Hello my lovely readers,
And welcome to the first article in the Airline series of our new Traveller’s Guide, where I will be sharing some insight into the world of Travel that I have learnt from working in a busy International Airport.
Transiting in Dubai
Now lets Talk Transit, it is a well-known fact that during long haul airline travel, quite often airline schedules don’t match up, even within a carrier’s own network, and you may end up spending hours sitting around an airport in “Transit” before making it to your final destination.
If you have ever seen the film “Terminal” starring Tom Hanks you will have a fair understanding of how tediously long transits can been. Maybe not to the extreme that Tom’s character encountered, but sometimes it can definitely feel like it.
So if you get stuck with a long transit what can you do except for wait? Well my friends, you should always check what you are entitled to, that’s what.
Waiting to board
So what exactly are you actually entitled to while in transit? Well I have popped together a quick list of things you may not even be aware of that you could be claiming, so here we go.
First off – the STPC!
What is an STPC I hear you ask? It is basically airline code for “Stopover paid by the Carrier”. The carrier being the airline you have chosen to fly. Generally most big international airlines have a policy that if you are stopping for longer than 8 hours in their hub city due to the scheduling of one of their flights, they will provide a hotel room for you for the duration of your extended layover.
Yes I am serious! However bear in mind, this isn’t widely advertised and they aren’t automatically given out when you book online. Especially if you book through a third-party website. You need to check with the carrier and see if they provide this service and if they do, you will need to apply for it directly with the airline to ensure you actually qualify for it.
However if you book through your local travel agent, they will know exactly which airlines provide this service and will also apply for the STPC on your behalf.
Some of the lovely transit accommodation
There are of course rules around an STPC, and one of the most important ones is if there are no scheduled flights to your destination in the time you are transiting then you will usually get the STPC no problems. However if you have chosen the cheapest flight with the worst stopover, but there is a more expensive flight departing before your one, then the airline is not required to give you accommodation as you have ultimately chosen the cheaper flight, despite the layover. Even if that other more expensive flight has a layover of more than 8 hours, because you chose the later and cheaper one, you are still not entitled. Just another reason why paying that little bit more may actually work out to your advantage.
Another important rule is quite an obvious one, you must of course be travelling all the way through with the same carrier or one of their codeshare partners. For example if you fly with Korean Airlines to Seoul and then onto France with Air France. You are not entitled to their STPC. However if you fly both flights with Korean Airlines, they will put you up in a hotel for the duration of your transit as their flight from NZ very rarely connects with their European destined flights.
You may also want to check your booking class qualifies for this as well. Certain airlines will only provide an STPC if you have booked in a higher class economy seat, so this usually rules out those seats that are sold on those awesome cheap deals. Your local travel agents will know all the ins and outs of this and can help you get the most out of this amazing advantage.
So here’s how the STPC works.
I was entitled to an STPC when I flew from Istanbul to Dubai last year, as we had a nearly 10 hour layover in Dubai on our way home to New Zealand.
When we checked in for our flight at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, the lovely Emirates check in staff gave us our boarding passes for our three flights that it would take us to get home, and a hotel voucher that had the name of a hotel near Dubai airport on it.
We were advised that we would not see our checked in bag until we arrived in New Zealand as that would stay in transit, so what ever we needed for the night we had to make sure it was in our hand luggage, our toothbrush’s etc.
When we arrived in Dubai we were advised to clear customs and then head to the Emirates hotel and tour counter in the arrivals area.
We found our way there and the staff said unfortunately the hotel on our voucher was full so they were sending us somewhere else (which can occasionally happen, but the airline always has back up hotels)
The transfer came a few minutes later and we were taken to our hotel. When we arrived the staff were ready for us and they efficiently and quickly checked us in. All they needed were our boarding passes and passport. They then told us they would provide a wake up call so we wouldn’t miss our next flight, and told us what time we needed to be on the shuttle back to the airport.
A welcome rest on my STPC in Dubai
Good Morning Dubai – STPC
The room was amazing and even though we had only flown 7 hours it was definitely a bonus to be able to lie flat on a bed for a few hours to get a bit of decent sleep.
After a nice refreshing sleep and lovely shower, the hotel then provided a beautiful buffet breakfast, and we were on the shuttle back to the airport, refreshed and rested ready for our long flight back to Australia and then home.
Once we arrived at the airport, we were advised to head straight through customs. There was no need to check in as they had done that In Istanbul and we had our boarding passes already. So we headed through customs and straight to our gate. Too easy, so unbelievably worth it, and not a single dollar spent!!!!!
Next up – Food Vouchers, Yum!
Airlines will sometimes give out food vouchers that can be used in the airport if they have an unexpected delay on your flight.
These can make a bad situation slightly better, especially since airport food can be expensive. Trust me I work in an International terminal so I speak from experience.
So if your flight is delayed always, always, always check if the airline is giving some kind of compensation out. They usually are and you are entitled to it, so make sure you claim yours.
Another time food vouchers can be given out is if your transit is over 5 or 6 hours, but still under the 8 hour STPC time frame. Some airlines will give you a food voucher to use in their hub city.
Thanks for the Meal Vouchers Emirates 🙂
When I was en-route to Istanbul for my last trip there. We had a 6 hour layover in Dubai. And upon check in we were given a food voucher each that we could cash in at one of the many participating vendors in Dubai airport.
On the front of the voucher was a list of each of the eateries we could use the vouchers at. When you get there it pays to see what each vendor provides in exchange for their voucher, they will have a poster in their restaurant/ food stall advertising what they will provide. You can’t just order anything straight off the menu in exchange for your voucher, but for example some may provide a coffee and a muffin, others a bit more, each vendor is different. We choose to go to an awesome sandwich shop and got fresh hot Panini’s and a bottle of juice – just what we felt like after that long flight.
Yummy Free food in Dubai!
Transiting through Singapore? You are in luck then.
If you fly Singapore Airlines, Silk Air or Air NZ on a return ticket that transits through Changi Airport in Singapore, then don’t miss out on getting your Changi $20 voucher. Now the rules of this have recently changed but your eligibility is that you must be on a return ticket with one of those three carriers. You may have planned a stopover for one direction, that’s fine. But one of your legs you must be in transit. To collect these vouchers, just head to the iShop Changi counter in the transit areas, and present your passport, boarding pass and your ticket showing the rest of your journey and you will receive a $20 voucher, too easy!
Waiting to board the Singapore Airlines new A380
Where can you use these vouchers?
Pretty much every store in Singapore Airport will accept these vouchers and exchange them for goods. Yes this does include duty-free stores as well, however check first as there are a few stores you that can’t use them in. But the added bonus is that it can be exchanged for access to the Ambassador transit lounge for a couple of hours, where you can use the free Wi-Fi, help yourself to light refreshments and access the shower room if you feel like a little refresh before your next flight. You can also pay a little extra to use the nap room facilities for a quick lie down before jumping on your next long haul flight. So why wouldn’t you pick yourself up one of these handy little vouchers next time you travel through Singapore.
Can I leave the Airport during a long transit?
Yes and No. This is ultimately down to the passport you carry, the destination you travel to and the rules of your carrier.
Some airlines will require you take your checked in luggage with you if you decided to depart the airport during transit, so you must always check with the check in staff, before you go off and sightsee. Most airports will however have luggage storage facilities that you can pay to use if your airline insists you take your gear with you.
Transit Time again!
Sometimes your passport requires a visa to land into a country so you wont be able to clear customs even though you are technically transiting as your transit regulations may state you are visa free as long as you do not clear customs and enter that particular country.
But there are definitely places you can go out and see if you strike a long transit. On a New Zealand passport you can quite often go into Shanghai for a few hours if you find your self stuck in transit there. So it’s worth checking what your able to do. It could defiantly break up a long trip a bit if you are entitled to get out of the airport for a few hours. Even just being able to step out and breathe some fresh air and get some sun, will make a massive difference and make you feel slightly human again.
So next time you travel, make sure you check out what you are entitled to. If you book through a travel agent, your agent will be aware of all the latest information and added bonuses that you could be cashing in on, or if you book independently, check out your carriers website or the website for the airport your transiting through. You could end up with some added bonuses to your trip.
Enroute to my next adventure
And as always, if you have any questions please feel free to email me on Kirsty@wanderlustingtravel.com or leave a comment below.