There’s no shortage of pent-up and put-off travel in 2022. Plenty of New Zealanders are looking at destinations a little further away post-pandemic, and spending a lot more time when they’re there.
With so many travellers planning the long-way round over the northern Summer and inbound to New Zealand and Australia for the year end, travel hubs and airlines are vying for every seat on the long layover.
According to Emirates, Kiwis are less in a rush while passing through air hubs. The number of New Zealanders spending over 48 hours in the UAE on a transfer is up by almost a third, with around six per cent of transiting Kiwis making a mini-break of the long layover.
Of the 1700 New Zealanders flying round trips through Dubai, the average journey is 45 days. More of them are using a couple of those days to rest, decompress and explore the cities most travellers fly through with barely a spare thought.
The UAE isn’t the only destination hoping transfer passengers will stay a little longer.
Some destinations are offering incentives and tours and experiences specifically targeted at passengers transiting the hubs.
I can’t remember being this excited about the prospect of 26 hours in transit.
Dubai International Airport – UAE
The most ostentatious of the seven Emirates, Dubai International Airport has become a centre of gravity for long-haul stopovers. The number of passengers transiting DXB have dropped dramatically to a paltry 30 million a year (from a pre-pandemic high of 80 million). Though that could make it might be the perfect time to fly though the UAE.
The Emirates airline is trying to entice travellers to stop over with a range of incentives – from deals on accommodation to money off flights. To do this they have launched a ‘Dubai Experience’ web portal providing a list of 200 discounted accommodation options, experiences and city guides to the emirate.
An extra incentive is up to 10 per cent off fares with exclusive rates booked via their Dubai Experience website.
Many travellers will be giving Hamad International Airport a hard pass this summer, with FIFA World Cup madness arriving in Qatar for November.
In spite of this the HIA landed a top billing in the 2022 SkyTrax awards as the World’s Best International Airport. Home to Qatar Airways the carrier has been offering stopover packages and mini-breaks from $22 a night.
Passengers flying via Auckland have the option to book into the stopover programme, with options for between 1 and 4 nights. These come in three main flavours from Arts and culture, adventure or topping up on souvenirs for a ‘shopover’.
There are a number of ‘deals’ and discounts for transiting passengers found throughout Doha and even a private beach for Qatar Airways passengers.
These experiences are open to holders of tickets on Qatar Airways and can be booked wile making travel plans or closer to the time.
Those with 24 hours to burn in Qatar might take out a traditional dhow to look for whale sharks in the gulf, or take a 4-hour Discover the Dunes in a safari.
Changi – jewel in the crown of Singapore Airlines’ long-haul routes. The green terminal and gateway to the Garden City opened in 2019. While no airport has been unscathed by travel shutdowns, the Jewel still makes an impact post pandemic. With a butterfly house, 100 restaurants and a 40-metre waterfall descending from the ceiling it is a vibrant portal to the crazy-rich Asian city.
Back in 2020 passengers were being offered $20 Changi Transfer credits to explore the malls, and there were free tours on offer for passengers on layovers visiting Raffles, Palm Sands and the Gardens by the Bay. These were all paused by the pandemic and Singapore Airlines say there are no plans to restart them. However, Singapore remains a popular route between Europe and the Pacific.
After one of the most extreme and prolonged lockdowns – Hong Kong reopened to travellers in June.
While the transport hub is a shadow of its former self, with fewer air links than one might remember, Hong Kong International is aiming to woo back travellers, particularly those transiting Lantau.
As of the end of this year transiting passengers will be handed back HK$120 ($25) in spending money. The SCMP reports there are plans to give cash incentives to those using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to visit the neighbouring on a long layover. The glitzy, floating ‘Vegas of the South China Sea’ is likely to appeal to travellers with time to kill.
Dropping departure taxes and other incentives to airport retailers and airlines are aimed at boosting the city’s status as an aviation hub.