Given the distance we have to travel from New Zealand to Europe, it is often tempting to think "I just want to get there" and as a travel agency we hear that from many of our clients. However, for 2017 travel to Europe we are seeing greater interest in stopover packages - and for good reason.
So why is there interest in stopover packages:
- Firstly, airlines are encouraging Business Class passengers from New Zealand to take up a stopover package through great incentives that we discuss below.
- Secondly, the stopover destinations are enticing. Many of our clients enjoy visiting popular stopover destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and now Abu Dhabi.
- Finally, taking on a stopover package on the way to Europe does break up a long journey.
There are a range of stopover options and even some of the more competitively priced new entrants to the New Zealand market are offering stopover packages. Our Top 4 favourite stopover packages are:
1. Etihad Airways' Free 5 Star Stopover
Etihad Airways Premium Stopover package is one of the most eye catching. For Business Class passengers flying to Europe from New Zealand, Etihad offers a Premium Abu Dhabi Stopover which includes:
- One free night in one of a selection of luxury hotels / resorts (including the St Regis, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, InterContinental Abu Dhabi). For First Class passengers there are two free nights.
- Complimentary chauffeur drive to and from the airport.
- 2 for 1 specials on experiences in Abu Dhabi including Desert Safari's and Ferrari World
For either a new experience or an opportunity to indulge in true luxury, the Etihad Premium Stopover package is proving extremely popular.
2. Singapore Airlines
When we book clients on Singapore Airlines Business Class flights to Europe (either with Singapore Airlines or the Singapore Airlines / Air New Zealand joint venture flights), we can access discounted stopover packages which include:
- Accommodation for one night (different properties are available depending on budget).
- Airport‐hotel‐airport transfers on seat‐in‐coach basis or shuttle bus (see terms and conditions for update).
- SIA Boarding Pass Privileges
- 50% discount on a la carte food menu (food items only) and/or buffet meals at designated food outlet at your hotel.
While in Singapore there are a range of discounted and free attractions that come with the stopover package including:
- Singapore Cable Car (skypass)
- Universal Studios Singapore®
- Sentosa Admission + admission to 2 out of 9 attractions
- 1‐Altitude Gallery & Bar (entry after 6.30pm)
- National Gallery Singapore
- Alive Museum
- MINT Museum of Toys
- National Orchid Garden
- Singapore River Bumboat Cruise
- Jurong Bird Park (tram not included)
- Singapore Zoo (tram not included)
- The Original Singapore Walks® (choose 1 out of 5 tours)
- $5 Chinatown Food Street voucher
- Singapore Flyer
- Malay Heritage Centre
- Singapore Philatelic Museum
- ClimbMax (Choice of 1 course)
- Satay Set at Satay By The Bay
- Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
- Hop‐on, Hop‐off Bus
- Gardens by the Bay (2 conservatories)
Attractions included in the stopover packages can change so we can advise on the latest inclusions at the appropriate time.
Emirates continues to be one of the most popular Business Class airlines flying from New Zealand to Europe and Dubai is an intriguing playground for visitors. Like Singapore Airlines, Emirates offers discounted stopover packages to encourage Business Class passengers to take time to explore Dubai. The Emirates stopover packages generally include:
- 96 Hour visas and 1-month visas available at attractive rates.
- All hotels* now offer 24-hour check in/ check out.
- All packages include Meet and Assist at Dubai International Airport by a uniformed Arabian Adventures representative.
- VIP meet and assist or lounge access add-ons with Marhaba.
- Welcome Pack on arrival which includes the following: A Useful Information on Dubai leaflet, 2 postcards, Tours & Safaris brochure, Office Number of our Duty Officer, Name and contact number of the pre-assigned representative, 24 hours emergency number.
- Return transfers between Dubai International Airport and the hotel.
- No penalty for bookings altered or cancelled up to 72 hours prior to the scheduled arrival into Dubai.
- Available to all passengers regardless of class of travel.
- Packages confirmed instantly with live availability.
- May be purchased in both directions of travel to/ from onward Emirates’ destinations.
All local taxes and service charges as applicable at the time of purchase with the exception of the Tourism Dirham to be charged locally upon check-out.
4. Cathay Pacific - Hong Kong and Macau
Cathay Pacific wowed Business Class travellers to Europe in 2016 with free side trips into Asia for Business Class passengers. For the 2017 Earlybirds the incentive to fly with Cathay Pacific is simpler - the Business Class airfares to Europe are really really good.
Now that is not to say that a side trip into Asia or a Hong Kong stopover still isn't on the cards (and Fine Travel consultant John Lynam did this when he flew to South Africa this year to experience a Rovos Rail journey). Cathay Pacific provides for Asia "Discovery Fares" from Hong Kong to destinations in Asia on its network.
Hong Kong stopovers are generally allowed with the Business Class Earlybird airfares to Europe and this opens up the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and destinations such as Macau. From the Hong Kong International Airport passengers can catch a high speed ferry to Macau (similar in time and distance to catching a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke). And a tip from Fine Travel: board the ferry in Hong Kong before clearing customs. The process is much easier and you clear customs in Macau instead.
Regardless of the route you plan to take to Europe, we are seeing an increased interest in breaking up a journey with stopovers. From Etihad's very enticing free five star stopover to the benefits of Cathay Pacific's extensive Asian network, the opportunity to make your European holiday about more than just Europe is very much available.