If there’s anything worse than long-distance flying, it’s knowing you’re making a layover in an interesting destination, but can’t visit it. For the traveller at heart, this is small-scale heartbreak.

Luckily, airlines have begun to pick up on this. Countries worldwide are more than keen to turn passing-through travellers into cash-wielding tourists, even if only for a few days.

The good news? You can create a multi-day stopover (that is, an extended layover) all on your own. Here’s a complete list of airlines that offer free multi-day layovers, and how to book them yourself!

Psst, want to grab yourself a free city tour during your next airport layover? Here’s 7 airports that offer free tours during your layover, that don’t require a visa!


Method 1: Build your own stopover (extended layover)

Step 1: Search from your origin to your final destination

Let’s say I want to fly from New York City, USA to Sydney, Australia. Let’s pop that into Skyscanner (or download the app) for February 14.

New York to Sydney Flight

The cheapest result is $609 USD. We can also see from the results that Los Angeles is a common connecting point from New York City to Sydney. With that in mind, we can make a multi-day stopover out of our layover. Why don’t we have an extended layover and spend a week in Los Angeles while we’re there?

Step 2: Use multi-city search to extend layovers into stopovers

We can go back to Skyscanner and use the multi-city search function to extend that layover into a trip. We put in our original departure date of February 14 from New York City to Los Angeles, but then set the second flight from Los Angeles to Sydney a week later on February 21.

Skyscanner multi-city stopover

Stopover flight from New York City to Sydney

The resulting flight with the same airlines is $628 USD. So for a difference of just $19, we now have a week-long trip in Los Angeles before heading over to sunny Sydney.

For this trick to work, you must book the flights together using a multi-city search like the one offered by Skyscanner. This ensures that the entire trip is bundled together and served by partnering airlines, which gives you the best price. In this example, booking 2 direct flights as separate searches resulted in a total price of $756 USD, a difference of $128 USD in extra costs that can be avoided by using the multi-city search tool.

New York City to Los Angeles Flight
Los Angeles to Sydney Flight


Method 2: Use a stopover search engine

Skyscanner is our favorite all-around flight search engine for its broad search abilities and low prices. But as you can see, it can be a lot of manual work to find a stopover. Thankfully, there’s an all-in-one tool for finding stopovers called AirWander. Simply enter your origin, final destination, and number of days you wish to stopover. AirWander will return a list of destinations you can stop in, along with how much more or less you are saving vs booking a regular connected flight.

Keep in mind that AirWander uses separate flight bookings to create your stopover, and has different partner booking sites than Skyscanner. So if you want to be sure you’re getting the best price, be sure to check both!

Method 3: Find airlines that offer free stopovers

While Skyscanner and AirWander are great for creating your own multi-day layovers, some airlines offer special layover pricing plus bonuses, such as a free hotel stay. Here is a list of airlines that offer free layovers (and perks!) from around the world.

Airport Stopovers Placeholder
Airport Stopovers


North America

Air Canada

Canada

Stopover destination(s): Vancouver, Toronto, or Montréal, Canada
Departure point(s): United States or Canada
Final destination(s): United States or Canada
Stopover duration: One night
Terms & conditions: Can obtain an overnight hotel stay if layover is 6+ hours (incurs $49 CAD fee if Tango/Flex class, free for Latitude, Premium and Business Class). Can book stopovers on both legs of a return flight. Stopover can be added to existing booking, must be an end-to-end trip (not multiple destinations).
How to book: Air Canada Website

Europe

FinnAir

Finland

Stopover destination(s): Helsinki, Finland
Departure point(s): International (various)
Final destination(s): International (various)
Stopover duration: 5 hours up to 5 nights
Terms & conditions: Nil
How to book: Book on FinnAir website, select stopover duration on booking

Iceland Air & Wow Air

Iceland

Stopover destination(s): Reykjavik, Iceland
Departure point(s): Canada, Europe, Iceland, Scandinavia, United States
Final destination(s): Canada, Europe, Iceland, Scandinavia, United States
Stopover duration: Iceland Air offers a max 7 days, WOW Air offers as long as you want.
Terms & conditions: With Iceland Air, WOW Air – simply book it yourself on their search engine, luggage fees will incur and prices vary with supply/demand.
How to book:  Iceland Air website (select # of days for stopover in dropdown menu when booking flights), WOW Air website (check off the “stopover” option on the search page)

TAP Portugal

Lisbon

Stopover destination(s): Lisbon, Portugal
Departure point(s): Manchester or London
Final destination(s): International
Stopover duration: 1 night with hotel accommodation
Terms & conditions: Eligible on flights with overnight layover and no same-day connections. Not eligible on flights between Lisbon and Casablanca and Marrakech. Deal subject to hotel availability.
How to book: Book on TAP website


Asia

Air China

great-wall

Stopover destination(s): Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Hangzhou, Shanghai
Departure point(s): Domestic and international
Final destination(s): Domestic and international
Stopover duration: Up to 24 hours visa-free
Terms & conditions: Free shuttle ride and hotel overnight for layovers <24 hours.
How to book: Must phone Air China hotline or visit Air China representative to book. Details here.

China Southern Air

guangzhou-2

Stopover destination(s): Guangzhou
Departure point(s): Various domestic and international
Final destination(s): Various domestic and international
Stopover duration: 8-24 hours
Terms & conditions: No onward flights in the same day. Free shuttle, hotel, and breakfast provided.
How to book: Book hotel on China Southern Airlines website.

Singapore Airlines

singapore

Stopover destination(s): Singapore
Departure point(s): International (various)
Final destination(s): International with stopover in Singapore, or Singapore as final destination
Stopover duration: 1 night hotel
Terms & conditions: Valid on stopovers or final destination in Singapore until 31 March 2017. NOT free, starts at $65.
How to book: Singapore Air website

Thai Airways

bangkok-city

Stop over destination(s): Bangkok
Departure point(s): Australia
Final destination(s): Europe
Stopover duration: 1 free overnight hotel stay in Bangkok
Terms & conditions: Valid only on economy class fares to Europe departing from Australia between September to December 2016.
How to book: Book on Thai Airways website or with a travel agent

Turkish Airways

istanbul

Stopover destination(s): Istanbul, Turkey
Departure point(s): Australia
Final destination(s): Europe
Stopover duration: Maximum 2 nights hotel accommodation
Terms & conditions: Max 2 nights hotel for stopovers of 10+ hours for economy class passengers, or 7+ hours for business class passengers waiting for international flights.
How to book: Details on Turkish Airlines website, or call for details at +90 212 4440849.

Africa

Ethiopian Airlines

ethiopia-2

Stopover destination(s): Addis Ababa
Departure point(s): International
Final destination(s): International
Stopover duration: 8-24 hour connection (1 night hotel stay) when connecting through Addis Ababa
Terms & conditions: Must be booked on arrival and subject to availability
How to book: Book at airport on arrival, details here.

Middle East

Emirates

dubai

Stopover destination(s): Dubai, UAE
Departure point(s): International (various)
Final destination(s): International (various)
Stopover duration: Varies
Terms & conditions: Must have an Emirates flight booked that stops in Dubai. Hotel costs may incur extra charges. Full details here.
How to book: Can be added by travel agent or on Emirates website or call center.

Etihad

abu-dhabi

Stopover destination(s): Abu Dhabi, Dubai
Departure point(s): International, at least one flight (inbound or outbound) passing through Abu Dhabi
Final destination(s): International, at least one flight (inbound or outbound) passing through Abu Dhabi
Stopover duration: Minimum 2-night stay.
Terms & conditions: Prices start at $37 USD per person including hotel. Full terms and conditions here.
How to book: Book on Etihad website.

Qatar Airways

doha

Stopover destination(s): Doha, Qatar
Departure point(s): International
Final destination(s): International
Stopover duration: 5 hours to 4 days not requiring a visa in advance
Terms & conditions: Transit visa required (free, offered on arrival with confirmation of onward journey). Full details here.
How to book: Book on Qatar Airways website under multi-city booking.

Virgin Australia

abu-dhabi-3

Stopover destination(s): Abu Dhabi or Dubai
Departure point(s): International
Final destination(s): International
Stopover duration: One night with hotel stay
Terms & conditions: Valid only for business class flights if you have a flight connecting through Abu Dhabi or Dubai
How to book: Book flight that connects through Abu Dhabi or Dubai on Virgin website or with travel agent


So the next time you have to make a layover, see if you can turn it into an additional adventure. The more travel, the better! 😉

Do you know of an airline that offers free stopovers not listed here? Share some thrifty love below!