A free hotel night from an airline sounds too good to be true. But if you fly on some airlines you might get a free night during a long connection.
Breaking up your journey and having somewhere to rest and take a shower can make a huge difference. Staying overnight can be even better. You get the chance to rest and recover a little before your next long flight. Also, you might have time to see another city.
This is all well and good but adding in the cost of a hotel during a connection can bump up the price of the journey. What if you could get a night in a hotel free of charge so you could rest during a long connection?
There are some airlines that offer free hotel accommodation during long connections and other perks like free tours. To qualify, you meet certain conditions…
Conditions For Getting A Free Hotel Room From Airlines
There are some rules around getting a free night in a hotel. Generally, you’ll need to have a connection of at least 6 hours, sometimes longer. Also, importantly, you need to be travelling on the shortest available connection for your journey. That means you can’t usually get a free hotel if you choose to book flights with a 10 hour connection if there are flights with a 2 hour connection with the same airline on the same route.
Each airline has its own rules for free hotel rooms so make sure you read them before you book. If in doubt give the airline a call and check if your flights are eligible.
I’ve listed each of the airlines that offers this service along with what they offer and the basic rules below.
Airlines Offering Free Hotel Accommodation During Long Connections:
Qatar Airways offers free hotel accommodation in Doha, transfers between the airport and hotel, meals and entry visas.
Rules: transit time in Doha between 8 and 24 hours, excluding flights from Kuwait or Muscat. Not all fares are eligible and so Qatar Airways recommends that you confirm direct with them before you book.
Emirates offers free hotel accommodation in Dubai, transfers between the airport and hotel, meals and entry visas.
Rules: transit time between 8 and 24 hours, and a minimum fare has to be paid but Emirates doesn’t say what this is. If you book direct with Emirates the flights and fares that are eligible for this service are shown in the booking process.
Ethiopian Airlines offers free hotel accommodation in Addis Ababa, transfers between the airport and hotel, and a transit visa if needed.
Rules: transit time between 8 and 24 hours.
Air China offers free hotel accommodation, transfers between the airport and hotel, and breakfast for connections in Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Hangzhou and Shanghai.
There’s no mention of special rules for this offer on the Air China website, so I recommend you check with them before you book to see if there are any restrictions.
Also, you will need to arrange your own transit visa. You can see the options for Chinese transit visas on the Travel China Guide website.
China Southern Airlines
China Southern Airlines offers free hotel accommodation transfers between the airport and hotel, and breakfast for connections in Guangzhou.
The China Southern website doesn’t show any special rules for this offer so I would check direct with China Southern before booking to be sure of eligibility.
You’ll need a Chinese transit visa too and you can find the details for these on the Travel China Guide website.
Royal Jordanian offers free hotel accommodation in Amman, transfers between the airport and hotel, and meals.
Rules: transit time between 8 and 24 hours, not available for flights within the Middle East or Africa. Not all fares are eligible so I recommend you contact Royal Jordanian to check if you can use the service.
Hainan Airlines offers free hotel accommodation and transfers between the airport and hotel in Beijing, Xi’an, Haikou, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Dalian, Hangzhou, Shanghai Pudong, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Tianjin and Changsha
Rules: transit time over 6 hours and flight arrival at the connecting airport between midnight and 6am.
You’ll need a Chinese transit visa to leave the airport. The Travel China Guide website has all the details of how to get a Chinese transit visa.
Xiamen Air offers free hotel accommodation in Xiamen.
Rules: transit time between 6 and 24 hours. Tickets in fares classes G, Z, X and O are not eligible. These excluded fare classes are likely to be for the cheapest fares so check with with Xiamen Air to confirm if your fare is eligible.
Royal Air Maroc
For connections in Casablanca, Royal Air Maroc offers a free meal for connections between 4 and 8 hours, and free hotel accommodation for connections over 8 hours.
The information about this is in a pdf which is only available in French on the Royal Air Maroc website. Therefore I would check with them before booking.
Potentially Free Hotel Accommodation During Long Connections
These airlines don’t have any information about transit hotel accommodation on their websites. However, there are reliable reports online that they do offer free accommodation. As a result, I recommend you check with them before booking.
Airlines Offering Discounted Hotel Accommodation During Long Connections
Some airlines don’t offer free accommodation but do offer highly discounted accommodation and other perks during connections. I’ve detailed those perks below.
Etihad offers discounted hotel accommodation and 2 for 1 offers on activities in Abu Dhabi.
The Changi Transit Programme offers a discount voucher for duty free shops in Singapore Changi airport or up to two hours in the Ambassador Lounge which includes showers and light refreshments.
The Singapore Stopover Holiday includes one night in a hotel and a hop on hop off bus pass at discounted rates.
TAP Portugal offers discounted hotel accommodation in Lisbon and Oporto, restaurant and attraction discounts.
Air Canada offers discounted hotel accommodation on connections through Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. The connection must be 6 hours or more. The hotel is free if you’re travelling in business class.
Gulf Air offers discounted hotel accommodation on connections through Bahrain over 8 hours. Some of the more expensive economy fares are eligible for free hotel accommodation.
Airlines Offering Other Perks During Long Connections
Turkish Airlines offers free hotel accommodation in Istanbul but only if your journey starts in certain countries. Unfortunately the UK is not one of the countries included in the offer.
Turkish Airlines does offer free tours of Istanbul if you have a connection between 6 and 24 hours. This is open to all passengers regardless of where you start your journey.
You can make a long journey more comfortable by breaking it up with an overnight connection. Not only do you get to relax outside the airport but you also might have time to explore another city.
Some airlines will give you a hotel room free of charge during a long connection if you meet some conditions. Other airlines will give you big discounts on a hotel room during an overnight connection.
The free hotel services from airlines are a great bonus. Just make sure you double check with the airline before booking to make sure your fare is eligible.
Have you used one of these free hotel services during a connection? Is there another airline you’ve had free hotel with during a connection? Share in the comments below.