05/21/2012 05:39 pm ET

Etihad Airways Announces Free Layover Program, Free Hotel Nights

In a world of ever-increasing fees, one airline is actually giving something away for free.

Etihad Airways has announced that passengers who book a ticket on the carrier through its home airport in Abu Dhabi will get one free three-, four- or five-star hotel night, as well as discounts on desert safaris and city tours, on stays of two or more nights through December 1. Additional nights will be available from $45 a night.

It's a new twist on the classic layover offer, something airlines offer as a way to spur demand to destinations that may not otherwise get visitors. Icelandair's Stopover offer is probably the most familiar to U.S. travelers bound for Europe.

Etihad's giveaway comes as Abu Dhabi launches a broad marketing push in the United States, which includes opening a tourism office in New York City earlier this month, new outposts of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums and new luxury hotel openings.

Meanwhile U.S. carriers are catching flack for what they aren't giving away. Frequent fliers are criticizing United after the company's CFO called them "over-entitled" on May 17. Allegiant caught flack in April for introducing a $35 carry-on baggage fee; Spirit Airlines, similarly, made headlines in early May after announcing that its fees, including for carry-on baggage, would be going up to as much as $100 per flight.