Sitting by the pool gives layovers a whole new meaning…

It turns out, waiting endlessly in airports is just not that much fun and long layovers really are a nightmare, after all. But turn a layover into a stopover, and suddenly you find yourself enjoying an exciting side trip, with an extra destination thrown in, pretty much for free! And the best news is, some airlines actually encourage it! Here’s a list of the airlines which allow you to take free side trips en route to your final destination, some of which even pick up the tab for your hotel!

Air Canada

Got a connection of six hours or more? Air Canada offers a nifty stopover program, which allows you to spend a night or more in Montréal, Toronto or Vancouver at no additional airfare, and many Air Canada tickets include a complimentary night’s stay at a nice hotel. To make things even more enticing, you can route through one city on the way out, and another on the return, allowing you to see two top Canadian destinations in just one side trip! Our recommendation? Vancouver.

Qatar Airways

You can enjoy a free night hotel stay and take in the city of Doha when flying with Qatar Airways, thanks to the Qatar+ Stopover program. Nationals of 80 countries are able to take advantage of visa free transit in Qatar, making it easy to split up your trip with a relaxing break in the city by the sea. The stopover program offers many excellent hotels, which will more than help you pass the time! Be sure to check out these Doha tips before you go.

Finnair

Finland is an exciting country with bountiful natural beauty and over 3 million saunas. With Finnair’s excellent stopover program you can stay in Helsinki anywhere from 5 hours to 5 days without any additional flight costs. Check out their website for special rates on hotels, attractions and fun things to keep you entertained in Helsinki and the rest of the country. If we had our way, we’d venture up to Lapland for some Northern Lights tourism!

Emirates

Who’s going to say “no” to a couple extra days relaxing in the sunshine at a five star luxury resort in Dubai? If Emirates is your best flight option, chances are you’re going to be connecting in Dubai, so why not make use of their easy stopover program to take in the buzzing atmosphere, great shopping and sunny beaches? Booking is simple and by taking advantage, you can score exclusive rates at some of the best resorts, services and attractions.

Icelandair/WOW Air

Iceland is an extremely popular place to visit, and rightly so – it’s stunning. You can now use stopover programs from both Icelandair and WOW Air to explore the magnificent country, while connecting to your final destination. Both airlines already offer great prices, like Icelandair’s recent $263 round trip sale from San Francisco to London, and with stopovers up to three days at no additional cost, this can be an excellent way to see geysers, glaciers, volcanoes and so much more.

Etihad

No matter what cabin you’re flying in, Etihad offer some highly worthy stopover options for your transit through Abu Dhabi. If you’re flying economy, you’ll get a discount on your first night stay – and if you choose to stay two nights, the second night is on the house! For those lucky enough to fly business class, you’ll receive a free night stay in a 5 star hotel, and first class passengers can enjoy two free nights. Shelling out for The Residence will not only get you an apartment in the sky, but will also get you two free nights at the Luxurious Emirates Palace in the Khaleej Suite. It would be rude not to take advantage!

Singapore Airlines

If you’re flying through Singapore on Singapore Airlines, you should most definitely check out the airline’s clever stopover holiday package. Starting from S$45, you can get incredible value from these stopover offers, which include a nights hotel stay, complimentary SIA hop-on bus rides and access to many of the wonderful attractions Singapore has to offer. Next time you’re on a long flight around the world, think about breaking things up and adding a fun extra stop to your itinerary.

TAP Portugal

Turn your Europe trip into a 2 for 1 by adding a stopover in either Lisbon or Porto, with up to five nights at no additional airfare. TAP offers special discounts on hotels, as well as great prices on attractions and experiences helping you to make the most of your time in the spectacular cities. For an already budget-friendly destination, this can be the perfect way to get even more bang for your buck.

Have you taken advantage of airline stopover programs?