Layovers when traveling to the U.S. are inevitable. But there’s no reason you can’t make it an enjoyable experience.
Depending on the airline, your flight will stop in either Europe or in the Middle East if you are traveling the Atlantic route, or it will stop in Asia if you are traveling the Pacific route.
Chart of Airline Transit Locations
But no matter where it stops, you need to be prepared to sit for a long time. Here are some tips on what to do on a layover.
Keep an ear out before your layover
Before approaching the stopover, you will hear announcements for various things like local time, weather, and information about your onward journey. Listen to these instructions carefully, as the final destination may differ for different people. Information about the departure gate number, terminal number, etc., may be available on the TV screen, as well. The terminal and gate number information may also be printed on your boarding pass.
At the international stopover, you are generally required to exit the aircraft, regardless of whether you will be boarding the same aircraft again. While deplaning, you must carry all your personal belongings with you for security reasons. Even if you are boarding the same aircraft again, it must be emptied completely for cleaning, refueling, and restocking of supplies.
In some cases, you are allowed to remain on the aircraft.
The stopover usually lasts a few hours.
Once you’re at your layover airport
Once you are inside the airport, you can move around freely. If you wish, you may buy something to eat or drink. However, you may not be hungry, as you may have eaten on the airplane. You will also receive food on the next flight. You may want to freshen up in the restrooms located in the airport. Shower facilities are generally not provided at the airport, except for first and business-class passengers in the dedicated lounge.
Airport Tip: It’s always advisable to keep your watch in sync with the current time zone.
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Duty-free shopping is possibly the biggest timepass at an airport.
There are typically many duty-free shops around the airport. You may purchase many items duty-free, such as liquor, perfumes, cigarettes, chocolates, etc. You can buy these items as gifts for your U.S. contacts, within your duty-free allowance.
Long layover tip: Try not to rely too much on duty-free shopping for entertainment. Bring along a book so you don’t spend too much money.
As most airports are very large, locating your flight’s designated gate might take some time. Keep your next flight in mind as you plan your activities. Search for your next flight’s terminal and gate number. Airports normally have good directions and maps. You can also ask airport staff for directions to the gate. Once you locate the gate, you can spend your remaining time looking around.
Try to be at the departure gate at least 45 minutes before your departure time. Your hand baggage will be X-rayed again, and you will have to pass through a metal detector.
International stopover tip: Keep an eye on the TV display screens, as it is possible that your gate might change at the last moment.
Though long, layovers when traveling to the U.S. needn’t be a boredom fest. Just time your activities in advance.
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