Alright, before we do anything, let’s quickly clear something up; the difference between a ‘direct’ and a ‘non-stop’ flight - and yes, there is a difference, a big one. One that can potentially add great value to your next trip.
A non-stop flight does just that, it doesn’t stop. This is the flight you want (if you have the option) to get to your destination as quickly and as directly as possible. For the purpose of this article, this is not the type of flight we’ll be talking about today.
By definition, a direct flight could easily lead a traveller to believe that they've chosen the most direct flight to their destination, assumingly non-stop. In reality, as long as the flight number remains the same, a direct flight can have a stop en route, sometimes even a few.
These stops tend to be about an hour or so long, giving airlines time to refuel, to bring on more passengers and to drop passengers off. The flight is sold as a non-stop flight to the first city and a direct flight to any point thereafter, until the last city.
The stop can sometimes seem hidden on an itinerary or even on the airline ticket itself, as there is no change of planes and the flight number remains the same throughout the journey. The stop is sometimes signified by simply stating ‘1 Stop’ on an itinerary, not even mentioning the city the flight is stopping in.
Note: If the flight stops, you deplane and board another flight with a different flight number to get to your destination, you are travelling on connecting flights. Again, for the purpose of this article, these aren’t the type of flights we’ll discuss today either.
That’s right. Today, we’ll be looking at direct flights, and more specifically, value-packed direct flights with amazing stopover options.
There are many flights like this out there, making en route stopovers in various weird and wonderful places, yet few are advertised. Now, the beauty of a direct flight lies in the stopover points, presenting a chance for you to actually build a stopover in that city into your journey, effectively fitting multiple cities into your itinerary for no or little extra cost.
In most cases, the stopover itself is free. Airlines will however collect any departure taxes charged by the stopover city or airport, adding just the nominal extra tax amount onto your fare. Here are some of the over 100 direct flights operated by commercial airlines around the world.
Off to Australia? Why not visit friends in Vancouver on the way? Portugal is full of amazing things to see and do, but if you have the time, why not explore the mid-Atlantic islands of the Azores for a different Portuguese flavour? Finally planning that big trip to India? Break up that exhausting flight with a few days in Amsterdam!
En route stopovers can be taken coming or going and can instantly change the overall feel of your trip. They add another dimension to your journey while giving you a bigger bang for your buck.
3 of the Most Interesting Direct Flights in the World
Route: Guam (Agana) – Honolulu
Airline: United Airlines (UA155)
Stopover Cities: Chuuk (Weno Island), Pohnpei, Kosrae, Kwajalein and Majuro
This flight takes the prize for the most amount of en route stops on a direct flight in the world.
United Airlines run a daily non-stop flight from Guam to Honolulu but they also run another service 3 times per week between the two US islands, which has 5 en route stops.
The non-stop journey usually takes 7 hours and 10 minutes, flight UA155 with 5 stops stretches the journey out to 14 hours and 30 minutes.
Known as the ‘Micronesian Island Hopper’, flight UA155 stops in 5 tiny island nations in the Pacific Ocean between Guam and Honolulu.
The flight is vital for the residents of these islands. Not only does it provide transport between the islands, it also brings in vital cargo and supplies required for everyday life.
For the adventurous traveller, jumping on this flight would provide a unique experience to visit some very small, exotic islands that are rarely visited.
For the not so adventurous traveller flying between Guam and Honolulu, you may want to double check which United flight you are booking.
Route: Vanuatu (Port Vila) – Espiritu Santo
Airline: Air Vanuatu (NF230)
Stopover Cities: Tawei, Ulei, Craig Cove and Norsup
Vanuatu is made up of 83 small islands, 65 of which are inhabited.
Air Vanuatu operates a number of non-stop flights between Port Vila and Espiritu Santo on a daily basis.
Once a week, Air Vanuatu operates a flight that has 4 en route stopovers that covers the tiny distance of 206 miles.
The flight makes quick hops between a number of smaller islands within the nation before ending at Espiritu Santo.
The daily non-stop flights take just 50 minutes, whereas the once weekly flight with 4 en route stops takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
Route: Tahiti (Papeete) – Bora Bora
Airline: Air Tahiti (VT456)
Stopover Cities: Moorea and Raiatea
Tahiti and French Polynesia are made up of hundreds of islands and atolls and air service between many of these are a vital link.
Papeete to Bora Bora is a popular route served by many non-stop flights per day.
Once a week, Air Tahiti runs a direct flight that has 2 en route stopovers, one in Moorea and the other in culturally important Raiatea.
For those that want to get the most out of their trip to French Polynesia, flight VT456 might be just the one for you, allowing you to experience 4 of Tahiti’s most beautiful islands.