Long flights and multiple hops are an integral part of overseas travel from New Zealand.
But a layover — meaning getting out of the airport and spending time in a destination — can be a good way to break up a tedious journey. Even better when your airline has a stopover program that offers additional benefits for doing so.
Here are the airlines with the best layover benefits, from free hotel stays to deep discounts on sightseeing activities and local transportation.
* Hidden benefits provided with your boarding pass
* How to leave the airport and explore a city during a layover
* How much time do you really need for a connecting flight?
If you’re flying via Abu Dhabi, Etihad has three great options for travelers looking to spend more time in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The first option is for travelers whose connection time is more than 10 hours, but less than 24 hours. The airline will accommodate you in a nearby hotel, so that you can rest before your next stop. No matter what time your flight arrives, you can check in immediately.
If you choose to stay longer – one or two nights – the airline will still cover your hotel bill, with a selection of three and four star hotels to choose from.
If you’re willing to spend some of your own money and really make it a vacation, staying at a luxury hotel, they’ll give you a big discount. You choose from a selection of four- and five-star hotels, decide on the length of your stay (a minimum of two nights is required and you can stay up to six nights) and get up to 50% off. You also get 24-hour check-in and breakfast included.
The Turkish airline offers some of the best benefits in the industry to passengers transiting through Istanbul Airport, with free accommodation and guided tours up for grabs.
If you have a layover of at least six hours, you can join one of their Touristanbul tours, where a guide will take you to some of Istanbul’s most iconic sites, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. The tour even includes a free meal, allowing you to sample traditional Turkish and Ottoman cuisine.
But you could also be entitled to a free night in a four-star hotel (or two nights in a five-star hotel, if you’re flying business class). Just check if your destination is included and send an email to the address provided to guarantee your reservation.
Malaysia Airlines gives you the option of two holidays for the price of one – or what they have dubbed a “bonus side trip”.
Customers traveling via Kuala Lumpur can turn their layover into a true national holiday, with Malaysia Airlines offering free flights to and from your choice of seven dream destinations – how about a beach holiday in Langkawi or a visit to the gastronomic capital of Penang?
You will only have to pay the local government and airport taxes associated with the domestic flight.
Qatar Airways makes it easy to add a stopover in the capital city of Doha – when booking, simply select whether you want to stay on the outward or return journey, and for how many nights.
At the same time, you can choose from a range of deeply discounted hotel packages, starting at around $23 for a night in a four-star hotel, or around $126 for a night in a five-star hotel. You can add breakfast, airport transfers and a city tour at a special rate.
Switzerland is a notoriously expensive destination, but flag carrier Swiss has teamed up with Switzerland Tourism to offer stopover packages as a more affordable way to experience the country.
After booking your flights, you select the package that suits you best – there’s something for every budget, from around $300 for a one-night ‘Taste of Zurich’ package to around $4,000 for a ‘Taste of Zurich’ package. Luxury Switzerland” for four nights. .
Packages include accommodation, free bus, train and boat travel, 50% discount on Swiss mountain trains, free or discounted entry to museums, restaurant discounts and more Again.
The Spanish national company encourages travelers passing through the capital to stay a little longer with its Stopover Hola Madrid program.
When booking flights, you can choose between one and six nights in Madrid, then use your ticket to take advantage of great deals in the city, like 40% off hotels and 20% off popular attractions. You will also receive a special public transport card which will allow you free travel on the metro, trains and buses for two days.