I’m still not over it. How could I have flown around the world so many times, endured excruciatingly long layovers, and never even heard of this perk? Some airlines, it turns out, will provide you with a free hotel accommodation (sometimes including transportation and breakfast) when you have a flight with a long layover in the airline’s major hub city. Basically the airline is serving up a free mini vacation in between your flights! Naturally, it’s not something airlines are necessarily publicizing (and what constitutes “long,” however, varies per airline), but many will accommodate you when asked.
I discovered this fantastic travel secret when, to save myself over $100, I had booked a flight with a 13-hour layover in Tokyo. The plan had been to leave Narita International Airport and go into the city for dinner and dancing via the train, then find a cheap hotel to shower and rest at before heading back to the airport. You can imagine my amazement when ANA Airlines handed me a complimentary hotel stay, complete with a free shuttle to and from the airport, when I checked in for my flight!
I took advantage of this free hotel stopover again on a trip to Bali, which I booked through Eva Air with a 24-hour layover through Taipei on the return flight. As before, no hotel was offered during the booking process, but when I called and requested one, Eva Air promptly reserved a room for me. Eva Air also provided complimentary breakfast and a free private taxi to and from the airport. With such service, I vowed to always take flights with long layovers.
Below are airlines that arrange free accommodation with a long layover. Make sure you call ahead to request the hotel reservation because restrictions do apply. If you’ve experienced the same with these or other airlines providing a free hotel on a long layover, please share!
Emirates at Dubai
Sri Lankan Airlines at Colombo (Book your hotel in advance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)