What's your preferred city for transit or stopover?

By David Flynn , March 17 2016
What's your preferred city for transit or stopover?

It's been almost three years since Qantas and Emirates joined forces in an alliance which, among other things, saw Dubai replace Singapore as the Flying Kangaroo's international hub.

And it's been a year since Australian Business Traveller last asked readers which cities they prefer to use for a transit or stopover en route to the UK or Europe.

That 2015 poll saw Singapore and Hong Kong pegged well ahead of Dubai (the respective numbers: 43%, 29% and 11%).

Dubai still enjoys pole position in terms of sheer traffic, with Qantas and Emirates both feeding into the UAE metropolis.

But the continued popularity of Singapore Airlines and its excellent connections keep the former Qantas hub of Singapore high up on the grid, with an assist by flights from other airlines including Finnair, Lufthansa and Swiss.

Cathay Pacific has certainly seen enough of an uptick in bookings to upgrade two of its Sydney-Hong Kong flights to large Boeing 777-300ER jets, with Melbourne now also in the mix.

The appeal of both Singapore and Hong Kong is boosted when travellers choose break their journey with one or two nights in those Asian business hubs.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there: other popular options for stopovers en route to the UK or Europe include Abu Dhabi with Etihad, Bangkok with Thai Airways, Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines, China Southern's 'Canton Route' via Guangzhou, Garuda Indonesia's home port of Jakarta and Qatar Airways' growing Doha hub.

There are also routes less-travelled such as Seoul (with Asiana and Korean Air) and Tokyo (Japan Airlines).

So we reckon it's time to test the temperature once again, and ask AusBT readers: which city is your preferred transit or stopover when flying to the UK or Europe?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 132

It's definitely Sinapore for me. There are so many things I like - it's cheap and easy to get a cab to the airport, the airport is fantastic, and the city is more vibrant than it's ever been. I also really like the fact that I can race out of the office and jump on SQ242 dep SYD at 7pm and get up to SIN same day, without losing a day of leave :)

26 Oct 2012

Total posts 8

I agree-being able to work in the office most of the day and then get SQ242 is ideal.

If there were no curfew,we would see more flights to transit points and the US between 11pm and 2am-check the Melbourne departures to see this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 345

Having transitted through Tokyo last year it is honestly one of the best stopover cities and incredibly underrated. It's a shame it's often overlooked.

QantasFF

16 Nov 2012

Total posts 57

Thanks to you and ABT for the suggestion of Tokyo. I always stopover HKG, sometimes SIN, never the middle east. If QF won't hed their custoners with flights, why not at least codeshares? Could be good for their partnership with China Eastern also.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1390

For a stopover I prefer the Asian cities.

For a transit, Dubai is fine.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 144

You nailed it spot on for me, I rarely will stop-over and the transit through Dubai on the way to the UK is pretty simple and efficient.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

I agree. I look at the Middle East as a transit point. I look at places like SIN and HKG as stopovers

17 Nov 2011

Total posts 27

As a oneworld flyer, Hong Kong is my preferred city for a stop over or transit, with the option to go QF to HKG and then CX/AY to Europe, or CX all the way (with multiple departure times).

I tried the QF-EK partnership to Europe last year, but was thoroughly disappointed by the Dubai/Emirates part of the journey.

As someone without lounge access, I found Dubai airport to be an awful place to transit: very overcrowded (couldn't find anywhere to sit); poor layout/passenger flow (lots of bottle necks transitting); the need to take a sardine-packed bus out to connecting EK flights on non-A380 planes; generally poor eating options; and, huge wait times for toilets where the floor was constantly wet and steamy. 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 98

That'd be Singapore for me. Because at Singapore you will go directly to the gate for boarding compared to other airports where you have to go to another level for departure. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Because taking an escalator takes so much time?

Cut him/her some slack. He/she is describing the centralised versus decentralised security assessment models. Centralised model occurs immediately after collecting BP (e.g. Hong Kong, AU ports, US ports). Decentralised occurs at the gates just before boarding. The timing of when this happens impacts upon the overall airport experience. It may seem subtle but makes quite a difference. The winners and losers are pax who have access to airport lounges versus those who don't. I think the decentralised model is a better experience for pax who do not have lounge access. A centralised model benefits those with lounge access.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2405

You see, I'm not a fan of Singapore's approach to this – I hate leaving the lounge to go to the departure gate, finding a l-o-n-g line (and often no separate line for 'premium' passengers), going through security and then sitting around the departure 'lounge' for boarding to actually commence. In the new T4 terminal Singapore Airport will adopt the more common procedure of splitting arrivals and departures, with one centralised security check when you go from landside to airside (just as most other airports do), and I think that's a big win for most travellers.

Krisflyer

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 1

There's a way around the long queues at the gate at Changi, which is to download the iChangi app, connect to the free airport wi-fi and then search & save your flight details.  You then get alerts as the status changes, most people will head to the gate when the 'Gate Open' status flashes up... my tip is to wait for the first 'Gate Closing' announcement which means the plane is ready to go and people are starting to board, and then head through. By then the queues will be much shorter, to the point you can normally go straight through and directly onto the flight.

Give me that arrangement over the diabolical customs queues at MEL, SYD or LHR any day! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 132

Yes great idea - I find that the screens at Changi will often say 'boarding' when boarding actually hasn't commenced - which makes sense as some of the gates can be a bit of a walk. The gates close 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Turn up 15 - 20 minutes beforehand and you're fine.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2405

Excellent tip, Dave! :)

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 994

I haven't waited more then 5 minutes for gate security in SIN for 6 years.

 

I'd prefer connections through east/south east aisa more then the middle east. SIN, TYO and HKG, followed by ICN and KUL before DOH, DXB or AUH.

Not Dubai.

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 1

Hi david i hope you realize that your poll is flawed. By opening a new internet page you are able to vote again. So in theory its irrelevant what the outcome is with poll as one person could ultimately be responsible for all of singapores votes as an example.

You can submit a vote again from a new window but the system recognises that you're using the same computer and disregards your additional votes, but still displays the overall results.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 488

4 computers 4 votes for Singapore any day

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 215

Singapore or Hong Kong love both

can I vote for both!! 

Qantas

13 Jun 2015

Total posts 143

Singapore Airport is an excellent stopover city for two decades. Many things to go to the airport e.g. the gym, a free movie theatre, a fish spa, and a free city tours. They also have a free wifi where people could check emails, surf the web and play games. 

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 994

Assuming people can find the extra stuff like the movie theatre, gym, etc. They aren't very well signposted and unless someone is looking through the airport website, they might not even know they exist.

I know some people who would often fly between Australia and Japan via SIN who knew these things existed, but could never find them. They thought that the upstairs areas in the transit area were premium pax only as that's where the lounges are, and the lounges are almost the only thing upstairs that are signposted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 211

I like transitting at Doha. Easy to navigate, lots of space and great lounge. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

results seem pretty much unchanged from last year

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 762

Singapore. Char siu... 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

Singapore hits all the marks on point!

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 38

Anywhere in Asia for me! I love Finnair via Singapore or Hong Kong or MAS via KL.  

KL is a subperb city for a stopover - the colonial Hotel Majestic is magnificent and rooms start at $140 a night. Great food, shopping and entertainment. 

Singapore is a fabulous place to visit - more expensive than KL but a fabulous mix of colonial and glistening mega-city. Gardens by the Bay, Dempsey Hill for brunch, and Lau Pasat for hawker food. 

And of course only a short hop to Sydney or Melbourne with QANTAS or Singapore home. 

Qantas Platinum

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 48

Maybe an odd one, but my best stopover ever from Amsterdam to Sydney was ... Johannesburg. Admitted, you need more than a day and you spend perhaps a bit more time flying. But to combine the flights with a short safari was awesome. Also because of being half way and still in the same time zone. Otherwise ... Hong Kong

VA

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 1

Singapore. Love to have a smoke out door in transit. Hate smoking rooms tho.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 42

While not an option for everyone, my favourite stopover from Australia to Europe is via Taipei. EVA Air only flies from BNE and only a couple times a week, so it is not suitable for everyone. However the advantage is that I get an overnight flight to TPE followed by a full day enjoying that city, then another overnight flight to CDG, arriving at dawn and feeling refreshed.  As if I have spent two normal nights sleeping, albeit on a plane, with no bad effect from time differences. No jetlag and it works in the reverse direction too. Not great for time poor people but I work better due to rest and the longer stopover.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2012

Total posts 140

"What's your preferred city for transit or stopover when flying to the UK or Europe?"

That would actually have been better asked as two questions. I bet you'd get completly different results for the following:

What's your preferred city for transit  when flying to the UK or Europe?

What's your preferred city for stopover when flying to the UK or Europe?

For me, Doha is the best for transitting (flying straight through) but Singapore, HK or Bangkok are favourites if a stop-over is on the cards. I'd NEVER willing do a stop over in any of the ME airport cities.

17 Nov 2011

Total posts 27

Good point, would be interesting to see the poll broken down between transit and stopover.

For me, I prefer Hong Kong for BOTH transit and stopover, but like yourself others may not mind one of the ME airport cities if it is just a transit stop.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 514

My thoughts exactly, drgmarshall.

People's needs and travel patterns are different. While DXB / DOH / AUH are all fine for direct thru-trips to Europe (the 'get me there fastest' brigade) often a stopver of a day or more is desirable - and that is where the Asia stopover points (SIN, BKK, TYO, KUL etc) become popular. Also, Aisa wins hands down for comfort, since late afternoon / evening departures ex SYD, MEL, BNE) allow you to enjoy the inflight service & relax for 7-10 hrs .. and then sleep on the longer sector from Asia to Europe.

One other (not previously mentioned) advantage of Asia is the proliferation of mixed Economy / Business fares to Europe for the leisure traveller. Finnair and Swiss, among others, benefit well from from this market sector.

Whilst I don't really have anything against transiting the Middle East, I prefer Asia due to its comfort factor.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 387

it sort of baffles me that the hands down preference is SIN and noting is done about it by QF. I know about the arrangement with EK etc but they need to start giving it better consideration and give us, the passenger, the option.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 43

i have tried ME several times and gave up on Emirates, i just travel with another airline to Europe these days Singapore, BA First and Cathay are my picks, the qantas experience in particular the food and seat is just not up to the competition these days and you only need a couple of QF trips per year to maintain platinum status anyway, if you are flying just for the points or stauts credits it really isnt worth it anyway.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

Many confuse transit with stopover.  I enjoy my dubai stopover on QF 1/2,  9/10. The Emirates lounge and freshening up makes all the difference. Easy access and great facilities. As a stopover Singapore is great but if flying for business,  makes little sense to me to break up a trip to Europe simply to stop in Singapore for the sake of stopping over. Like regular business flyers,  you learn that flying is tolerated and to spend as little time as possible in airports.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 514

"As a stopover Singapore is great but if flying for business,  makes little sense to me to break up a trip to Europe simply to stop in Singapore for the sake of stopping over."

Like it or not, non-stop to Europe is not currently a possibility on any carrier ex Australia.So whether it be Asia or the Middle East, a stop-over or transit is going to be required regardless.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 310

There simply is no better stop over city than Singapore followed then by HK. SG is the hub of Asia both for corporate and good leisure, you can jump virtually anywhere in Asia from SG. MPO Qantas were insane to give up SG-UK, DXB is not a corporate destination and not likely to ever be. Business is done between Asia and London and that's where one needs to fly. 

FLX
FLX

10 Dec 2015

Total posts 179

1st of all, I suggest the svy should be splitted between A) transit and B) stopover.

Logically, stopover choice/preference has very little to do with the proficiency+quality of the airport /terminal facility itself.  It has a lot more to do with the quality of an airport's surface access to town center/resort area, quality of nearby airport hotels for short stay between flights, and the popularity/attraction of that town center/resort area as a semi-destination(Technically only a mid-point of a longer journey).  In a sense, a stopover svy captures more about where U like to visit  than how U like to do your flying.

Unlike stopover, transit is an integral part(often mandatory for ULH journeys) of flying.  If focusing strictly on the transit airport choices for a flight between AU and Europe, SIN & HKG are indeed the best choices overall by my experience which do align with this svy result.  If for Eastern Australia-Europe, I do hv a slight preference for HKG over SIN mainly because:

a) Flight path via HKG is the most direct/shortest routing relative to via SIN.

b) Except T3 and the upcoming T4, other terminals @ SIN are actually a bit over-rated IMHO.  This is not the case for HKG which has a very consistent std @ least on par with SIN T3 throughout the entire terminal complex.

However among transit airports fm anywhere to anywhere worldwide, my top picks ranking even higher than SIN & HKG purely in terms of pax experience are:

ICN= More like a inter-galactic space station than an airport terminal.

AMS= THE benchmark to beat in terms of functionality+layout efficiency

YVR(Must be surprising to many)= Terminal with the most clam ambiance that I hv ever been to and that's not because it's not busy(Handles 20m+ pax per yr, more than PER or AKL and nearly the same as BNE).

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 81

No need to get technical. Changi (SIN) for both transit and stopover.

Cheers

FLX
FLX

10 Dec 2015

Total posts 179

Yes, of course.  we need to paint everything in a broad brush...

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

That poll really should speak to Qantas about the preference of Australians on the Kangaroo route

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2015

Total posts 27

I simply don't use QF to Europe now that they have broken their successful QF/BA Asian routes. Australia's future lies in Asia and I have no interest in stopping over at a giant supermarket in the middle of the dessert when I could be doing business in BKK, HK or Singapore.


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