Why Do Flights Have So Many Layovers?


As you preview your trip itinerary, you look over the details of your flight’s layover. It may seem like a hassle to have to get off a plane, get on another, and hope that all of your belongings make it with you, and it makes the trip to your final destination longer. Why do flights have so many layovers?

Flights have so many layovers due to cost logistics, governmental regulations, efficiency, availability, and the locations of final destinations. Unexpected layovers due to weather or emergencies could also occur.

In the article below, we’ll explore these reasons more in-depth, the logistics involved, and how to pass the time during a layover. Read on.

Reasons for Layovers

Layovers, also called connections, are when your flight stops at some point along your route to your final destination instead of going directly from your start to your final destination. Layover flights can help people save money, rest and stretch between flights, and give a little more adventure.

However, some people don’t care for layover flights because it takes too much time to reach the final destination, whether for business or pleasure. 

Often people are willing to pay more for this type of direct flight itinerary. Layovers can happen for various reasons.

Consolidation and Cost-Effectiveness 

A decreased demand for flights, such as during a pandemic, can help airlines consolidate by using fewer aircraft and saving money for their operations. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines were given funds from the CARES Act. This act required airlines to continue to fly in and from every airport they served, if they didn’t, they’d lose the funding. Layovers ensure the funds stayed in place.

Larger Aircraft For Multiple Cities

Layovers could also happen when airlines wish to serve two smaller cities with one larger aircraft. When the larger aircraft lands, passengers will split on the layover to go to one of the smaller cities on a connecting flight.

Availability 

The availability of aircraft and pilots can determine if layovers will take place. There are a lot of logistics in place behind the scenes in the travel industry. If either of these is in short supply, layovers may need to take place to get people where they want to go.

Final Destination Logistics and Emergencies

Layovers may also be needed if airlines don’t offer a direct or non-stop flight to a final destination. This could be because the airline doesn’t operate in that area, or their aircraft is unsuitable for landing there. These routes will need to take a slight detour, a layover, and drop passengers off at an airport to deliver them to their final destination.

An unplanned layover could also happen if there’s an emergency with people on the plane, weather conditions, or pilot concerns.

Logistics of Layovers

Since you, and your carry-on items, are switching planes, there are some logistics involved. It’s essential to review these logistics below and determine if they could affect you and the timing of your travels. 

You can make sure that you don’t miss your connecting flight by keeping these in mind:

  • When you initially check-in for your flight, you’ll be given boarding passes for any connection or layovers as well. This is helpful, so you don’t have to check in for the trip’s next leg.
  • You may need to go through customs, and possibly your luggage will too. Depending on where you land, you may need to go through immigration if traveling from abroad. Your travel attendants or airport staff will inform you of this depending on the location you are in. It can vary depending on where layovers took place, meaning if they occur in the same or different countries.
  • Typically, your checked bags and luggage will be sent directly to your final destination. If a layover is longer or overnight, some airlines will give an option to you to reclaim your luggage for your use. More extended layovers that are longer than a day are called stopovers. 
  • Stopovers are a good opportunity to leave the airport and do a little sightseeing. If your proposed route or itinerary contains a stopover, you can consider choosing a multi-city option with your connecting flight a few days later. Sometimes the cost of flying in this way is the same as a shorter layover.
  • Security protocol can vary depending on the airports for layovers. Generally, you don’t have to go through security for domestic flights. However, if the terminals aren’t connected and have to switch, you must go back through security. You’ll also be required to go through security again if you leave the airport for any reason. 
  • You can leave the airport during a layover. But watch your time so you can check back in, go through security, and board the next plane.
  • Generally, layovers for domestic flights are one hour, and international layovers are two hours. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be on time for your connecting flight. Airlines sell tickets with a minimum connection time, but factors outside their control can affect this. If this might stress you out, you can book flights with a long layover time range between flights, so you don’t miss your second flight.

What To Do To Pass the Time During a Long Layover

If you’re traveling alone, with someone, or with children, more extended layovers can be challenging to wait out. This can be true if your wait time is only a few hours, which doesn’t give you enough time to leave the airport, check back in, and be on time for the connecting flight. 

Make sure you know where your next boarding gate is, and then try the following suggestions to help you and your entourage pass the time:

  • Get moving. You can simply walk around, stretch your legs, and get your heart rate up. Some airports may have a fitness room where you can enjoy some exercise or do some yoga in an empty corner of the airport.
  • Read a book or newspaper. If you have the Kindle App, download a book and read something. The Amazon Kindle is available in both the Apple Store and Google Play, with seemingly unlimited amounts of books to read. Or, check out a local newspaper to help pass the time.
  • Get something to eat or drink. Check out food options at various terminals. Airport bars often have sporting events on the televisions, and you can grab a drink and watch.
  • Check out special attractions at the airport. Airports know people have to wait there, and they often install art exhibitions, historical exhibits, or gardens for travelers to enjoy.
  • Get a massage. Some airports also have in-terminal spas where travelers can get a massage, pedicure, or manicure.
  • Play. Many airports have play areas designed for kids. Older kids could play cards from the gift shop for a bit of entertainment.
  • Take a snooze. Set an alarm on your phone, pop in some earbuds for music, and close your eyes in your seat. Some airports have nap pods or nearby hotel rooms that can be rented hourly for a little rest.
  • Set an alarm. This isn’t just for taking a snooze, either. Your layover time will pass more quickly than expected when you occupy yourself. Consider setting your alarm at a time that gives you enough time to get to your boarding gate. With a reminder put in place, you can enjoy a little downtime without the worry of missing your flight.

Conclusion

Layovers can be a hassle or an opportunity for a bit of adventure. Flights have so many layovers for various reasons, generally related to cost, local and government requirements, availability of aircraft and pilots, or unexpected events. 

By knowing the flight itinerary, passengers can plan out their layover time and board their connecting flight successfully to reach their final destinations.

Recent Posts