It used to be that many airlines would give business class passengers a hotel room for the night when their itineraries forced them to have an overnight connection. This was especially common with national carriers who were competing for business, and also promoting their destination. Over the years it’s become more and more rare, though occasionally a national airline will promote a stopover deal where you can stop in their country without increasing the fare and perhaps pair it with a hotel discount.
Turkish Airlines is unique in that they:
- Offer a hotel for overnight connections
- Do this for business class and for coach
- And even do it for award tickets
Several years ago a young staffer at my office was looking for the absolute cheapest way to get to Eastern Europe, and Turkish had an especially low fare. She was trying to figure out how to make it work, because it meant overnighting in Istanbul and the hotel was going to blow the savings. I showed her how the free hotel program worked, and she got a night at the Radisson Blu by the airport.
Well, Turkish suspended the program during the pandemic but it’s back. And business class passengers can actually get two nights at what’s considered a 5-star hotel (while economy passengers are entitled to a single night at a four star).
You have to be flying on a roundtrip ticket issued on Turkish ticket stock with a stopover of 20 hours or longer. That means you can use miles as long as it’s Turkish’s own Miles & Smiles (partner airline tickets aren’t eligible, no United or Air Canada redemptions, just transfer Citibank, Capital One or Bilt points to Turkish).
You can only take advantage of the stopover in one direction though you must connect through Istanbul both ways. Your departure and return country must be the same (you cannot open jaw from the United States on the outbound and back to Canada for instance and take advantage of this). And you can’t double dip this with free Istanbul transit tours that they also offer.
This makes Turkish ideal for connections to destinations with once a day service even when their long haul flight schedules don’t line up well, and it promotes visiting their country. They cite 57,000 passengers having taken advantage of the program. However that’s since the start of the current generation of the program in 2017, and the program isn’t well promoted. In fact the hotel program long predates this.
This is only valid for passengers originating in one of 42 countries: Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Ireland, India, Iran, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America.
However they intend to add 15 more originating countries to the list: Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Bahrein.
Contact phone number and email for booking the free hotel stay after ticket issuance is here.
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