Twelve airlines that offer free stopovers

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Today: Twelve airlines that offer free stopovers

It may no longer be a “best-kept” secret: more and more people are learning how to schedule stopover flights and travel to multiple destinations in a single trip using this method (saving lots of money). A stopover flight is a break in an air journey that lasts over 24 hours. You may also have heard the term “layover.” A layover differs from a stopover flight because it involves a brief stop where you typically will not leave the airport. A stopover means that you will have at least one day at the stopover destination and will be able to leave the airport to visit local sights or enjoy other activities. Stopover flights give travelers sufficient time to leave the airport and explore the city and local area where they have taken a break in their flight to their ultimate destination.  Stopover flights may be accomplished for a lower cost than booking separate one-way trips from destination to destination. Several major airlines offer free stopovers, and some even throw in free hotel stays as well. Here’s my round-up of airlines with the world’s best stopover programs.


Passengers on Turkish Airlines with a connection in Istanbul of at least 20 hours can qualify for the carrier’s stopover in Istanbul offering. As part of the airline’s stopover program, all fliers get a free hotel stay: travelers flying in Economy Class can stay one night in a four-star hotel free of charge, and Business Class passengers get two free nights in a five-star hotel. Booking a stopover with Turkish Airlines is a bit more complicated though compared than with other airlines. At least 72 hours before their flight, passengers must send their personal contact details, ticket number, reservation code, desired accommodation dates, and preferred room type by email to a designated program representative. Each country of departure has its own email address, and the airline’s stopover website lists contact information for each country.


The Portuguese flag carrier TAP Air Portugal offers a free stopover in Lisbon or Porto from 1 to 10 days. You can opt for this stopover on an outbound or returning trip. In addition to the opportunity to visit Portugal and its islands, you will have access to exclusive offers making your experience unforgettable, including 25% off any domestic flight during the stopover period, along with a long list of discounted hotels within five regions, including Lisbon, Porto and the Azores. TAP’s hotel list offers booking codes with average savings of 10, 15 or 20 percent off your stay.



When you fly transatlantic with Icelandair, you can choose to add a 1 to 7 day stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare. Hotels are not complimentary or discounted, so passengers should factor these costs into any stopover. during a stopover, travelers can enjoy everything from geothermal bathing to northern lights gazing. On its website, Icelandair offers ready-made stopover itineraries from one to five days, helping passengers to make the most of their time during a stopover in this rugged and beautiful island nation.


The Stopover Hola Madrid program invites passengers to break their journey and discover Madrid with Spain’s flag carrier Iberia. Any stopover can be between one to 6 to six nights at no additional cost to the airfare. Passengers can add a free stopover to either their outbound or return flight and select the length of their stay on the airline’s booking page. Stopover passengers are also offered a wide range of discounts, including 20% off tickets to the Prado museum, a complimentary public transportation card valid for two days, and significant discounts through partner hotels.


Flying Singapore Airlines? Besides enjoying a world-class flying experience, you’ll also have access to the Singapore Stopover Holiday packages. The basic program – which starts from S$40 – provides visitors with a one-night hotel stay and complimentary rides on the SIA Hop-on Bus. A comprehensive package – with prices from S$45 – will grant you access to the perks above, as well as free access to a gamut of activities. During a stopover, passengers can grab a sumptuous plate of chicken rice, discover some of Singapore’s most iconic cultural enclaves and heritage districts, or embark on a breath-taking exploration of wildlife on the River Wonders.


A free stopover with Oman Airways – the somewhat lesser known airline in the Middle East – will always start at the country’s capital Muscat, a city renowned for its blend of old-world charm, contemporary style, and signature Omani hospitality. From here, you can explore Oman’s vast offering of mountain getaways, desert escapes, spectacular coastline or lush southern landscapes. Throw in some dolphins, turtles and turquoise wadis for an unforgettable stopover experience. Stopover privileges include discounted rates at three-, four- and five-star hotels with further discounts on food & soft beverages and spa facilities where available.

Oman Air 787


Turn one holiday into two with a stopover packages in Qatar, a perfect destination for a taste of local culture, desert adventures, world-class shopping, fine dining, and much more. Qatar Airways offers a stayover of up to four days in Doha, with generously discounted hotel bundle rates starting at just $USD per person per night for four-star hotels or $81 USD per person per night for a luxury 5-star hotel. The stopover itself is free and will cost you nothing in terms of extra airfare fees with the airline. Also, you can book discounted tours and excursions, including a bespoke “48 hours in Doha” 2-day package, discovering the Qatari culture with visits to traditional souqs, museums and galleries.


Abu Dhabi – the capital of the United Arab Emirates – is the hub of Etihad Airways and the ideal stopover destination between for any journey between the East and West. With Etihad Airways’ Best of Abu Dhabi stopover package, you get up to 40% off Abu Dhabi’s most exclusive hotels for two to four nights or a complimentary stay of up to two nights at select three- and four-star hotels. If you’re connecting in Abu Dhabi for 10 – 24 hours, you can also book the carrier’s complimentary transit connect package, which includes complimentary accommodation close to the airport (you must book this package though at least five days before your arrival in Abu Dhab).


Promising experiences and sights for every taste and visitor, Dubai and its flag carrier Emirates hold a unique space on the map where traditions, culture, and innovation all meet in an eclectic and captivating melting pot of diversity. You’re guaranteed to experience the magic of it all, no matter how short your stay or stopover – from the moment you step off the plane. When you do book a stopover at Dubai with Emirates – at no extra cost – you will receive exclusive benefits including 10% discount on new flight bookings, 24‑hour hotel check in, and flexible cancellation. You can also choose from dozens of activities, tours, restaurants, and hotels in the city, and add them to your own unique interactive itinerary planner.


Japan Airlines is considered one of the world’s most “stopover friendly” airlines. Booking stopover flights in Japan can help you create a vacation that includes a variety of destinations in a single trip. Using multi-city booking, you can visit Hokkaido for a ski trip and spend time sunning on the beach in Okinawa on the same trip! Not only does JAL offers the ability to book multi-city destinations and use a free stopover, but you can also purchase the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, which allows you to access over 30 cities across the airline’s domestic network.


Finland’s flag carrier Finnair offers 6, 12 and 24-hour ‘layovers’ for eligible passengers with no additional costs to the airfare, though accommodation is an added cost. The carrier’s website also provides helpful insights and travel guides so passengers can make the most of their stay in the capital of Finland. When staying in Helsinki for a 24-hour stopover, Finnair provides a list of hotels to suit all budgets and tastes, with the added benefit of earning extra Finnair Points when booked directly through the airline.


Though technically more of a layover than a stopover due to the 30-hour time limit of eligibility, China’s flag airline Air China offers passengers with a 6 to 30 hour layover a free one-night accommodation (with breakfast) in the hotel located in the layover city, as well as hotel-airport transportation. Cities (and airports) where transit accommodation is provided: Beijing (Capital), Chengdu (Shuangliu), Chengdu (Tianfu), Shanghai, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chongqing, Wenzhou, and Wuhan. Passengers flying in First and Business Class can book luxury transit hotels.

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  1. I used this method to take myself and my partner to Amsterdam for a few days from Toronto when we were going to London. By booking a stopover of fourteen nights we kept our same baggage allowance and had no extra charges.
    I also treated her to KLM lounge at Schipol, which set a precedent as she always wants the lounge on long haul now!

  2. Sounds great in principle, but Qatar Airways “free” stopover in reality upped the fare by USD1300. They claim this was due to specific pricing for the days l attempted, yet the through fare on either of the days requested was lower. This was in Business Class which according to their own tariff allows stopover.

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