a large white building with domes and towers with Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the background

It’s all gain, no pain…

Take every preconceived notion you have about layovers and put them to the side. In the 80’s the layover became synonymous with pain. Sleeping on benches in airless spaces and killing time at dreadful airport sports bars is no ones ideal cup of tea, nor should it be. Lets just say “layover” is buzzword for travel “buzzkill”. Enter: free airline stopovers. While they’re both technically “overs” the stopover is not your enemy. In fact, its one of your best money saving, destination expanding friends. Depending on the airline, the stopover is the greatest travel trick you’re missing out on. After all, the world is huge and your vacation time rarely is too…

a camels walking on a beach with a city in the backgroundAirline Stopovers

Something changed. Airlines realized that connections are generally seen as a big no no, and decided to double down and turn blasé stops into real stopovers. Goodbye airport, hello dreamy swimming pools. This is not ,*repeat*, not a layover. No one wants to sit in an airport, but nearly everyone wants to see the worlds greatest cities and save money while doing so. Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles are bucket list destinations, and with great airlines operating out of each, why not use them as an additional selling point to entice business?

Same Price, More Travel

Want to fly from New York to Barcelona, but spend a day or two in Lisbon for no additional airfare? Fly TAP Portugal. Want to check out Bangkok, but desperate to scope out the heavenly beaches and endless buffets of Dubai too, Emirates is your go to. The list of airlines offering complimentary stopovers is rapidly expanding and you really should take advantage. Booking two vacations, such as one to Dubai and one to Bangkok is always going to be a lot more expensive in regards to time and money than taking just one vacation, with a multi day stop included for free. These stops can also help curb jet lag, giving you time to rest up at an intermediary point.

a pool with blue umbrellas and lounge chairsFree Hotels Too

Airlines in countries seeking to boost tourism are going a step further, and you’ll love it. Not only can you make a multi day stop en route for no additional airfare, but some airlines will also throw in your hotel too, just for checking out their home city. It’s almost quite literally free travel. Etihad and Qatar are two of the most popular airlines throwing in complimentary hotel. Emirates, Finnair, Singapore and TAP Portugal run hotel stopover programs which while not totally free, offer highly discounted rates, with five star hotels starting from just $45.

How To Book Airline Stopovers

Here’s a master list of the best airline stopover programs. Simply click over to each airline to discover their unique stopover offerings and start planning your next vacation, via their host city. There’s been wildly exciting recent travel deals like $286 round trip from U.S. cities to Barcelona, with a free side trip in Portugal and £1700 business class from Europe to Melbourne, Australia, with free multi day stopovers in Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is something every traveler should see at least once, and when it’s included, why wouldn’t you?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. Maybe defining a layover and a stopover would help. When I was just starting as a travel agent many years ago, it was explained to me that a layover was under 24 hours, while a stopover was over 24 hours. Obviously, you can do a lot more with a stopover. For award flights, Alaska offers the best option with a free stopover on one way tickets.

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