Long Layover? These Airlines Will Hook You Up With Free Hotel

Though likely unbeknownst to the average Joe Schmoe connecting through on a trip, airlines sometimes come to the rescue of layover-weary passengers with free hotel accommodation when it's something like a brutally long, 10-hour wait until the next flight.
05/26/2015 03:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Suddenly a half-day at the airport can turn into a free four-star hotel stay. Where's the sign-up sheet?

This post originally appeared on Map Happy.

Though likelyᅡᅠunbeknownst to the average Joe Schmoe connecting through on a trip, airlines sometimes come to the rescue of layover-weary passengers with free hotel accommodation when it's something like aᅡᅠbrutally long, 10-hour waitᅡᅠuntil the next flight. While some airlines reach out directly to eligible flyers to let them know about the perk, others keep it so hush-hush that it's not even mentioned on the airline website. It's clearly not in the best interest of the airline's bottom line to go around giving out free accommodation, but often,ᅡᅠif ye ask, ye shall receive.

Airlines will really only offer accommodation under particularᅡᅠcircumstances, too, so this isn't aboutᅡᅠmilking an airline to foot part of a vacation. In some cases, only certain fares qualify and the the long layover, or "transfer," isn't something you can pick. Having a x-hour-long layover mustᅡᅠbe the only option for your travel itinerary. Choosing a later connecting flight in order to tack on a couple extra free nights at a hotel in Istanbul, for example, won't fly with most airlines. (Be sure toᅡᅠcheck the visa situationᅡᅠif you're going to hop out!)

The policies vary from airline to airline (and mainly applies to international connecting flights) but in the case of a long layover, it's definitelyᅡᅠworth looking into. Even if an airline doesn't advertise the Stopover Paid By Carrier (STPB) service or isn't known to offer it as detailed below, ask anyway. The worst customer service can tell you is that they won't put you up, in which case you're no worse off.

AirlineLodging Policy
Air CanadaThe Air Canada Stopover Option offers Business Class, Premium Economy and Latitude passengers free hotel accommodation for connections more than six (6) hours.
Air ChinaThose with an overnight layover in Beijing are offered a free "transit hotel" stay.
China Eastern AirlinesThe airlines covers transit and one night's worth of lodging for passengersᅡᅠwho purchase their tickets on theᅡᅠofficial website and have a forced next-day domestic or international connection from Shanghai, Kunming orᅡᅠXi'an.
China Southern AirlinesInternational flyers with a layover between 8-48 hours are covered with a hotel, as well as thoseᅡᅠtraveling domestically with an overnight layover.
EmiratesEmirates hooks up coach passengers with an 8-24-hour layover or first/business class passengers with a 6-24-hour layover with "accommodation, meals, ground transportation and visa costs."
Ethiopian AirlinesThose connecting through Addis Abeba with 8-24 hours to wait receive hotel accommodation, so long as they posses the necessary entry visa.
Etihad AirwaysIn this case, peopleᅡᅠare encouraged to spend some timeᅡᅠin Abu Dhabi, with Etihad picking up a night at a hotel through one ofᅡᅠits stopover packages.
Gulf AirPassengers withᅡᅠover eight (8) hours of connection time in Bahrain can be put up in a hotel courtesy of the airline.
Malaysia AirlinesAny pair of passengers flying certain international routesᅡᅠcanᅡᅠchooseᅡᅠto stop over in Kuala Lumpur and the airline will comp a one-night hotel stay.
Qatar AirlinesThe airline covers "accommodation, entry visas, airport transfers and meals" for flyersᅡᅠlaying over Doha between 8-24 hours. Those on flightsᅡᅠto or fromᅡᅠAbu Dhabi (AUH), Bahrain (BAH), Dubai (DWC), Dubai (DXB), Kuwait (KWI), Muscat (MCT), and Sharjah (SHJ) are not eligible.
Sri Lankan AirlinesPassengersᅡᅠwith 8-24 hours of transfer time in Colombo are entitled to a hotel stay, airport transfers and meals.
Turkish AirlinesThe airlines offers up to two free nights at a hotel for economy flyers with a layover of more than 10 hours (7+ hours for business travelers).

But wait! There's more.

While the above airlines have concrete evidence that these mythical hotel packages do exist, there are airlines that are reported and rumored to offer, or have provided, complimentary hotel accommodation:

People have posted before about Asiana Airlines covering hotel, meals and transfers on long layovers. The same goes for Biman Airlines with hotel stays in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Inquiring and dealing directly with the EgyptAir's home base office in Egypt is reported to yield the best results for hotel hookups.

Korean Air does not have any official language on their site, but multiple people have reported about them giving a night at the Hyatt Regency Incheon (fancy!) to passengers with involuntary long layovers.

The only official word online about Japan Airlines' policy I found directed to U.S. and Canadian travel agents. It does seem, though, that the airlines will cover international travelers' hotel stays in certain cases of ridiculously long layovers.

Singapore Airlines is not in the practice of comping hotel stays, though they reportedly sometimes do. They also have a Singapore Stopover Holiday package that includes a hotel stay. It's presented as a $555 value for $65, so that long connection time could pose an opportunity to make travel lemons into lemonade (..layoverade?).

I also have heard mutterings of Royal Brunei Airlines putting up passengers but the closest proof I found was a mention of their Stopover Fit Packages, which, while apparently discounted, are not free. Guess you can't have everything.

There also used to be a (now defunct) page on Thai Airways that outlined free accommodation for those with connecting international flights with 6-24 hours of transfer time. Frequent travelers on FlyerTalk state that this was still reputedly in effect circa 2014.

Karina Martinez-Carter is an assistant editor at Map Happy. She has written for BBC Travel, BBC Capital, Travel + Leisure, Thrillist and more.

Read More