Cabin Crew Life en Travel

Crew Talk: Layovers and Turnarounds

What are turnaround and layover flights? If you’re looking into a flight attendant career or if you simply overheard crew talking about their next flights you might need to know some jargon words.

What are Layover and Turnaround flights?

Normally once a month crews are emailed their roster of flights for the upcoming month. They generally get to know their destinations and the crew they will be sharing their duties with. But not all flights are the same. Airlines that cover both long and short range routes split flight in two categories: Turnarounds and Layovers.

Turnaround Flights

Turnarounds are flight attendant’ most hated kind of flight. Long story short, these are those flights where the crew and aircraft do a round trip to their destination without a staying at it. Airlines will decide for a route to be a turnaround when the total flying time allows for the crew not to go over its legal limitations.

When I used to work as a flight attendant in Dubai, the furthest destinations I would fly to as a turnaround were Athens and Dhaka. These flights were between 4 and 5 hours long. They are really tough to do, which is why crew hate doing them.

Aircraft on Apron at Airport

Particularly the return route is pretty hard. Their reason for that is that by the time you are on the way back your energy levels are running low but you get a new set of passengers. Passengers that expect and deserve the same high standard of service you provided on the inbound flight.

Keep in mind that many turnaround flights leaving Dubai for the Indian subcontinent leave between midnight and 4 AM. Leaving at that time means that you won’t be back in base before 12 PM. To be able to make it through these flights it’s key to manage you sleep before duty.


Layovers on the other hand are flights where the crew stays at the destination and a new crew takes over the aircraft. The amount of time the layover lasts depends on many factors.

It can depend on legal limitations which must be met. This is the case for many long range flights when you fly in excess of 16 hours to the destination. Back when I was flying this was the case of flights to New Zealand via Australia.

Suitcase at Airport for a layover flight

It can also depend on operational reasons. For instance after the revolution the Dubai Tunis flight frequency was reduced to 3 times per week. This automatically meant that the crew would get a 48 hour stay.

You can clearly understand why these are crew’s favorite option. During the layover you are free to do what you prefer. Provided you stay within a 60 mile radius from the airport and don’t engage in dangerous activities.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.