• Many people intentionally book flights with long connections so they can explore the layover city.
  • Airlines capitalize on this trend with "stopover" programs, some even offering free hotels and food.
  • These stopovers benefit travelers, airlines, and the carrier's home country by boosting tourism.

A special segment of adventurous travelers will purposely book itineraries with long connections in layover cities just to leave the airport and explore for a few hours or days between flights.

Airlines have jumped on this growing trend with built-in "stopover" programs, which can come with free or discounted hotels, excursions, transportation, and food at the layover destination.

It's basically a vacation within a vacation.

Although it sounds too good to be true, stopovers benefit everyone involved. Travelers get more choices and don't have to be confined to an airport, airlines gain customers who may have otherwise chosen a nonstop option on a competitor, and the carrier's home country sees a boost in tourism.

Plus, the cheap or complimentary accommodations typically come at a small cost to airlines, thanks to partnerships with local hotels or tour companies.

Not all stopover programs are structured with an emphasis on tourism, though, as some were created simply to offer conveniences during long layovers. Still, they are a way to secure a free hotel and explore an extra city.

Here are 22 global airline stopover programs, each lasting anywhere from hours to months.

Many carriers allow stopovers to be added to a regular cash booking, but some are only available via award tickets. This means the flight was paid for using points/miles or a combination of points/miles and cash.

Air Canada

An Air Canada Boeing 777. Foto: Robert Smith/Getty Images

Air Canada has a stopover option built into its Aeroplan loyalty program. It allows customers booking award flights to add a stop on international journeys and explore practically any city the airline flies to outside the US and Canada.

The add-on costs 5,000 Aeroplan points each way and can only be booked if the stop is at least 24 hours, capping out at 45 days.

Air France/KLM

Air France/KLM. Foto: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Air France and Dutch carrier KLM's Flying Blue loyalty program offers a stopover of 24 hours or more in a connecting city on either carrier or their airline partners.

The option is free to add to award tickets, and passengers can stay up to a year in the stopover city.

China Southern Airlines

A China Southern Airlines Airbus A350. Foto: Liang Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

China Southern Airlines offers a free one-night hotel stay for transfer passengers with connection times lasting between six and 30 hours, though there are some time and route restrictions.

Breakfast and transportation are included for eligible travelers.

Copa Airlines

Foto: AP

Copa Airlines' Panama stopover program allows customers to spend anywhere from 24 hours to seven days in the nation's capital, Panama City, on their outbound or return trip.

The option is free for the first stopover, but a second stopover can cost up to $250 plus taxes. Copa offers discounted hotels and tours that can be booked via its stopover website.


An Emirates Airbus A380. Foto: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Emirates allows a stopover in Dubai with the option to add discounted tours or hotel bookings to the itinerary via its website.

The UAE carrier also has a "Dubai Connect" program that gives passengers with layovers between 6 and 26 hours, depending on the cabin, a complimentary hotel, transfers, meals, and any needed visa.

Dubai Connect only triggers if the customer takes the next available flight. Essentially, you can't intentionally book a longer layover to quality for the free stopover hotel.

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines. Foto: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Ethiopian Airlines' transit program gives customers flying via Addis Ababa a free hotel, transit visa, and transfers during layovers lasting between eight and 24 hours.

The hotel on the airline's website is the Ethiopian Skylight In-Terminal Hotel, located inside the airport.

Etihad Airways

An Etihad Airways Airbus A380. Foto: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com

Etihad Airways offers a stopover in its Abu Dhabi hub, which comes with an undisclosed discount at select three-star hotels for up to two nights.

Two and four-night stays can be booked at more luxurious four and five-star hotels at a 40% discount. The minimum stay is 24 hours.

Although Etihad's website says it is temporarily unavailable, the airline used to allow eligible travelers to use a so-called Transit Connect Package that provided a free hotel near the airport for layovers lasting 10 to 24 hours. It is unclear when or if the program is returning.

Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways. Foto: Suparat Chairatprasert/Shutterstock

Fiji Airways offers a stopover program in Fiji for those traveling to and from Australia, New Zealand, and other South Pacific nations.

Hotels and activities like ziplining and beach resorts can be booked through the airline as part of the stopover package.


Finnair. Foto: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

Finnair allows passengers to book 6, 12, or 24-hour layovers in Helsinki at no additional fare charge and outlines itinerary ideas and information on its website, like transportation, free walking tours, and restaurants.

Customers can book a hotel through the airline and earn Finnair Plus points.


Foto: Airbus

Iberia customers can plan a stopover in Madrid to or from an international destination for one to six nights at no extra cost.

Discounts on hotels, excursions, and transfers in the Spanish capital are available through Iberia.


Icelandair. Foto: StudioPortoSabbia/Shutterstock

Icelandair offers a stopover option for one to seven days in its capital city of Reykjavik on transatlantic itineraries for no additional charge.

The airline offers itinerary help and assistance in booking excursions and tours. Hotels need to be booked separately.

Japan Airlines

A Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Foto: Marcio Rodrigo Machado/S3studioGetty Images

Japan Airlines considers itself one of the "most stopover-friendly" carriers in the world.

The stopovers, which trigger at 24 hours, are not limited to JAL's hubs in Tokyo but can be enjoyed in places like Osaka and Kyoto using the airline's multi-city booking tool.

Latam Airlines

A Latam Airlines Boeing 787. Foto: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Latam Airlines offers stopovers for between one and three days on flights that connect in São Paulo, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife, Manaus, Curitiba, and Belem. Only international itineraries that connect in São Paulo.

Hotels and amenities can be booked via Latam, but the stopover booking is free.

Oman Air

An Oman Air aircraft. Foto: GeographyPhotos/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Oman Air offers customizable stopover packages to give travelers time to explore the country's capital, Muscat, and beyond. An additional fare charge may be applicable, though the airline does not fly to the US.

Packages and a-la-carte options include discounted hotels for up to three nights, as well as organized tours, meals, and transfers.


A Qantas 787 Dreamliner. Foto: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Australian flag carrier Qantas offers its stopovers in a similar manner to JAL in that multi-city bookings can be manipulated to add extra days between flights in layover cities, like Bangkok, Osaka, or San Francisco.

This comes at no extra cost on eligible Qantas fares and can be used on its Oneworld partner airlines.

Qatar Airways

A Qatar Airways Boeing 787. Foto: Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Qatar Airways' stopover program allows passengers with a minimum layover of 12 hours and up to 24 hours to choose from a list of deeply discounted four and five-star hotels. Certain flight itineraries allow for up to four nights.

Nightly hotel rates start at $14 per person for 1 night at four-star standard hotels, with premium five-star beach hotels starting at $30 per person for one night.

Royal Jordanian Airlines

Royal Jordanian Airlines Boeing 787. Foto: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Royal Jordanian Airlines' transit program gives economy and business-class travelers with at least eight and six-hour layovers, respectively, a free hotel room, meals, and transit, assuming certain fare conditions are met.

However, the connecting flight must be the earliest possible — meaning, similar to Emirates, passengers can't intentionally book a longer layover to be eligible for the complimentary perks.

Swiss International Air Lines

A Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A330. Foto: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Swiss International Air Lines, or SWISS, has a multi-city stopover booking tool on its website that allows passengers to find itineraries with extra days in Switzerland.

The cost of hotels and other perks is on the customer, though.

Singapore Airlines

An Airbus A350 Singapore Airlines in 2021. Foto: Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Singapore Airlines' stopover program is available via the multi-city tool, similar to other carriers, where travelers can add hotels, transfers, and activities. The stopover can last one to seven days.

Singapore also offers free transit tours to passengers with layover times between five and a half and 24 hours at Singapore's Changi Airport. It's first-come, first-serve and includes sightseeing around Singapore.

TAP Air Portugal

A TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-900neo. Foto: Matheus Obst/Shutterstock.com

TAP Air Portugal allows customers to add a stopover in Lisbon or Porto between one and 10 days, offering discounts on hotels, food, and activities.

It also offers 25% off a domestic flight to a second Portuguese destination, like the Azores or Madeira islands, to take during the stopover.

Turkish Airlines

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A350. Foto: Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Turkish Airlines' stopover program gives economy travelers a one-night free hotel stay and business flyers a two-night free stay if the period between their connecting flights in Istanbul exceeds 20 hours.

Those traveling from the US in economy class can stay up to two nights in a four-star hotel, while those traveling in business can stay up to three nights in a five-star hotel.

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