Have a Long Layover? Get Free Accommodation with These Airlines

We’ve seen it over here at Airfarewatchdog, and I'm sure you have too; you’re searching for that dream vacation and all of a sudden a ticket pops that’s too good to be true. Los Angeles to Bali for $450 roundtrip, what a score, that’s a couple of hundred dollars less than the competition! So what’s the catch? Along with that discount price comes a fifteen-hour layover on your return flight in some Chinese city you’ve never heard of, ouch.

Even for travelers who like to break up trips with free layovers or stops along the way sometimes the timings on these extended stays are too much to handle. The idea of staying in an airport for even an hour more than needed can cause many a customer to hold off on that discount deal. But what if I told you alongside that cheap flight you could put away your fears of sleeping on that row of ratty old airport chairs using your coat as a pillow and instead get upgraded to a four-star hotel. 

How to Get A Complimentary Hotel Room from These 15 Carriers

Don’t get ready to order room service just yet. In order to qualify for free accommodation on many airlines, you'll have to meet a particular set of criteria, and some airlines are more generous than others when it comes to who’s eligible for a free stay. On most carriers, it's a layover over 8-12 hours or an overnight connection, while others require you to fly in a premium class to receive a hotel gratis. Due to scheduling and costs, many airlines aren't upfront about this little-known perk, but the ones listed below do have the terms tucked away on their websites, which I've dug out for you. Here’s a roundup of airlines that offer these complimentary transit hotel options and steps on how you can secure one if you find yourself on an extended layover. 

Air Canada

Flyers seated in Latitude, Premium Economy, and Business class with a connection time of more than 6 hours between flights are entitled to one night of free hotel accommodation from Canada's largest airline. The program aptly titled Air Canada Stopover is available for passengers transiting through one of AC's major hub airports in Montreal (YUL), Toronto (YYZ), and Vancouver (YVR). Customers can take advantage of this offer up until 96 hours before scheduled departure. To see if you're eligible, all you need to do visit the Air Canada Stopover site here and submit your booking info. If you haven't booked yet, select the Air Canada Stopover travel option and you'll be on your way to securing a free night stay.

Air China

If you find yourself with an overnight connection at one of these following airports Beijing (PEK), Chengdu (CTU), Hangzhou (HGH), Shanghai (PVG), or Tianjin (TSN), Air China will provide its passengers with a free transit hotel no matter which class of service they are flying in. Free hotels will only be granted for one night on itineraries that arrive before 1 A.M. and that don't exceed 24 hours. Complimentary 24-hour shuttle service between the airport and hotel should also be included in addition to your accommodation. More info can be found here.

China Eastern Airlines

On flights departing the U.S. or Canada, and with an overnight connection lasting over 12 hours in either Shanghai (PVG), Kunming (KMG), Xi’an (XIY), or Beijing (PEK), customers are entitled to what China Eastern calls an STPC (Stopover Paid by the Carrier). These STPCs are only available for passengers who are ticketed on journeys operated by China Eastern and its subsidiary Shanghai Airlines. On flights onward to another international destination, an STPC can be used on both legs, if connecting to another destination in China an STPC can only be redeemed once. Arrangements for the free hotel stay must be made five business days before the scheduled departure date. To double check and see if you qualify for an STPC you can visit this application landing page.

China Southern Airways

China Southern is one of the airlines that is guilty of posting some extremely good deals but with extremely long layovers at its Guangzhou (CAN) hub to match. Luckily they offer some relief on those extended visits with a complimentary transit hotel. Flyers who have stays ranging from 8 to 48 hours are entitled to one night from a long list of properties. If flying in a higher class like Business, the roster of available hotels is slightly upgraded. Hotels may be booked up to 6 months in advance, or if you're the last-minute type, you can select a hotel on arrival at the China Southern Accommodation Counter at the airport. Find out which hotels are available and how to book in advance here.

Emirates Airlines

Dubbed "Dubai Connect" Emirates free accommodation program is available to passengers whose itinerary calls for an extended layover at the airline's hub in Dubai (DXB). So what qualifies as a long layover? For Business and First passengers, it’s a connection time of more than 6 and less than 24 hours, while Economy passengers have to fall in the more than 8 and less than 24 hours upon arrival window.  Arrangements to take advantage of the Connect program must be pre-booked, and Emirates will only accept bookings up to a full day before departure. Meals, visas, and ground transportation are included in this generous gesture that you can read more about here.

Ethiopian Airlines

Having spent only a couple hours in the Addis Ababa (ADD) airport a few years ago, I can personally vouch that you'd want to avoid sitting around there for eight-plus hours. Luckily, those with connection times that are over 8 and up to 24 hours will qualify for a free room no matter what fare class they are flying. On arrival, the Ethiopian Airlines transit desk will help organize your hotel, transfer service, and will assist with the visa on arrival process for those nationals that are eligible. Further information can be seen here.

Etihad Airlines

Flyers up front get the benefit of a one or two-day hotel while transiting through Etihad's hub in Abu Dhabi (AUH). To take Etihad up on this free hotel offer, you’ll need to be ticketed in Business, First, or the ultra-lavish Residence fare buckets. Business class flyers are entitled to one free night, while First guests can receive two at one of Abu Dhabi’s five-star hotels. Residence guests are offered up to two nights in the Khaleej Suite at Emirates Palace, talk about roughing it! For those premium customers who will be turning left on an Etihad flight in the near future, you can fill out the form here for your free luxurious layover.

Gulf Air

Stuck in Bahrain (BAH) for over 8 hours? Don’t you hate it when that happens? No need to fret, hometown carrier Gulf Air will set you up with a free place to stay if you are flying in qualifying fare classes. Passengers ticked in Falcon Gold Freedom (J), Falcon Gold Friendly (C), Falcon Gold Basic (D), Economy Freedom (Y), Economy Friendly (H, M, L only) will be entitled to complimentary accommodation, all other fare classes come with a fee. If there happens to be a connecting flight within the 8 hours to your destination, unless it's full, you will also lose the right to a free room. If you qualify, you are asked to contact the nearest Gulf Air Sales office or dial Gulf's Call Center, which is listed on this page along with other conditions for hotel accommodation.

Hainan Airlines

Skytrax rated five-star airline Hainan deserves bonus stars for its hospitable transit accommodation program. In many of its international transit airports including Xi’an (XIY), Shanghai (PVG), and Haikou (HAK) travelers that have itineraries with a layover greater than 6 hours or on the following day will be granted a hotel option. One caveat, for those transferring in Beijing (PEK) only, if your layover is over 6 hours but departs the same day, you will only be granted access to transit lounge - not a hotel. Overnight itineraries qualify. Hainan also provides free shuttles to/from the hotel and airport.  It's recommended you book your hotel in advance to avoid any hiccups on your journey; you can do so by clicking here to see a full breakdown of Hainan's accommodation service.

Qatar Airways

Qatar customers who find themselves with a transit time in Doha (DOH) between 8 and 24 hours might be able to score a hotel room for the stay. Not all tickets qualify, and itineraries that include flights to/from Kuwait (KWI) and Muscat (MCT) aren't eligible. The best way to take advantage of this program is to contact a Qatar Airways office to confirm that your fare is suitable for the free night. In some cases, you might be able to have Qatar foot the bill for your entry visas and meals, so it‘s definitely worth looking into. This page should help answer any further questions.

Royal Air Maroc

Specifics aren’t clear on Royal Air Maroc’s free accommodation policy, but for layovers that exceed 8 hours in its hub of Casablanca (CMN) the airline will reportedly provide you with a hotel room gratis. Accommodations can be arranged at the transfer desk after arrival in Casablanca, or if you want to sort it out sooner, it won't hurt to give them a ring in advance to confirm. On this page, you can find some other information about transits on Royal Air Maroc and download a PDF guide, but you might need to call upon on your high school language skills because it’s only in French.

Royal Jordanian

Here's another Middle Eastern airline that will hook travelers up with a free room if they have the right qualifications. Firstly, your layover in Amman (AMM) must exceed 8 hours and will not be offered to those flyers that have a connection on the same day. Only overnight itineraries will suffice. Select countries and destinations are excluded, but generally, flights departing North America and Europe will be eligible if they meet the conditions. To verify if your trip on is available for free accommodation, you can click here for Royal Jordanian's layover service page.

SriLankan Airlines

If you wind up in Colombo (CMB) on a layover for over 8 hours and up to 24 hours, SriLankan Airlines, the country’s largest airline, will set you up with a free hotel option. There are a few small strings attached with this offer though; it looks like your roundtrip flight total must exceed $700 or $350 for one-way service to qualify for the accommodation. Also, flights must be ticketed on the same single itinerary, and you aren't able to force a longer layover by selecting a trip later in the day if there is one available before the 8-hour marker. SriLankan recommends you contact them directly via email or by calling one of their ticketing offices up to 48 before you begin your journey. You can do so by following this link for more details.

Turkish Airlines

Serving 230 international destinations worldwide, Turkish Airlines has a massive network routing via its hub in Istanbul (IST). With so many connecting passengers, the airline has to be a bit stricter when it comes to who qualifies for its free accommodation service. Economy passengers must have a layover of over 10 hours while Business class flyers need 7 or longer. There is another noteworthy stipulation if there's an earlier flight to your destination (under the 10-hour mark), even if it's sold out or full you won't be able to claim your free stay. This policy prevents people from purposely choosing an ultra long layover to take advantage of Turkish Airline's free hotel service. Other terms and conditions can be seen here.

XiamenAir

Skyteam member XiamenAir is another Chinese carrier that can post some lengthy layovers at its hubs in Xiamen (XMN) and Fuzhou (FOC). Most itineraries that include an international leg and are entirely operated by the airline (no codeshares) with a layover between 6 and 24 hours qualify for transfer accommodation. XiamenAir is a little stricter than the other carriers and those who have tickets in these fare buckets: G, Z, E, X, O are out of luck when it comes to scoring the free room. So make sure to check what fare class you are ticketed in before requesting a transit hotel. Arrangements for hotels can be made on arrival at the transfer service counter or by calling XiamenAir’s service hotline, which can be found here.

Header image by Photobank gallery via Shutterstock.com

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