How much a long layover might add to your cheap flight in airports around the world

Kelly Emmerton

20 Mar 2018

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Snagging a cheap flight is one of the keys to affordable travel, but there’s often a downside to that rock bottom price tag - an inconvenient stopover in an airport halfway to your destination.

But while we all know the typical problems that come with a lengthy layover like uncomfortable airport lounge chairs and hours of boredom, you may not have considered what it might be doing to your holiday budget. From bottles of water to a nearby hotel for the night, a stopover can add up to be more expensive than you might expect.

“An affordable flight can be highly appealing when booking international travel, but remember that an expensive layover also contributes to holiday costs. An expensive beer, sandwich and snooze can really add up at pricier airports like Los Angeles, Paris and New York,” Mozo Director Kirsty Lamont said.

With that in mind, Mozo crunched the numbers on a few of the main airports around the world, to see just how much each destination would add to your travel spend.

“Mozo found a 175% price difference between airport layover pricing, indicating that some terminals are well and truly more affordable than others,” said Lamont.

Check out the cost of a layover* in airports around the world below and remember to factor these costs into your budget next time you dust off your passport and head off for an adventure!

15. Los Angeles, USA - LAX

A stop over in LA can be a bit of a budgetary stretch at $239.04, thanks to a relatively strong US dollar. This airport also boasts the most expensive bottle of water on our list.

Exchange rate: 1 USD = AU$1.29016


14. Paris, France - CDG

You’ll need to be carrying a stash of Euros for a stop over in the city of love as well, but you may not be feeling so romantic when you consider that a night at the Paris airport could set you back $217.68.

Exchange rate: 1 Euro = AU$1.59007


13. John F. Kennedy International, New York - JFK

If your next adventure takes you through The Big Apple, make sure your wallet is ready to take a hit, because a night in New York could cost a total of $195.77.

Exchange rate: 1 USD = AU$1.29016


12. London Heathrow, UK - LHR

If you’re spending a night in Heathrow it’s worth packing your own dinner, since it offers up the most expensive sandwich on our list. In total, a layover in London could come with a $161.50 price tag.

Exchange rate: 1 GBP = AU$1.77958


11. Frankfurt, Germany - FRA

If you’re stuck spending a few hours in Germany’s biggest airport**, Frankfurt airport, you’ll need to have more than a couple of Euros in your pocket, with a total spend of $148.31.

Exchange rate: 1 Euro = AU$1.59007


10. Kingsford Smith, Sydney - SYD

For a lot of travellers living outside Australia’s major cities, the Sydney International Airport might be a necessary stop on their way overseas - but if that’s the case for you, remember to factor an extra $146.30 into your budget.


9. Narita Airport, Tokyo - NRT

Narita Airport is Tokyo’s main airport and many budget international flights come in and out of this hub. If you’re travelling on a shoestring, be aware that a layover here comes with a mid-range price tag of around $145.10.

Exchange rate: 1 JPY = AU$0.0122196


8. Beijing, China - PEK

China’s biggest and busiest airport, spending a night in Beijing international Capital Airport on your way to the rest of the world might set you back $142.89.

Exchange rate: 1 CNY = AU$0.203832


7.  New Delhi, India - DEL

Spending a night in New Delhi? The Indira Gandhi Airport offers thirsty travellers the cheapest bottle of water on the list, but you’ll still want to add an extra $140.02 to your travel bill.

Exchange rate: 1 INR = AU$0.0198469


6. Dubai, UAE - DXB

The Dubai International Airport is the busiest airport in the world**. Overall, Dubai came out on the more affordable end of the scale at a total $136.64, but if you fancy a cold beverage after a long day travelling then it may not be the best place to be, since it has the most expensive beer on our list.

Exchange rate: 1 AED = AU$0.351253


5. Moscow, Russia - SVO

A stop over in the Sheremetyevo International Airport, one of three major airports in Moscow, could be a reasonably affordable break in your travel plans, coming in at $133.62.

Exchange rate: 1 RUB = AU$0.0226664


4. Changi Airport, Singapore - SIN

Plenty of Aussies find themselves on a stopover in Singapore, but luckily, it's not likely to break your holiday budget. For a night at Changi airport, you’re looking at a price tag of around $120.28.

Exchange rate: 1 SGD = AU$0.977428


3. Or Tambo Airport, Johannesburg - JNB

On your way to an African safari? You might wind up with a layover in Jo’burg before making it to the Serengeti, but don’t worry - a stop at the Or Tambo Airport will likely set you back just $117.99.

Exchange rate: 1 ZAR = AU$0.107657


2. Bangkok, Thailand - BKK

This destination is a favourite for budget conscious travellers, and being in Bangkok for a layover is no different, with a price tag of $116.92 - and the cheapest beer and sandwich on the list!

Exchange rate: 1 THB = AU$0.0410682


1. Seoul, South Korea - SCN

If you really have to have a layover during your trip, there are worse places to be than Seoul, South Korea, the cheapest airport on our list with a cost of just $87.81. The big difference is in the cost of a hotel, which is around a third of the price you might pay in LA.

Exchange rate: 1 KRW = AU$0.00119333

Tackling different currencies during a layover

So you’re heading off to Europe with a stash of euros at the ready - but what happens when your plane touches down in Narita, you’ve got a six hour layover ahead of you, and not a single Yen to your name?

With airport layovers carrying a potentially hefty price tag, making sure you have a convenient way to pay in multiple currencies is super important. Whether you choose a travel credit card or debit card with a low foreign exchange margin, or a prepaid card that lets you load up a number of currencies ready to go, this is definitely something you need to consider before you’re standing in a Tokyo airport, luggage en route to Paris, desperate for a tube of toothpaste.

Travel credit card options for your trip - rates updated daily

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Head over to our travel money section to learn more about your options and pick out a payment method that suits your travel style.

*All prices given in AUD, except where stated otherwise.

**Based on international passenger traffic

Calculations based on advertised airport accommodation, food, water and toiletry rates from 1-5 March, 2018. International XE exchange rates as at 5 March, 2018 applied to convert items to Australian dollars.

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