Several carriers especially Middle Eastern carrier offer free stopover programs. Stopover programs are an incentive for transit passengers to spend some time at the transit city and explore the local culture, perhaps decide if they want to come back for more. Singapore Airlines offers free city tours for transit passengers, Etihad Airways offer a complimentary two-night stay in Abu Dhabi as a part of their stopover program and so-on. Now, there is a great new Turkish Airlines Stopover Tour programme.
For quite some time, Turkish Airlines is offering some stopover/layover programs for transit passengers. They improvised it last week for the better. Now, Turkish Airlines has two different programs targetting transit passengers. One of the programs is aimed at passengers who have around 6-24 hours of layover in Istanbul. While the other is aimed at passengers, who wish to spend a day or two in Istanbul before continuing onto their journey.
Free sightseeing tours in 6-24 hours layover
Turkish Airlines has tied up with Touristanbul, to provide free city tours if you have a layover of 6 to 24 hours in Istanbul between two international flights. You can choose from six different tours every day of the week, depending on your layover period.
Some of the tours also have free breakfast or lunch or dinner. As you can see, there is also a Bosphorus cruise tour in the evening. You can indulge in dinner on the night cruise while taking in the views from the Bosphorus.
After your Turkish Airlines connecting international flight, you can sign up for Touristanbul city tours at the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals Terminal of Istanbul Airport. This can be a fun way to spend a long layover if you have got one. The tours depart daily from the Hotel Desk at Istanbul Airport with tours taking place between 0800 to 1130, 0830 to 1500, 0830 to 1500, 0830 to 1800, 1200 to 1800 and between 1600 to 2130.
Free 1-2 days stopover in Istanbul
Turkish Airlines offers a free one to two-day stopover in Istanbul for transit passengers depending on your class of travel. Economy class passengers can avail a free one night stay at a four-star hotel whereas business class passengers can avail a free two nights stay at a five-star hotel.
The catch is you have to send an email to the mail address designated according to your departure point stating your name & surname, reservation code (PNR) or ticket number, date range for the anticipated accommodation, preferred room type (single, double or triple), telephone and e-mail address at least 72 hours before your first flight.
Then they will get back to you with a list of hotels that you can choose from. You can even send an email or call them on the number provided if you have any doubts about the stopover program before and after booking your flights. You can view the entire list of contacts depending on your departure destination here.
I have mentioned a few essential terms and conditions. You can view the rest of the terms and conditions here.
- Stopovers apply for the cities and countries in the scope of stopovers indicated in the table above.
- All flights should be included in the destinations given in the table to benefit from stopover free accommodation service.
- Free accommodation is available for round-trip tickets. Free accommodation can be used on the outbound or return journey.
- The passenger bears visa fees, the cost of travel around the city, and the cost of travel between the airport and hotel.
- Passengers wishing to benefit from stopover free accommodation service should prefer a transit duration between two flights lasting 20 hours or more.
- Free accommodation is available for flights operated by Turkish Airlines. Passengers can take advantage of free accommodation using their ticket number.
- To benefit from stopover free accommodation service, the application must be sent to the relevant country’s e-mail address at least 72 hours before the first flight. You can obtain more information in How does stopover work? section.
- Passengers using stopover free accommodation service cannot benefit from TourIstanbul service at the same time.
- Boarding pass and hotel voucher must be presented during check-in to the hotel.
As mentioned, you cannot club both TourIstanbul and Turkish Airlines free stopover program together. It is a great way to visit Istanbul if you haven’t had already. For both the programs, you will need a visa as you will be exiting the airport. Turkey offers an e-visa, and you can apply for one at https://www.evisa.gov.tr.