We all know how stressful flying can be. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the ideal flight is one that gets you to your destination as quickly as possible.
Here’s how to avoid layovers:
- Check third-party booking sites to find direct flights.
- Check all local airports to find the best flight options.
- Use airline route maps to find direct flights.
- Consider flying with different airlines that offer direct flights.
- Use Wikipedia Airport Pages to find flight routes.
- Use online tools to find direct flights.
- Search flights in advance to avoid layovers.
- Consider buying one-way tickets to avoid layovers.
Read on for tips on how to understand your travel options better, avoid layovers in the future, and how to find flights with the fewest layovers possible if a direct route doesn’t exist.
1. Check Third-Party Booking Sites To Find Direct Flights
One of the easiest and quickest ways to find direct flights is by first checking on a third-party booking website, such as Expedia, Booking.com, or Kayak. Third-party websites aggregate booking information from all airline websites into one place so that you can compare all of your flight options at once.
Even if you choose to book directly from an airline website to maximize your travel benefits, first checking third-party booking sites is a great way to get a general overview of flight options.
They also show significantly cheaper rates than you might see through other searching options. If you are flexible with things like flight time or limitations on ticket type, these might be a great option to help save money.
Note: Be cautious if you’re seeing significantly lower rates on the same flights from other websites. You may end up with a ticket that provides you with no flexibility, and in the event that you need to change your flight later, this can get you into trouble.
When using one of these sites, you simply enter your departure city or airport, the arrival city or airport, and your travel dates. The website will then generate a list of flight options, giving you the ability to filter your search by criteria such as airline, flight time, or the number of stops.
To avoid booking flights with layovers, filter your search by only looking at direct or nonstop flights and any other search criteria that apply to your travel needs, which will limit the results you see to direct flights only.
This means you will avoid a layover on both your outgoing and return trips.
Again, even if you decide to book directly through a specific airline, this is a much more practical option than going to each airline website individually, plugging in your search, and comparing options that way.
If you are flexible on dates, many websites will allow you to look at a fare calendar, which compares prices and gives you an overview of the cheapest days to fly. Additionally, features like Kayak Explore allow you to choose a departure city and then show you all of your flight options based on the date range.
2. Check All Local Airports To Find the Best Flight Options
If you’re traveling to or from a big city, there are likely multiple airports for you to choose from. Although proximity may be a factor in your search, airport flexibility may allow you more options.
If you’re flying into New York, there are three major commercial airports in the area:
If you broaden your search to include all three of these airports, you may be able to see different offerings from certain airlines and routes based on your selected dates. By opening your search up to surrounding airports, you are more likely to find a broader range of options, which may offer you more choices for finding direct flights.
To determine if the airport you wish to fly out of offers flights without layovers to your arrival city, simply go to their website.
Most airports will have either a flight map with information on flight routes and airlines or a Nonstop Destination page, such as this one, taken from San Jose International Airport’s website:
This is an excellent way to check and see if it’s even possible to fly directly to your destination from your departure airport. If you do not see your destination on the list, that would be a great time to consider flying out of a different airport.
In the example from San Jose’s website above, if you were trying to fly directly to Asheville, North Carolina, you would know right away that you cannot fly there directly.
If your priority is avoiding layovers, you should then consider checking San Francisco International Airport or another Greater Bay Area airport to see if this was possible.
Additionally, some third-party websites or airlines, like Delta, may allow you an “advanced search” option, where you can open your search to nearby airports without having to search each one individually.
Note: If you are relying on rideshare apps such as Lyft or Uber for transportation to and from the airport, consider this in the overall cost of your search. If you find a flight that saves you $30 from another airport, but the airport is half an hour further to your ultimate destination, then it is unlikely that this flight change will save you money.
3. Use Airline Route Maps To Find Direct Flights
If you know what airline you want to fly with, their website and using their route map is an excellent resource.
Take this United Airlines route map, for example. I opened the route map, plugged in my departure city (in this case, I used Portland, Oregon), and it offered me a list and map view of all the cities that United Airlines flies directly to:
While this tool may not work if the airline you wish to fly with an airline that doesn’t offer direct flights to your desired location, it’s at least a great way of checking that airline off your list and perhaps also making a mental note of which cities it does fly to for the future.
4. Consider Flying With Different Airlines That Offer Direct Flights
Often times we want to use mileage points or a mileage credit card when traveling to maximize our return on investment. While this may make sense financially, it does offer you certain limitations.
If your main priority when traveling is finding direct flights, then flexibility is critical.
If you are not successful in finding direct flights using your preferred airline, consider traveling with a different airline for this trip. This may be an excellent time to use a third-party website to find an airline that matches your current search criteria.
In the next section, I will delve into an easy way to determine if your preferred airline offers direct flights to your destination.
5. Use Wikipedia Airport Pages To Find Flight Routes
Wikipedia is an excellent resource for a lot of basic knowledge, including familiarizing yourself with flight routes to find direct flights. Every airport has a designated Wikipedia page. On this page, they specify which airlines fly in and out of that airport and the destinations that those airlines fly directly to.
Let’s look at a famous Bay Area airport Wikipedia page as an example: San Jose International Airport (SJC).
First, go to the Wikipedia home page and type in the name of your airport. It should bring you to a page that looks like this:
In the Contents section, you want to click on the section titled “Airlines and destinations,” in this case, number 5. You will want to look at passenger flights, so if you prefer, you can select the section titled “5.1 Passenger.”
This selection should drop you straight down to the part of the Wikipedia page that looks like this:
This shows you which airlines fly into and out of SJC and which airports they fly to.
Note: If you’re looking to invest in an airline credit card, or start a mileage account with an airline, checking its Wikipedia page is an excellent way of determining which airline has the most routes in and out of your home airport.
In the example above, you would want to create an account with either Alaska Airlines or Southwest Airlines, as they offer far more direct flights in and out of SJC than competing airlines.
6. Use Online Tools To Find Direct Flights
Wikipedia is a great tool, but not the only one out there to help you find flights from your departure city. Let’s take a look at a couple of online tools right now.
Online tools such as FlightsFrom.com allow users to search their departure airport and view route maps, much like the ones that airlines use on their websites. The difference with this online tool, however, is that rather than being specific to one airline or airport, it shows you all the routes available to you.
Here is what the FlightsFrom.com route map looks like out of Portland, Oregon:
These are the route options in map view. I am now able to zoom in on various locations or routes, and when selected, it tells me how long the flight is and which airline offers this route.
Another excellent online resource is Travelmath. This tool allows you to enter your departure and arrival cities and gives you a relatively thorough overview of flight offerings between the two.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out if there are available flights between your two destination cities, Travelmath is very helpful in identifying this for you. It will either show you available flight routes or create a message that says, “We couldn’t find any nonstop flights to [your arrival city] from [your destination city]. However…”
It will then list alternative flight options for you.
This site also offers other helpful traveling tips, such as determining how long of a drive it would be or how much it would cost to drive instead of flying.
7. Search Flights in Advance To Avoid Layovers
While this sounds obvious, we often find ourselves booking flights last minute.
There are plenty of times when something comes up, or we’re feeling spontaneous when we have less notice and flexibility in booking flights. You might need to attend a funeral or a wedding, and you’ll need to get on a flight immediately.
But, if you know your travel dates and location, get booking. Flight prices fluctuate, so it’s not a bad idea to give yourself a week or two to see how prices change, assuming you’re looking a few months in advance.
But flights get booked, and suddenly, our options become limited, so if you find a direct flight that works with your dates and budget, then go for it.
8. Consider Buying One-Way Tickets To Avoid Layovers
Although it is sometimes a more expensive option for buying plane tickets, buying one-ways can be a great way to find direct flights. When buying roundtrip tickets from airlines, you are restricted to the specific offerings that they have available on both your outgoing and return dates.
By booking one-way tickets, you can use third-party websites to help you find airlines that have direct flights on your dates, and if need be, you can mix and match.
If you aren’t committed to using the same airline both ways, opening your search to multiple airlines for each trip is a great way to get a wider pool of options that allow you to fly nonstop on both legs of your trip.
Travelling is painful enough without having to deal with long layovers or boarding multiple planes. Hopefully, this article helped you come up with solutions to avoid having layovers when you travel.
Remember that while it’s always good to be a savvy traveler, there are specific trips in which layovers are inevitable, such as international travel. You will instead want to focus your search on finding flights with as few stops as possible.