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Today’s reader question comes from Tim, who asks:

My son is starting to plan a backpacking trip to Europe next summer.  I was reading your article about STOPOVERs, and that sounds ideal for him.
I was looking at showing him how you can find flights like:
    NYC -> London -> Athens
    Athens -> London -> NYC
When I use an online site to price the flights, they always show a 1 or 2 hour lay over.  How do you get British Airways to offer those as stop overs?
a man looking at a lake

Getting stopovers for a Europe backpacking trip

Tim was reading the article British Airways – FREE stopovers, even on one-ways?! – because British Airways charges Avios for each leg of a trip, you can actually have as many stopovers as you want on your Europe backpacking trip.

But…. that’s only when using Avios.  When you’re buying it with cash, there both are and are not stopovers.

Why there are stopovers

When you’re paying cash for a ticket (for our hypothetical Europe backpacking trip), there are stopovers in that you can pick whatever flights you want.  The downside is that the cost of the ticket is just the cost of the ticket, and typically the more legs you add, the more expensive your trip will be.  The good news in that regard is that if you are flexible with your times, dates and locations, you can sometimes get a stopover without a ton of additional cost.


(Remember – The truth of the traveler’s triangle: The relationship between Time, Price and Location)

Why there are NOT stopovers when you’re buying a cash ticket

In the miles and points community, we typically think of a stopover as something that is included in the redemption of an award ticket (using miles)

(SEE ALSO: Stopover, layover, open-jaw? What are they and what’s the difference?)

With stopovers, some airlines will let you stopover (for as long as you want) in a city as part of your itinerary, before continuing on to the rest of your journey.


Back to our Europe backpacking trip

I described that to our original commenter Tim, who is looking to plan a Europe backpacking trip for his son.  I suggested he read my Beginner’s Guide, which explains some of the easiest ways to get started in the “miles and points game”

He mentioned he has some American Airlines AAdvantage miles from some business travel, although I had to break it to him that unfortunately, American Airlines does not allow any stopovers on its award flights.

His best bet for that Europe backpacking trip is probably going to be United miles.  United offers 1 stopover AND 2 open-jaws on its roundtrip international flights.

a map of europe with a route

New York to London (red). You can stopover in London as long as you want before continuing on to Athens (destination; blue). You can return back to New York from Rome (open-jaw; green). You could actually also open-jaw back to another American city as well, all for only 50,000 United miles

Another option is a mixed-airline award, such as flying American to Europe, and then returning back with the miles of United or another carrier.

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