The big mistake I made with my layover

It’s a mistake even the most seasoned traveller could make — confusing a layover for a stopover.

And while you might not know the difference, turns out one New Zealander made the error while at Sydney Airport.

In what she thought was a layover, Eleanor Barker was actually on a stopover, and as it turns out, there’s a big difference.

“I sat in the bleak international transfer area as I tried to find a single person who could tell me what I desperately needed to know (that I had gone to the wrong part of the airport),” she wrote for the New Zealand Herald.

“Finding a friendly face was hard, so by the time this idiot left Australia for Abu Dhabi, my bags were heading home to New Zealand.

“Seasoned travellers, I see your rolling eyes, and you’re right to roll them — your girl was not well acquainted with the difference between a layover and a stopover.”

Eleanor Barker mistook a layover for a stopover, and there’s a big difference when it comes to your luggage.Source:Supplied

Ms Barker said her mishap was an opportunity to warn others not to make the same error while at the airport.

“Optimistically, I reckon what I learned could help someone else someway, especially if you use loyalty programs,” she wrote.

“The aviation industry has its own language, and many terms are regularly misunderstood in less punishing ways by travellers who are not me — such as the difference between a direct and non-stop flight.

“Non-stop is what it says on the packet; direct flights involve stops. On a direct flight it is unlikely you will need to step outside your plane before your final destination, but you will wait for other passengers to come and go.

“I got into trouble with layovers versus stopovers. A layover indicates that there is an established connection between your flights — i.e. you don’t have to rely on psychic airlines to magically transfer your bags. This could include a stop as short as 30 minutes (depending upon the airport) or up to 23 hours and 59 minutes on international flights.

The aviation industry has its own language, and many terms are regularly misunderstood.Source:Supplied

“The nuances come into play when travellers decide to redeem their ‘miles’. Most airlines manage their reward programs based upon distance, so it may mean a layover will cost you more money than a direct flight, but savvy frequent flyers often build in extended or even overnight stops. As long as they leave within 24 hours to their final destination, thereby avoiding a stopover, they don’t get charged additional miles.”

But it was the how the airline crew used the term that made things a little more confusing and caused Ms Barker to trip up.

“Airline crew use this term slightly differently,” she explained.

“For them, a layover means an overnight stay, while a connection refers to a shorter stop, just to make it a little more confusing.

“While it’s fine to use the term layover when you really mean connection, you should know (I should know!) the difference between a stopover and layover.

“A stopover can be a layover, but it can also be a much longer stop — often a second destination on part of a multi-stop itinerary. If travelling domestically, a stopover typically qualifies as anything that lasts longer than four hours.”

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