Most of us prefer to get to our destination as quickly as possible. But if you happen to have a long layover between flights, did you know that some airlines will provide free hotel accommodation? In fact, some airlines go even further offering free transfers, meals and even tours while in transit!
If you have a layover between flights of 6 to 24 hours, you may be eligible for a “Stopover Paid by Carrier” or STPC for short. Bizarrely, very few airlines actually advertise their STPC policies… but many do have one for passengers passing through the airline’s hub airport.
The STPC benefit varies between airlines. Generally, you’ll be given free hotel accommodation at or near the airport. If the hotel is not located at the airport, transfers are usually included. Most airlines will also provide meal vouchers.
Some airlines, including Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, even offer free city tours for passenger in transit at their home airports!
To be eligible for a free stopover hotel, you’ll generally need to meet the following conditions:
- The shortest available connection at the time of booking was 8-24 hours (or 6-24 hours on Business/First class bookings)
- In transit between two long-haul international flights
- Some airlines exclude passengers on cheap fares, Economy tickets and/or award bookings
Most airlines require the STPC to be booked in advance. The process varies by airline; it can be done online for some airlines (e.g. Emirates), while other airlines (e.g. Asiana) require you to contact the local office by phone or email. Turkish Airlines is one of few airlines that does not require pre-booking; simply head to the “Hotel Desk” on arrival in Istanbul to request your free hotel or tour!
When booking an eligible itinerary through a travel agent, they should be able to request your STPC for you.
No airline is required to provide an STPC service. But many Asian and Middle Eastern full-service airlines do to remain competitive and attract customers on routes with misaligned schedules. The STPC service is not offered by low-cost carriers, Australian airlines (except when transiting Dubai with Qantas) or American airlines.
Here is a summary of major airlines offering STPC. Note that this list is not exhaustive:
- Emirates & Qantas (Dubai)
- Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
- Qatar Airways (Doha)
- Korean Air & Asiana (Seoul)
- Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur)
- Turkish Airlines (Istanbul)
- Philippine Airlines (Manila)
- Sri Lankan Airlines (Colombo)
- Garuda Indonesia (Jakarta & Denpasar)
- Japan Airlines (Tokyo)
- Thai Airways (Bangkok)
- Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
- Oman Air (Muscat)
- TAP Portugal (Lisbon)