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Thursday, July 20th 2017

"I'm a travel junkie who's hooked on deals from YEG." - Chris Myden



2013
16
September
Edmonton to Europe | How to get a free stopover in Iceland

This tutorial will explain how to get a free stopover in Iceland when flying from Edmonton to somewhere in Europe using Icelandair.

Let's start with a basic round-trip flight, using Edmonton to Amsterdam as an example. We simply search for a standard round-trip flight on www.icelandair.ca, or use a meta-search site like Kayak.

Here's an example search, for a standard round-trip flight in May 2014, using Kayak...

http://www.kayak.com/flights/#/YEG-AMS/2014-05-07-flexible/2014-05-21-flexible

...and on the Kayak results page, we see that there is a roundtrip flight from May 10 to May 24, Edmonton to Amsterdam, for $782 CAD, roundtrip, after taxes.


Personally, I find it easier to use a meta-search site like Kayak, where I can search and sort flights in a variety of ways that the airline's own website rarely offers. Once I know which flights I want, I can then either click through from Kayak to the airline's website, click through to a third-party booking site, or just take my dates and enter them into the airline's website directly.

For example, I could take the cheapest dates I found on Kayak (May 10 to May 24), and enter them into www.icelandair.ca, the website for Icelandair, and find the same round-trip flight from Edmonton to Amsterdam for $782 roundtrip after taxes.

Ok, so how do I get the free stopover in Iceland?

We know that May 10 to May 24 has a cheap round-trip flight between Edmonton and Amsterdam on Icelandair. We know that flight also has a stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) for about an hour on the way to Amsterdam.

But we want to spend some time in Iceland, let's say for a week, before heading off to Amsterdam, without the flight costing us any extra, how do we do that?

What we want to do is search for a multi-city flight. This is different than searching for a roundtrip flight. So one thing we can do would be to go to the Kayak multi-city flight search page, which can be found at:

http://www.kayak.com/flights?mc=y

And on this page, we specify the individual legs of our trip, and the dates we want to fly. For example, we want to fly from:

Edmonton to Iceland on May 10
Iceland to Amsterdam on May 17 (if we have decided we are staying for a week)
and then Amsterdam to Edmonton on May 24.

So on the Kayak multi-city flight search page, we enter a flight search that ends up looking like this:


It's kind of like a round-trip flight search, only we've broken it down into individual flight legs. We are still departing from Edmonton on May 10, and returning on May 24, as we know this is a date combination that has a cheap flight.

So let's perform our search and see what happens. You can visit the link below if you don't feel like entering in the dates and destinations manually...

http://www.kayak.com/flights/YEG-KEF/2014-05-10/KEF-AMS/2014-05-17/AMS-YEG/2014-05-24

...and we have the result we hoped for! A flight that costs the same as our basic round-trip flight, only now we can stay in Iceland for an entire week on our way to Amsterdam, as opposed to just one hour.

Here's a screenshot of our multi-city flight details on Kayak:


From Kayak, we can click through to a third-party site to book, or to Icelandair's own website.

Or, again, we could have done the same thing by going to Icelandair.ca initially, and just changing it from 'Roundtrip' to 'Stopover/Return from another city' on the search page (most travel sites label it as 'multi-city'.but Icelandair must have felt the need to be more descriptive).

A multi-city flight is a great way to visit a second destination, especially when it's free, and it sure beats paying for a second roundtrip flight later.

What about getting even fancier? An extended stopover on the way there, *and* on the way back?

Yep, that could be possible. Let's go back to the Kayak multi-city flight search page, and click on 'Add another leg' so that we can now search for a flight involving 4 separate legs.

Now let's search for Edmonton to Iceland on May 10, Iceland to Amsterdam on May 17, Amsterdam to Iceland on May 21, Iceland to Edmonton on May 24.

We end up with a flight search that looks like this:


And when we actually perform the search, we end up with yet again, a very similar flight price of $792 after all taxes and fees (sometimes a 'free' stopover can be a few dollars more).

Again, if you don't feel like entering in the actual search parameters, you could just visit the following link:

http://www.kayak.com/flights/YEG-KEF/2014-05-10/KEF-AMS/2014-05-17/AMS-KEF/2014-05-21/KEF-YEG/2014-05-24

We can now book a flight that lets us hang out in Iceland for a week on the way there, stay in Amsterdam for 4 days, and then head back to Iceland for a 3 night stay, before finally heading home to Edmonton, all for the same price as it would have cost for a basic round-trip flight to Amsterdam and back!

What about flying into one city (ie: Amsterdam) but flying home from another city, let's say, Paris?

Keeping with our example, you could try a multi-city flight from Edmonton to Iceland on May 10, Iceland to Amsterdam on May 17, and Paris to Edmonton on May 24.

So we end up with this as our mult-city Kayak search:


http://www.kayak.com/flights/YEG-KEF/2014-05-10/KEF-AMS/2014-05-17/CDG-YEG/2014-05-21

And when we actually perform the search, the flight for all 3 legs will cost $823 after taxes. It's a a little bit more, as we've added another destination (Paris) into the mix.

You'll also notice that we need a way to get between Amsterdam and Paris at some point. For that, we'd use a cheap one way flight, such as on Flybe for $140 after taxes.

Our total cost for all flights is now around $960, but considering we're visiting Iceland, Amsterdam, and Paris for less than a typical Edmonton to one destination in Europe round-trip flight, we're doing pretty well!

Why Paris?

It should be noted that Paris was not chosen at random. When doing a multi-city search like this, it's often best to stick to destinations that are a part of the airline's own network (or, at least, one of the airline's partners), for the best chance of the stopover being free, or not much extra.

For example, Icelandair's network involves flights between their hub in Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) and the following cities in Europe:

Oslo, Norway
Bergen, Norway
Stavanger, Norway
Trondheim, Norway
Stockholm, Sweden
Gothenburg, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland
Copenhagen, Denmark
Billund, Denmark
Frankfurt, Germany
Munich, Germany
Paris, France
Amsterdam, Netherlands
London, England UK
Manchester, England UK
Zurich, Switzerland
Geneva, Switzerland
Glasgow, Scotland
Barcelona, Spain
Madrid, Spain
St. Petersburg, Russia

Their Europen route map looks like this:

Icelandair route map

So for the best chance of keeping the Icelandair multi-city flight price reasonable, it's wise to try cities that are a part of Icelandair's network of flights.

Why did you not include the Amsterdam to Paris leg in your multi-city flight example above?

Since Icelandair does not operate flights directly between Amsterdam and Paris (their flights always stop in Iceland each way), it can potentially make the multi-city flight a lot more expensive to include this leg.

Let's run the search, and see what happens:

http://www.kayak.com/flights/YEG-KEF/2014-05-10/KEF-AMS/2014-05-17/AMS-CDG/2014-05-19/CDG-YEG/2014-05-21


$4412 if we include the Amsterdam to Paris leg, compared to $823 if we don't! It's a no-brainer that we are far better off just booking a separate one way flight between Amsterdam and Paris.

This is an example of how just playing with one variable can greatly affect a multi-city flight price. On another airline, it could very well have turned out that including the Amsterdam-Paris leg would not have drastically increased the price. All you can do is experiment, and get to know what works, and what doesn't.

Is it possible to get a free stopover like this with any airline? In any region of the world?

No, multi-city flights are not always a good deal. They can range from not costing a whole lot more than a typical roundtrip flight, to costing a *whole* lot more than you would expect, or even more than just booking separate roundtrip flights.

There are certain airlines that are similar to Icelandair in that they will almost always give you a free (or nearly free) extended stopover in their hub city.

KLM for example, always gives free extended stopovers in their Amsterdam hub when connecting to another city in their network. Similarly, Air France always gives free stopovers in Paris. The techniques for getting these free stopovers are fairly identical to the ones described above for Icelandair.

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