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I'm Curious: (How) do you plan your layovers? (reposted)

I'm Curious: (How) do you plan your layovers? (reposted)

Apr 14th, 2010, 12:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 112
I'm Curious: (How) do you plan your layovers? (reposted)

I was thinking recently about my upcoming layover in Warsaw (5 hours, not counting the time for lines in and out), and it occurred to me that I wasn't sure how to balance my time there. Did I want to sit in a cafe and people-watch? Did I want to run around and see all of the sites that I can squeeze in? Did I want to find one place/activity and plan my day around that? How spontaneous do I want to be? etc.

And I thought, well, regardless of what I decide to do (and I haven't yet), I'm very curious about what all the good Fodorites are doing.

Once you've decided that there's enough time to leave the airport, how do you decide how to spend your day in this new place? What have you found works best for you (and your traveling companions)? Does it depend for you on whether or not you have already been to the city/have plans to?

Can't wait to hear about them!

P.S. Thanks to Suze for suggesting I repost this here, moved from the 'Travel Tips' section
Hannah_reads_for_fun is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,931
I've only really had this problem once, but it came down to weather. It was sunny spring, so I went to a park and botanical garden in Madrid. In the midst of a transatlantic flight, getting out and walking and smelling the flowers was better than a museum visit in my case.
yorkshire is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,791
I manage the layovers.

If the default itinerary gives me a long layover not usable for anything other than staying at the airport, I actively do what-ifs using the "schedule" priority booking option to stretch the layover to close to 24hrs without adding cost to the trip. I can usually do this for FRA and AMS layovers. With that, I can do quite a bit at the layover city. Stretching the layover to over 24hr skyrockets the price, so I don't do it.
greg is offline  
Apr 17th, 2010, 07:27 PM
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Greg and Yorkshire,
I'm fascinated that you seem to see layovers as something to be avoided... Can you tell me more why that is?

I mean, I took this layover because the flight price was right and the departure time/arrival time from home/to Israel were great. Figured this would be a little tiny taster for Warsaw.... I didn't want to stall and add time to Warsaw since I wanted to get to Israel as soon as I could....
Hannah_reads_for_fun is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Because they are often inconveniently timed (i.e., not enough time to leave the airport), and I just want to head home in a straight shot after a long trip. If it works out time wise, then they are a fine way to spend a day.
yorkshire is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I like to take advantage of a long lay-over, and when we flew to Africa via London, I also combined it with Marriott miles so that we got a GOOD night's sleep before the second long "overnight" flight, and got to see some favorite London spots. Coming home from China, we arranged a 24 layover in NYC and visited our DD.

It depends on the airport and the ability to travel inexpensively "into town" as to whether I'd do anything with a 5-6 hour layover. Haven't really had to face that challenge lately, though.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I'm the kind of flyer who likes to get to the airport early - I figure that once I'm there and checked in I become the airline's responsibility (last trip I had to spend 40 minutes converting an e-ticket to a paper ticket, so years of arriving early was justified!) With just five hours I'd start worrying about not getting back to the airport in time too soon to enjoy much.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 87
I used to do this all the time - and have spent a lovely five hours in Brussels - just enough time to see the Mannequin-Pis, buy some choloates,and eat a lovely breakfast, and several 1/2 days in London this way. But ever since 9/11, I stopped trying to do these layovers because its such a hassle getting throuhg security each time.

For my upcoming trip, I minimized layover times so I won;t be leaving the airport at all.
annalynn is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 576
I definitely see layovers as to be avoided. That being said, I went to Italy by way of London from JFK post 9-11. Orbitz called me 3 weeks out to warn me flight was cancelled & they were rebooking us for no charge (I still trust them hightly due to this!). Best we could do was 9 hours in London.

We took the train into the city - it was very expensive for an afternoon trip, saw some sights, almost got runover, were jetlagged, lost, & did I mention how expensive it was?

I've never tried to leave the airport since, on 8 more trips to EU. If I could get close to 24 hours, I certainly would spend a day out & about.

But I find it too much stress, hassle & expense. Find a decent restaurant, people watch & read through a typiclal 5ish hour layover!
travelphile is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 87
Plus, most airports now have those wonderful chair massages - while I'd rather a full body one, I'll take the chair massage over nothing any day! 30 minutes there can be wonderful.
annalynn is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Annalynn, I agree that a massages sounds great, and possibly the perfect complement to a four hour international layover, say.

And thursdaysd, thanks for the reminder about getting to the airport early-- especially with an e-ticket.

However, my upcoming layover is from 2 PM to 11 PM. Even with lines, I can't imagine sitting in an airport that long, especially with the bus to downtown Warsaw costing roughly a dollar one way!

Is there a cut-off line that you all use? There's the layover that's too short to be safe, the layover that's just long enough for you to relax in the airport, the layover that's long enough for you to leave for a few hours, the layover where you go into the city and have dinner and a good night's sleep at a hotel, etc? Where do you draw the lines?
Hannah_reads_for_fun is offline  
Apr 19th, 2010, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Well, now that I'm retired and have more time than money, I try to avoid layovers altogether. That gives the airlines less opportunity to lose my luggage, too. I just booked a RTW award, and every flight is direct except for a one-stop with no change of plane. I'll spend three days in New York and four in Vancouver before the long flight to Japan, for instance.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 20th, 2010, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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I try to plan layovers with enough time to get me into the airport and on to the next plane.
LSky is offline  

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