Heading for a summer holiday? How about visiting two destinations for the price of one?
Several major airlines around the world offer free stopovers for visitors at their hubs, or in some cases, a minimum bump in the total airfare to visit a new city.
While airlines such as Emirates and Etihad offer stopover packages, carriers such as Icelandair give you a free stopover option in Reykjavik on its booking engine without an addition to the airfare.
Here are the top airlines that serve up a ‘secret stopover’ vacation.
With over 140 destinations connected to Dubai across the airline’s network, Emirates offers passengers a complimentary city stopover for one night, which is extended to transit passengers with a confirmed onwards booking, allowing them to stay for a maximum of 36 hours.
For those looking to spend a night can makes use of the airline’s stopover packages that includes preferential rates at hotels and apartments offering 24-hour check-in facilities, return transfers, breakfast and more.
A Dubai Stopover package can start from $48 per person, per night and can be booked via ‘multiple destinations/stopovers’ option on the airline’s booking engine and contacting a travel agent to book the remainder.
The airline also offers a 96-hour visa facility for $62 per person (for a maximum of four entries).
Meanwhile, the price difference for a stopover with the airline costs an additional Dh300 when we checked on a flight from Sydney to Mumbai, which costs Dh8,800 direct.
Across the highway, Etihad Airways offers four different stopover options to choose from: the Essential, the Premium, the Complimentary and the Transit.
While the essential provides the first night complimentary (min two nights) when stopping over in Abu Dhabi, the premium is specifically catered to the First and Business class passengers; the former enjoy two free nights, while the latter get one complimentary.
For those who are not looking to stay for long in the capital can opt for the complimentary visa which will grant you a four-day visa.
The Essential Abu Dhabi Transit is the option for those who have six to 12 hours transit in the capital.
The national airline of Iceland has been promoting its ‘free-stopover in Reykjavik’ for no additional cost on its website for years, allowing passengers a special page to book this itinerary on its search engine.
Due to its geographic location, the Iceland can present itself as a mid-Atlantic stop when travelling between Europe and North America.
The carrier offers service to Iceland from US gateway cities such as Boston, New York-JFK, Seattle and Denver; meanwhile, connections through Icelandair’s hub in Reykjavik are available to more than 20 destinations in Scandinavia, the UK and Continental Europe.
A carrier with a true free stopover, we put this to the test by checking on pricing options on a roundtrip from Dubai to Adelaide without and inclusive of a one-night stay in Singapore.
The ticket price remained Dh5,175.
Similar to Emirates, Singapore Airlines also offers stopover packages starting at Dh125 per person, including hotel stay and transfers.
A more upmarket version also includes discounts on food, unlimited rides on the SIA Hop-on Bus and admission to over 15 tourist attractions; this starts from Dh172.
A transit visa option is also available for those travellers who have onward bookings with the carrier and wish to spend a few hours travelling across the city.
Even though Turkish Airlines doesn’t mention free stopovers on its website, the carrier does have a ‘special service request’ section that it offers free hotel accommodation at Istanbul airport (or a tour of Istanbul) to connecting passengers based on the following criteria: there is more than 10 hours (7 or more hours for business class passengers) between two international connecting flights due to Turkish Airlines’ schedule for a maximum two nights; the layover time is calculated on the schedule not your booking.
The latter means that if the schedule shows an outgoing flight within the 10/7 hours window, even if you are not booked on the earlier flight, you still won’t be able to take advantage of the free hotel/tour offer.
Two holidays for price of one? How to get a free "secret stopover"