By Steve Dinnen
At first blush, a July 24 Allegiant-Frontier Air round-trip flight from Des Moines to San Francisco looks to be a loser. Forget the reasonable $326 fare. Why would you want to board a plane at 10:46 p.m. on July 24, only to spend 24 hours trying to get to California?
Because of Las Vegas. Hidden in this itinerary is a stop (and a switch of carriers, from Allegiant to Frontier) in Las Vegas. You can let loose at the tables, slot machines, or whatever else attracts you to Las Vegas, and all for a 20-hour free ride by the carriers.
Hidden stopovers often involve a switch of carriers, where flight schedules don’t align well. They’re much more common in Europe, where hops can be shorter and involve interesting city pairs. Try a July 25 EasyJet flight from Naples to Amsterdam, which includes a change of planes in Olbia, Sardinia. You’ll spend 18 hours there, arriving early enough for dinner, and leaving late enough the next day to afford a splash in the Mediterranean. Pretty easy way to check out Sardinia.
My favorite was a Shanghai-Paris run with Qatar Airways. I had a nine-hour layover in Doha, Qatar’s HQ. I would have never left the airport but the airline cheerily lugged me and 20 other people on long layovers all around the city.