Cheree Kinnear speaks to Air New Zealand’s Head of Aircraft Programs, Kerry Reeves, about the exciting changes coming to her cabins. Video / Jed Bradley / NZ Herald / Air NZ
There will be no shortage of pent-up and deferred travel in 2022. Post-pandemic, many New Zealanders are looking to destinations a little further afield and spending far more time when they are there.
With so many travelers planning the long haul over the northern summer and arriving in New Zealand and Australia for the end of the year, travel centers and airlines are vying for every seat on the long layover.
Emirates says Kiwis are less in a hurry when passing through air hubs. The number of New Zealanders spending more than 48 hours on a transfer in the UAE has risen by almost a third, with around six per cent of transiting Kiwis taking a short break from the long layover.
Of the 1,700 New Zealanders who fly round trips through Dubai, the average journey takes 45 days. More and more of them use a few of these days to rest, relax and explore the cities most travelers fly through without giving it a second thought.
The UAE isn’t the only destination hoping transfer passengers will stay a little longer.
Some destinations offer incentives, tours and experiences specifically for passengers transiting the hubs.
I don’t remember being so excited at the prospect of 26 hours of transportation.
Dubai International Airport – United Arab Emirates
The most glamorous of the seven emirates, Dubai International Airport has become a gravitational center for long-haul stopovers. The number of passengers transiting DXB has dropped dramatically to a meager 30 million a year (from a pre-pandemic peak of 80 million). Although this could be the perfect time to fly through the UAE.
Emirates airline is trying to entice travelers to stopovers with a range of incentives, from deals on accommodation to flight concessions. To this end, they have launched a web portal, Dubai Experience, which offers a list of 200 discounted accommodation options, experiences and city guides for the emirate.
An added incentive is up to 10 percent off fares with exclusive fares booked through the Dubai Experience website.
Doha Hamad International Airport – Qatar
Many travelers will give Hamad International Airport a tough pass this summer when the madness of the FIFA World Cup hits Qatar in November.
Despite this, the HIA came first in the SkyTrax Awards 2022 as the best international airport in the world. The airline, home of Qatar Airways, offers stopover packages and mini-breaks from US$22 per night.
Passengers flying via Auckland have the option to book the Stopover program with options from 1 to 4 nights. These come in three main flavors: arts and culture, adventure, or stocking up on souvenirs for a shopping spree.
There are a range of offers and discounts for transit passengers throughout Doha and even a private beach for Qatar Airways passengers.
These experiences are open to Qatar Airways ticket holders and can be booked at the time of travel planning or at any time.
Those with 24 hours to burn in Qatar can take a traditional dhow to search for whale sharks in the Gulf or embark on a 4-hour Discover the Dunes safari.
Changi International Airport – Singapore
Changi – Jewel in Singapore Airlines’ long-haul crown. The green terminal and gateway to the garden city opened in 2019. While no airport has been spared travel disruptions, the gem is still making an impact in the wake of the pandemic. With a butterfly house, 100 restaurants and a 40-metre waterfall cascading down from the ceiling, it’s a vibrant gateway to the crazy rich Asian city.
Back in 2020, $20 Changi Transfer credit was offered to passengers to explore the malls and free tours were offered to passengers with stopovers visiting Raffles, Palm Sands and the Gardens by the Bay. These have all been halted by the pandemic and Singapore Airlines says there are no plans to resume them. However, Singapore remains a popular route between Europe and the Pacific.
Hong Kong International Airport – Hong Kong
After one of the most extreme and protracted lockdowns, Hong Kong reopened to travelers in June.
While the transport hub is a shadow of its own, with fewer air services than one might remember, Hong Kong International aims to win back travelers, particularly those transiting through Lantau.
From the end of this year, transit passengers will be refunded HK$120 ($25) in spending money. The SCMP reports that there are plans to offer cash incentives to those using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge to visit the neighboring country on a long layover. The glittering, floating “Vegas of the South China Sea” is likely to appeal to travelers with time to kill.
Departure tax cuts and other incentives for airport retailers and airlines aim to boost the city’s status as an aviation hub.