These airlines offer stopovers with free hotels and other goodies

Long flights and multiple hops are part and parcel of traveling overseas from New Zealand.

But a stopover – that is, actually getting out of the airport and spending time in a destination – can be a good way to break up a tiresome journey. Even better when your airline has a stopover program that offers extra perks for doing so.

Here are the airlines with the best stopover perks, from free hotel stays to big discounts on sightseeing activities and local transport.

* Hidden perks that come with your boarding pass
* How to leave the airport and explore a city during a layover
* How much time do you really need for a connecting flight?

Etihad Airways

If you’re flying via Abu Dhabi, Etihad has three great options for travelers keen to spend some extra time in the UAE capital.

The first option is for travelers with a connection time of over 10 hours, but less than 24 hours. The airline will put you up in a nearby hotel, so you can get some rest before your next leg. It doesn’t matter what time your flight arrives – you’ll be able to check in right away.

If you opt to stay longer – one or two nights – the airline will still cover your hotel bill, with a selection of three and four-star hotels to pick from.

If you’re willing to spend a bit of your own cash and really make it a holiday, staying in a luxe hotel, they’ll give you a big discount. You choose from a selection of four and five-star hotels, decide how long you want to stay (a minimum of two nights is required, and you can stay up to six nights), and get up to 50% off. You’ll also get 24-hour check-in, and breakfast included.

Turkish Airlines

Turkey’s flag carrier offers some of the best perks in the business to passengers transiting through Istanbul Airport, with free accommodation and sightseeing tours up for grabs.

Enjoy a free tour while on an Istanbul layover with Turkish Airlines.


Enjoy a free tour while on an Istanbul layover with Turkish Airlines.

If you have a layover of at least six hours, you can join one of their Touristanbul tours, where a guide will take you to some of Istanbul’s most iconic sights, including the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. The tour even includes a free meal, allowing you to sample traditional Turkish and Ottoman cuisine.

But you could also be eligible for a free night in a four-star hotel (or two nights in a five-star hotel, if you’re flying business class). You just have to check if your destination is included, and email the address provided to secure your booking.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines is giving you the option of two holidays for the price of one – or what they’ve dubbed a “bonus side trip”.

Why stay at the airport when you could add on a trip to Langkawi?


Why stay at the airport when you could add on a trip to Langkawi?

Customers flying via Kuala Lumpur can turn their layover into a real domestic holiday, with Malaysia Airlines throwing in free flights to and from your choice of seven dreamy destinations – how about a beach holiday in Langkawi, or a visit to the food capital of Penang?

You’ll just have to pay the local government and airport taxes associated with the domestic flight.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways makes it easy to add a stopover in the capital of Doha – when booking, you just have to select whether you want to stay on the way there or back, and for how many nights.

At the same time, you can choose from an array of heavily discounted hotel packages, starting from around $ 23 for a night in a four-star hotel, or around $ 126 for a night in a five-star hotel. You can add-on breakfast, airport transfers, and a tour of the city for a special rate.


Switzerland is a notoriously expensive destination, but flag carrier Swiss has teamed up with Switzerland Tourism to offer stopover packages as a more affordable way to experience the country.

A stopover gives you a taste of Zurich without breaking the bank.


A stopover gives you a taste of Zurich without breaking the bank.

After booking your flights, you select the package that sounds most up your alley – there’s something for every budget, from around $ 300 for a one-night “Taste of Zurich” package, to around $ 4000 for a four-night “Luxury Switzerland” package .

Packages include accommodation, free travel by bus, train and boat, 50% savings on Swiss mountain trains, free or reduced entrance to museums, dining discounts and more.


Spain’s flag carrier is encouraging travelers passing through the capital to stick around a little longer, with its Stopover Hola Madrid program.

When booking flights, you can choose between one and six nights in Madrid, then use your ticket to nab some great deals in the city – like 40% off hotels, and 20% off popular attractions. You’ll also get a special public transport card that gives you free travel on the metro, trains and buses for two days.

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