First things first, layovers are abominable, but stopovers are absolutely brilliant. A stopover is your chance to become a true jet setter, taking in multiple cities on every trip, thus making the question "where did you go?", slightly more exciting to answer. While some airlines require you to be a travel whiz to book a free stopover, some airlines actually encourage them...
Air Canada's creatively titled "Air Canada Stopover" is one of the best passenger friendly programs for adding an exciting destination to your trip. For flights to or from Europe or Asia you can stopover in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver and many tickets receive a free night's hotel in Canada, included for free. The program is designed to allow for passengers to stay anywhere from six hours up to a few days in Canada on the way to their destination, turning what would be a layover into an exciting mini trip. If you layover in a different city on the way back, you can experience two great Canadian cities at no additional cost. Details HERE.
Iceland is one of the hottest travel destinations and that never gets old to say. Their national airline Icelandair is boosting it's flights between the US and Europe by offering customers a free stopover to go along with their low prices. Through their special program, you can fly to Iceland and stay for up to five nights in both directions for no additional fare. They even throw in one of the airline's crew as a free guide for a day to show you around. You'll need to book your own hotel, which you can do through their handy site, but your ticket will be the same price for the free side trip to Reykjavik, which is so hot right now. Details HERE.
Ever been to Finland? Finnair wants you to give it a try, again turning what could be an annoying layover into a fantastic mini trip. The airline allows you to stopover in Helsinki on trips between North America, Europe or Asia for anywhere from 5 hours up to five days. They have a website with special rates on hotels, attractions and all the things you'd need to make the most of the stay (aside from Vodka), with curated city tips from their staff. To book your stopover, attractions and hotels and you can book HERE. Easy.
If you're flying Etihad, you'll be flying through Abu Dhabi at some point. The airline wants to encourage passengers to spend some time in it's exciting home city, receiving the full Emirati hospitality, without collecting any additional airfare for the stop. To sweeten the deal they've negotiated with top hotels to allow passengers to check in at any time, and if you buy one night, you get one free. On top of that, they offer two for one's on all attractions and tourist activities. If you want to experience an emerging city in a unique part of the world, and the bling that goes along with it. Take advantage of this generous program, HERE.
Flying from Australia to Europe just got a lot more fun, thanks to a very hospitable offering from Thai Airways. For layovers longer than six hours, the airline is throwing in a free Bangkok hotel for one night, allowing weary travelers to break up their journey and experience a jewel of South East Asia at no additional charge (Mai Tai's sold separately). Despite Bangkok being a bustling city, there's so much you can accomplish in a day and with world renowned food it's certainly a hard opportunity to pass up. Hey, it's free and you can book by heading HERE.
Dubai is a very cool city with endless entertainment and showmanship and yes, if you're flying Emirates on a long haul flight you're almost certainly going to end up there. Dubai is famous for shopping and therefore it should be no surprise that Emirates has a catalogue of specially curated stopover deals, just for the Emirates passenger. You'll find exclusive deals and prices unavailable anywhere else, taking care of everything from airport transfers to to hotel and even entertainment packages. Check out the catalogue HERE, and if Emirates is your best option, make the most of your time in Dubai.