Group Airfare: Stopovers and Deviations
So, you’re leading a group mission trip abroad. You have everything set up with your in-country contacts, and you know what dates you would like to be there and serve, and you are starting to assemble your team. Have you considered doing a post-trip stop in another location, for debriefing, Sabbath, or R&R? Know the ins and outs of group airfare rules?
There are several ways to do this!
One way is to have the whole group do what’s called a stopover. This is when, at the gateway where you make your connection, you stop and stay for a few days instead of moving directly to your connecting flight. Many airlines have pricing which can include stopovers in a round-trip ticket for as little as $50 per person, or in some cases even free! This is always something worth asking about when you’re planning your team’s trip. If your group airfare routing goes through Europe, some popular stopover/connection points include Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid, Copenhagen, and Rome. If your routing goes through Africa or the Middle East, popular stopover points include Johannesburg, Addis Ababa, Dar Es Salaam, Dubai, Amman, or Abu Dhabi. And if your trip will be taking you through Asia, perhaps Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, or Bangkok would work for your team.
Another option, if most of the team needs to travel back home but a few folks have time to keep traveling, is to arrange a deviation from your group airfare block. Many airlines will allow up to 10-20% of the group to have a different return plan. So this means if you have a trip leader who wants to stay longer in country, or a few people who might like to do some rest and sightseeing before returning home, it’s very possible.
Of course, if your team is traveling on individual tickets instead of a group block, there are no limits to what each person’s travel plans may include!
We have found that stopovers and deviations after a short term mission trip can be incredible bonding time for your team, as well as providing some rest and fellowship time while staying in the emotional space of the Mountaintop Moment from being in the field. This can be a chance to see a whole new city or place together, have a few days as tourists, sightsee and eat and pray and worship as part of your post-service rest.
**Note that while some countries might allow connection/transit without a visa, there are cases where officially entering the borders beyond the airport means a visa is required. These are sometimes obtained in advance and sometimes at the airport upon entry. In all cases, please advise your mission travel agent of each person’s nationality and any residence cards they hold, to check the requirements before traveling.
An expert travel planner from Mission Travel would be happy to help you make arrangements for your mission team, as well as any side trips or extra stops that might be great for your group. For a no-obligation quote for your next trip, contact our team online, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (888) 849-8850. We are always delighted to serve you.