IT’S TIME to turn transit into a vacation. A number of airlines are offering this vacation opportunity at no extra cost. This is not just a short vacation of a few hours, but can last for days.

In Europe, IcelandAir has a stopover program that allows tourists to fly from New York to London and stop in Reykjavik for up to a week at no extra cost. However, tourists have to book their own hotel to stay there.

However, this vacation opportunity can be free, as the airlines also provide hotel rooms for free. Below are some international airlines that currently offer free hotels to passengers in transit in certain cities or countries:

1. Etihad Airways
Etihad Airways has announced a free hotel stopover program in Abu Dhabi. Passengers booking return flights on Etihad with a stopover in Abu Dhabi can extend their stay by up to two days and enjoy up to two free hotel nights in the city.

This safe and modern city in the United Arab Emirates is a popular tourist destination for many. With this program, tourists can book one free night in a five-star hotel or two nights in a mid-range hotel in Abu Dhabi.

2. Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines has one of the most generous programs. Business class passengers are entitled to three free nights in five-star hotels in Istanbul, while economy class passengers can still get two free nights in four-star hotels.

Tourists can explore the city of Istanbul, which is currently one of the most visited cities in the world. This city is rich in history and culture, and its culinary delights are always tempting.

3. Ethiopian Airlines
When flying with Ethiopian Airlines and stopping in Addis Ababa, passengers can get a free night in a hotel in the city for between eight and 24 hours. Addis Ababa may not be a popular tourist destination, but it is an opportunity to explore and immerse yourself in the culture of the city.

4. EgyptAir
EgyptAir also offers a free one-night hotel stay in Cairo, but because of a lack of promotion, many people don’t know about it. To take advantage of this offer, passengers must book an international flight with a layover of more than eight hours, but on the shortest connection available. For example, passengers cannot book a flight with a 24-hour layover if one with only a two-hour layover is available.

When disembarking in Cairo, passengers will be directed to the transfer office and will receive a free hotel voucher and a free transit visa, eliminating the need to pay for a visa.

5. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways also offers free hotels in Doha for travelers with stopovers of up to 24 hours, unless shorter connections are available. In addition, the airline offers Qatar Stopover, a program that allows passengers to book a multi-day stopover in Doha at no additional cost and take advantage of insanely discounted hotel rates.

Travelers can stay between one and four nights at a four-star hotel in Doha for as little as US$14 or IDR224,000 per night through the airline’s program. [sources/photo special]