-price hotel stays to lure passengers in from the airport. The city-state continues to lead the stopover world. This year the campaign continues, with Singapore Airlines offering the "Singapore Stopover Holiday: for a nominal S$1 (50p), covering a night in a hotel, return airport transfers, unlimited use of the SIA Hop-on Bus and admission into a range of attractions." The deal applies for stopovers from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016; see bit.ly/1kmKEPc for more details.

From Bangkok to Jakarta, every other Far East hub now offers intriguing possibilities. Latterly, the cities of the Gulf have joined in, hoping to be seen as something more than airports where bleary travellers shuffled through dutyfree between planes. China, too, is catching up with visa-free possibilities. If you are flying on Air China, China Eastern or China Southern, then the only stopover options are Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou respectively. The same applies if you choose Air New Zealand from Heathrow to Auckland - on which you can stopover anywhere you like so long as it's Los Angeles - or Qantas, for whom the only way is Dubai. But some airlines offer multiple options, enabling you to experience a different stopover city on the way out and back. On Emirates, you can fly from Heathrow or Gatwick to Dubai many times each day for a flight to Sydney - but one of those daily connections is routed via Bangkok. To Hawaii, you have to change planes somewhere in North America, which allows you to assess the relative merits of San Francisco and Seattle from Heathrow. A good agent will outline the options and explain the fare implications of each stopover combination.

A stopover of a couple of days anywhere from Qatar to Hong Kong remains an excellent way to enjoy some metropolitan intensity en route to an Australasian destination. If you think creatively there are many more options. For instance, the notion of stopping over en route to California or Florida may sound odd, given all the non-stop flights. But North American airlines can offer a wide range of options, which may even end up cheaper than direct flights. Flying from London to Orlando on 1 August this year for a week is likely to cost more than PS1,200 return if you use British Airways' or Virgin Atlantic's non-stop flights from Gatwick. …

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