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What’s the Difference Between Connections and Stopovers?

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TPG reader Tiffany tweeted me to ask a question about air travel lingo:

@thepointsguy – “What is the difference between a connection and a stopover?”

A connection is when you change planes in an airport, but you’re only there for (typically) 4 hours or less on a domestic flight, or 24 hours or less on an international flight.

For example, let’s say you’re flying on American Airlines from Los Angeles to London and then on to Beirut. You could have an overnight connection in London, and even stay in a hotel. However, the total time between when your first flight lands and when your next flight departs must be less than 24 hours. You can definitely take advantage of that with many programs, as most will allow you to do this for free even if stopovers aren’t allowed. A connection that exceeds those times would generally be categorized as a stopover.

You could spend a short day in London on your way to Beirut even if the airline doesn’t allow stopovers.

I’ll go a step further and explain open jaws. An open jaw is an itinerary that either returns you home from a different destination, or returns you to somewhere that was not your original point of departure. One example would be flying from New York to London, and then flying back to New York from Paris. Another would be flying from Chicago to Berlin, and then returning from Berlin to Dallas.

Stopovers, open jaws and even long connections offer you opportunities to build extra destinations into your trip. For more on how to take advantage of these kinds of itineraries, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at
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