What Is The Difference Between “Layover” And “Stopover” In Air Travel?

What Is The Difference Between "Layover" And "Stopover" In Air Travel?

Have you ever booked a flight and wondered, “What is the difference between  “layover” and “stopover” In Air Travel?” These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to very different experiences during air travel. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the key differences between these two types of stops in air travel.

What Is The Difference Between “Layover” And “Stopover” In Air Travel?

A layover is a shortstop, usually less than 24 hours when passengers have to change planes. Passengers typically remain in the airport and their checked baggage is transferred directly to their connecting flight. A stopover is a longer break in the journey.

A stopover is usually for more than 24 hours, which allows passengers to exit the airport and explore the destination city. 

Stopovers can range from several days to weeks depending on what has been scheduled. 

Both layovers and stopovers are common practices in air travel and can offer travellers an opportunity to experience new places or take a break during their journey. 


Example of Flight with Layover

Example of a Flight with Layover in Taipei

A layover flight is a type of airline ticket that includes an extended stop or break at a connecting airport en route to the traveller’s final destination. Layovers are usually shorter than 24 hours and are often included in tickets by default, allowing travellers to make transit connections without having to purchase additional tickets. 

Layovers can be incredibly useful for travellers who need to make multiple connections and cannot do so with one single ticket. 

They also offer a great way to explore a new city while in transit – especially if you have some extra time on your hands! 

However, it’s important to take into consideration any potential delays that may occur due to weather, airport congestion, or other factors when planning your trip. 


Are you looking to explore the city of your connecting airport? If so, it may be worth considering an airline stopover! Stopovers are a great way to break up long-haul trips and visit interesting places for an extended period of time. 

So, what is a stopover exactly?

Different from layovers, which generally last less than 24 hours, airline stopovers are defined as lasting 24 hours or more. A stopover gives travellers the opportunity to truly explore a new place in detail – spending days or even weeks in their chosen destination.  

To book a stopover, you’ll have to look into flights that include them. While these flights may cost slightly more than direct flights, they’re often worth it if you want to explore a new place. 

With so much extra time in your chosen destination, travellers can get to know the city and enjoy all that it has to offer. 

Overall, an airline stopover is a great way for travellers to explore the world in more depth! 

Whether you’re looking for a short-term vacation or extended stay, booking a stopover may be just what you need. 

Be sure to do your research and find out which airlines offer stopovers in your connecting airport of choice as this is the only way to actually book one! 

Here is a tabular comparison of the two terms:

Layover Stopover
A layover refers to a short period of time spent at an airport between connecting flights. A stopover is a longer period of time, typically more than 24 hours, spent at a connecting city before resuming travel to the final destination.
Layovers are usually scheduled by airlines to allow passengers to catch their connecting flights. Stopovers are usually planned by passengers to allow them to spend some time exploring the connecting city.
Airlines may provide basic amenities like food, beverages, and sometimes accommodation during a layover. Passengers usually need to make their own arrangements for accommodation and meals during a stopover.
Layovers are usually not included in the airfare and are necessary for the flight itinerary. Stopovers are planned by the passenger and may incur additional costs.
Passengers do not need to go through customs and immigration during a layover if they remain within the airport. Passengers may need to go through customs and immigration during a stopover if they exit the airport and enter the connecting city.

Can You Leave The Airport During A Layover?

Airport Exit

Photo by Aishah Rahman on Unsplash 

Yes, leaving the airport during a layover can be a great way to explore a new destination and take a break from travelling. However, it is important to understand the regulations and restrictions regarding leaving the airport during your layover in order to avoid any complications or delays. 

For US citizens and permanent residents, no visa is required. However, if you are not from the USA or do not have a valid visa for entry into the country, you will likely need to obtain one prior to landing. 

Additionally, depending on the length of your layover, it may not be feasible to leave the airport since you may not have enough time before your connecting flight departs. 

Therefore, it is best to check with both your airline and the relevant US government immigration authorities before making any plans to leave the airport during your layover. 

That way, you can rest assured that you won’t be held up by any unforeseen complications or delays. 

Can You Leave The Airport During A Stopover?

Yes, you can leave the airport during a stopover. Navigating a stopover correctly can make or break a multi-destination trip. You may be wondering if you can leave the airport during a stopover. The answer is yes, but it depends on some factors.

If you are going on a domestic flight within the US, as long as you have the proper identification and documentation, then yes.

In most cases, you can safely leave the airport during your stopover. 

However, if you are travelling internationally, or to countries that require visas for visitors, leaving the airport without one could get you into trouble. 

If your plans involve staying in a city for an extended period of time during your stopover, make sure to plan ahead and sign up for travel insurance just in case any unforeseen events arise. 

This way, you can travel with peace of mind and be prepared for any surprises or unforeseen changes in plans. 

Can Airlines Add A Stop To Your Flight?

The answer is yes, airlines can add a stop to your flight. It might seem like an inconvenience but in fact, airlines can add stops to flights that have already been purchased. This is known as a schedule change and it’s actually quite common. 

Airlines often make changes to their schedules due to weather conditions, regional traffic control regulations or aircraft maintenance requirements. 

When there is a schedule change, passengers are typically offered two choices: they can accept the change and remain on the same airline or opt for a refund of their ticket price. 

It’s important to note that if you choose to accept the changed itinerary, you may be eligible for additional compensation from the airline. 

This includes reimbursement for any additional meals, lodging or transportation costs incurred because of the schedule change. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that while airlines may add stops to flights, they can’t extend the total duration of a flight beyond what is allowed by government regulations and safety standards. 

Before booking a flight, it’s always wise to read the fine print of your ticket agreement.

This will help you know exactly what types of changes might be made and what kind of compensation you’d be entitled to if such changes occur. 

How Do Layovers And Stopovers Differ In Duration?

An Hourglass

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash 

The duration of a typical layover can vary depending on the airline, the route, and the airport. In general, a layover is a relatively short stop in comparison to a stopover during a journey where passengers remain in the airport terminal or on the plane.

Typically, a layover can be anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. However, it can be longer if there are flight delays or if the passenger chooses to book a longer layover intentionally.

A stopover, on the other hand, is a planned break in the journey where the passenger stays in a location for a longer period of time before continuing to their final destination. 

The duration of a stopover is usually more than 24 hours and can last for several days, weeks, or even months. 

Stopovers are typically used by passengers who want to explore a new city or country or who want to break up a long journey.


Duration Layover Stopover
Length of time A few hours to 23 hours 24 hours or more
Purpose To allow passengers to catch connecting flights. To allow passengers to spend time exploring the connecting city.
Included in airfare Yes No, typically incurs additional costs.
Accommodations Basic amenities such as food, beverages, and sometimes accommodation may be provided by airlines. Passengers usually need to make their own arrangements for accommodation and meals.
Customs and Immigration Passengers do not need to go through customs and immigration if they remain within the airport. Passengers may need to go through customs and immigration if they exit the airport and enter the connecting city.
Typical duration A few hours to 23 hours 24 to 48 hours, but can be longer depending on the airline and travel itinerary.

Note: The duration allowed for a layover or stopover can vary depending on the airline and the specific travel itinerary. This table provides general guidelines for the typical durations allowed.


Do You Get Off The Plane During A Stopover?

The answer to this question depends on the specific circumstances of the stopover. In some cases, passengers are required to remain on the plane during a stopover, while in others they may be allowed to disembark and spend time in the airport. 

Whether or not you can get off the plane during a stopover will depend on airline policies, airport regulations, and the length of the stopover. 

What Happens To Luggage During A Stopover?

During a stopover, your luggage will typically be transferred from your first flight to your next flight. It is done automatically by the airline, and you won’t need to collect your luggage and recheck it yourself. Initially, when you check-in, your luggage gets tagged with your final destination label.

When you check in for your first flight, your luggage will be tagged with a destination label indicating your final destination. 

This label will ensure that your luggage is routed correctly and reaches your final destination. 

When you arrive at your stopover destination, your luggage will be offloaded from the plane and transferred to your connecting flight.

Do You Have To Collect Your Luggage On A Layover?

When making a stopover, the handling of luggage depends on how long the layover is and which airlines are involved. For short layovers (under 2 hours) the luggage may be transferred directly to your next flight – known as through-checked baggage. 

If the stopover is longer, or two separate flights with different airlines have been booked, then you may need to collect your luggage at the airport and re-check it for your next flight. 

This applies if changing airlines during a stopover is necessary. 

It’s important to check the relevant airline policies before travelling so that you know what to expect. If travelling to India, all passengers will need to collect their luggage at the first port of entry and clear customs. 

It is then necessary to recheck the baggage for your next flight. 

Do You Have To Go Through Security On A Stopover?

Yes. Even during a stopover, you will have to go through security. Airport security is a necessary step when travelling by air and it must be completed before boarding your next flight. It is advisable to keep all necessary documents along with you, to complete the security check before departure.

Failure to do so may delay your flight or cause you to miss it completely. So make sure you plan ahead when planning for your layover!


In conclusion, while the terms “layover” and “stopover” are often used interchangeably in air travel, they actually refer to two very different types of stops. A layover is a brief stopover, usually less than 24 hours, that is necessary to change planes. 

A stopover is a longer break in the journey, usually for more than 24 hours, that allows the passenger to explore the connecting city or country before continuing to their final destination. 

Understanding the difference between these two types of stops can help you plan your trip more effectively, and make the most of your travel experience. 

Remember to always check with your airline or travel agent to ensure you have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions of your itinerary.

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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