If you’re flying Oman Air internationally from basically anywhere on their network, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be flying through Oman en route to your final destination. This probably means a stop at Oman Air’s hub in Muscat. It’s an awesome city and to encourage people to actually explore Oman, rather than just flying through it, the flag carrier has implemented a complementary stopover service for people to visit the city.
What’s On Offer With An Oman Air Stopover
Stopovers are the bane of any traveller’s existence – there’s nothing worse than being stuck in an airport for hours on end with nothing to do. With middle eastern airlines increasingly their base as a global transit hub, more and more people are finding themselves in this situation now. Unsurprisingly, they are now trying to get you to visit the city rather than just have you connect.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that Oman Air has developed a campaign to encourage stopovers. As one of the lesser-known airlines in the middle east, it has much more of a boutique feel than their Gulf rivals. Not surprisingly, fewer even know about its stopover program.
Oman Air offers passengers travelling through Muscat to stay for up to three nights, with the airline picking up the tab for one night if at least two nights are booked. With no current service to the Americas, Oman Air primarily serves passengers travelling between Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
A Bit Of History
The stopover program with Oman Air is nothing new. Originally, the national carrier only offered a stopover program to Business and First class flyers (the link is still live to a certain degree but unlikely to work) allowing them a stay at the Al Bustan Palace or the Ritz-Carlton for a night – with breakfast no less.
A year later it relaunched with the Grand Millennium Muscat as the hotel of choice. The main difference between the two programs was that the new program was open all travelling classes. A few months later it then subsequently changed hotels to the Sundus Rotana Muscat.
At time of writing, none of these hotels are on offer – currently, the Park Inn by Radisson is the only notable 4 star available with a few other 3* and 4* hotels. It’s safe to say that the stopover program is here to stay but since the hotels are always in rotation so your mileage may vary when you intend to book.
Distinction between Oman Air Stopover & Layover
At this point, it is important to make the distinction between a stopover and layover as Oman Air is a bit vague on the difference on the website. Oman Air has two different programs targeting transit passengers. One of the programs is aimed at passengers who have around 8-24 hours of layover in Muscat. While the other is aimed at passengers, who wish to spend a few days in Muscat before continuing on their journey.
A forced extended layover, which also technically known as a Stopover Paid-by Carrier (or STPC for short) is when you are forced to transit for an extended period of time due to a forced/organic layover, as opposed to voluntary layover. In other words, if you have to have a long transit because the airline does not offer a shorter connection then you will be eligible.
In Oman Air’s case, if you have an organic layover of more than 8 hours, the airline will provide a few amenities to tide the time over.
A stopover, as discussed in this article, focuses on what it says on the tin – a stopover in Muscat. This works in many ways. For timid would-be adventurers who fear long-haul flights, the Oman Air Stopover in Muscat program is the perfect way to break up the trip. For seasoned travellers, it offers a way to bolt-on an additional location while also boosting the local tourism economy.
Importantly, unlike a STPC, aside from the one free night, and with exception to the visa fees, you bear the cost of travel around the city and the cost of travel between the airport and hotel.
How to Book a Stopover with Oman Air
Booking is not the easiest but the information is there on its website. Instead of booking a multi-city trip (like with Singapore airlines) or elect into stopover (as with Finnair), Oman Air requires you to submit a request for a flight itinerary, similar to how it’s done with a travel agent.
Hotels on Offer
Remember that the hotels change often so its always good to keep an eye on the offers out there.
|3 Star Hotels/Resorts||2 Nights||3 Nights||Validity|
|Tulip Inn Down Town Muscat||$63||$115||31 December 2020|
|Ramee Guestline||$92||$129||1 Oct – 31 Dec 2019 & 1 Jan – 30 Apr 2020|
|Ramee Guestline||$77||$107||1 May – 30 Sep 2020|
|4 Star Hotels/Resorts||2 Nights||3 Nights||Validity|
|Tulip Inn Muscat||$72||$115||1st January to 31 December 2020|
|Park Inn by Radisson Muscat||$81||$120||30 April 2020|