22 Oct 2018

In a fast-changing, deadline-driven, global business environment, business travel can often be unpredictable. Meetings in foreign countries are postponed or redirected at the last minute, unforeseen opportunities arise requiring urgent flights to unplanned destinations, unexpected developments such as natural disasters or terrorist activities occur, etc.

Good travel management companies (TMCs), with their time-proven expertise and relationships with suppliers such as airlines, hotel groups and car rental companies, are invaluable when it comes to alleviating the challenges of such occurrences.

However, business travellers should know the true meaning of flight terms such as ‘direct’ versus ‘non-stop’, ‘connecting’ and ‘layover’. Reason is, aviation industry language can sometimes be misleading.

Direct flights are flights from one city to another but with stops along the way; not ideal when the traveller has to attend a top-priority meeting scheduled early the next morning. Another problem is stranded passengers. With a direct flight passengers may miss a connection should any portion of their direct flight be delayed or cancelled.

Non-stop flights are exactly what the name implies. They are flights from the traveller’s airport of departure to the traveller’s airport of destination – without any stops along the way. That is the major difference between direct and non-stop. Should travellers need to get to their destinations in the shortest possible time, they must request non-stop alternative by name.

Connecting flights are from one city to another, with a stopover or layover stop in between to change aircraft. Although they are on one itinerary, for each flight a separate boarding pass is mandatory.

During international travel, a stopover is a stay that is longer than 24 hours. Because a large number of business travellers are frequent fliers, they are aware that they can incorporate extended or even overnight stops at many hub cities, and not get charged additional miles as long as they depart within 24 hours to their final destination. By doing so, the stopover stays in the layover category, allowing travellers enough time to enjoy a full day and night in the hub city.

When travellers know the not-so-subtle differences they are able to unambiguously, confidently and clearly convey their flight preferences to airline reservations staff when making bookings or changing plans. This ability is especially valuable in last-minute, pressure situations.