How to get a Free Turkish Airlines Stopover in Istanbul

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Whats a Turkish Airlines Stopover

If you’re flying Turkish Airlines internationally from basically anywhere on their network, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be flying through Turkey en route to your final destination, and that probably means a stop at Turkish Airlines hub in Istanbul. It’s an awesome city and to encourage people to actually explore Turkey, rather than just flying through it, The flag carrier has implemented a free stopover service.

This is not a new concept and variants of this concept exist within the industry, take Singapore Airlines Stopover Program for instance.

An Important Distinction between Turkish Airlines Stopover & Layover

At this point, it is important to make the distinction between a stopover and layover as Turkish Airlines uses the phrase “stopover” interchangeably which causes confusion (a quick Google about it shows that people have mashed the two concepts up passing them off as interchangeable). Turkish Airlines has two different programs targeting transit passengers. One of the programs is aimed at passengers who have around 6-24 hours of layover in Istanbul. While the other is aimed at passengers, who wish to spend a day or two in Istanbul before continuing onto their journey. In short, they are two similar but different concepts and apply to two different groups of travellers depending on thier circumstances.

Stopover

A stopover, as discussed in this article, focuses on what it says on the tin – a stopover in Istanbul. As will be explained, it allows you to visit Istanbul for up to 48 hours depending on travel class with a complimentary hotel so you can explore the city. This, of course, is heavily advertised as a key feature when flying with Turkish Airlines.

This works in many ways, for timid would-be adventurers who fear long-haul flights, the Turkish Airline Stopover in Istanbul 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 forced layover, aside from the hotel 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.

Layover

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 an organic layover, as opposed to voluntary layover. In other words, what this effectively means is that you are forced to transit because of the airlines routing rather than because you have chosen to stay at the airport for an extended period.

In Turkish Airlines case, if you have an organic layover of more than 6 or 12 hours, the airline will provide either a city tour or a hotel and transit between free of charge – this, of course, is buried and never advertised. I discuss this in another article further.

Summary of Turkish Airlines Stopover

What is the Stopover In Istanbul?

Turkish Airlines offers a stopover program in Istanbul for free on almost every ticket fare class and city-pairs. So long as you meet the requirements, this package is perfect for travellers who like to be a little spontaneous in their journey and build in a day or two in Istanbul.

It is important to remember that while the hotel is complimentary, the visa is not and you will need to make sure you have a visa upon arrival.

How does a stopover work In İstanbul?

If you find great Turkish Airlines flight deals on Google Flights or Turkish Airlines, you can book a multi-city journey for the same price as a standard round trip, as long as Istanbul is the city in the middle.

Economy class passengers can avail a free one night stay at a four-star hotel whereas business class passengers can avail a free two nights stay at a five-star hotel.

Free accommodation

The catch is you can’t just rock up expecting to have it.

To make use of the program you have to send an email to the mail address designated according to your departure point stating your name & surname, reservation code (PNR) or ticket number, date range for the anticipated accommodation, preferred room type (single, double or triple), telephone and e-mail address at least 72 hours before your first flight.

Once You’ve Got A Booking

Email Turkish Airlines

Once you’ve made a booking with Turkish, you simply email the local Turkish stopover office, no later than 72 hours prior to the flight.

When you email, include your name, your record locator/confirmation number and which date(s) you’d like to stay in Istanbul. You can also note if you prefer double beds, etc. Add in your email and telephone number.
Then they will get back to you with a list of hotels that you can choose from.

You can even send an email or call them on the number provided if you have any doubts about the stopover program before and after booking your flights.

Get A Visa

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Turkey requires visas for citizens of many countries and to ensure the easiest entry process, it’s best to get one well in advance although some countries can get it on arrival. You can read up on everything you need to apply online at the Turkey e-visa website, from past experience it takes 5-10 mins tops.

Possible hotels with the Turkish Airlines Stopover

The FlyerTalk thread on this does highlight some common hotels and by the looks of things they aren’t your cheap budget-end hotels.

Turkish Airlines provides you with a 1-night stay in a 4-Star hotel for Economy Class and a 2-night stay in a 5-Star hotel for Business Class passengers.

Business Class Hotels

  • Renaissance Polat Istanbul Hotel
  • Hilton DoubleTree
  • Wyndham İstanbul Petek

Economy Class Hotels

  • Courtyard by Marriott Istanbul International Airport
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel

How to get the Stopover

To be eligible for the Turkish Airlines Stopover Programme,

  1. City and Pair Criteria: only apply for the cities and countries pairs below – if a pair does not exist, then you cannot apply for the programme.
  2. No Complementary Hotel stopover when Travelling to another destination in Turkey – Naturally you cannot use the stopover programme to have a free hotel night stay before heading off to another city.
  3. You must have a round-trip ticket: One-way tickets are not eligible (and there are more rules to follow on this).
  4. You must be able to get into turkey: Visa fees, the cost of travel around the city, and the cost of travel between the airport and hotel are borne by the passenger.
  5. Award Tickets are eligible: traditionally with such programmes, they are only open to revenue ticket holders (ie. cash tickets) but while Turkish Airlines don’t make it clear anecdotal evidence on Flyertalk suggests it is open to award tickets.
  6. You must hold a Turkish Airlines Ticket: the programme is only open to passengers holding tickets issued on Turkish Airlines 235 stock (ie your ticket number says 235-xxxxxx)

Rules On The Round Trip Ticket

Turkish Airlines is strict on this point and there are tones of minor tweaks to this that you should know if you want to “gain” the system

  1. Free accommodation can be used on the outbound or return journey.
  2. In order to benefit from stopover free accommodation service, all outbound and inbound destinations of the flight must be included in the ‘Stopover Destinations’ list.
  3. The departure and return country of the round trip must be the same for a stopover to apply.

Turkish Airlines Stopover Terms and Conditions

These are the main rules that need to be adhered to for the stopover to apply – I have bolded the main ones for emphasis

  • A stopover is only available for passengers transferring via Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW). Outbound and inbound flights should be through Istanbul
  • Passengers wishing to benefit from stopover free accommodation service should prefer a transit duration between two flights lasting 20 hours or more.
  • In order to benefit from stopover free accommodation service, the application must be sent to the relevant country’s e-mail address at least 72 hours before the first flight. You can obtain more information in How does the stopover work? section.
  • Passengers using stopover free accommodation service cannot benefit from TourIstanbul service at the same time.
  • Passengers without any hotel vouchers cannot benefit from free accommodation service.
  • Boarding pass and hotel voucher must be presented during check-in to the hotel.
  • After obtaining a hotel voucher for extra accommodation, you can benefit from the special fares of Turkish Airlines by directly contacting the hotel.
  • The hotel options provided are subject to the availability of Turkish Airlines contracted hotels.
  • Passengers that get an involuntary ticket reissue due to a flight cancellation for operational reasons, cannot benefit from the stopover accommodation service.
  • Hotel vouchers are non-changeable after once the voucher is issued by the system.
  • Free accommodation is subject to Hotel availability and Turkish Airlines has the right to change terms and conditions at any time.
  • Passengers travelling with AnadoluJet cannot benefit from the Stopover Accommodation service.

Turkish Airlines Stopover Eligible City Pairs

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Dan
Dan
Travelling on Points is the brainchild of a person who loves to travel and reap the benefits of doing so. Dan enjoys sharing the knowledge of travel as he believes that the more people travel the less narrow-minded, and more tolerant, people will be of each other.

Article Comments

18 COMMENTS

  1. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to get a hold of them. I have emailed them several times with ALL the information and they have not replied back. I have also tried to call them and they never answer their phones. 🙁

    • unfortunately, due to the costs involved (ie the airline giving you a free hotel room), they require a return ticket to be booked.
      with that said, you can only make use of the free hotel room it in one direction

  2. I want to go usa with turkish air what I should do first,I want to visit historic places in turkey during my journey with free layover.

    • The first thing I would do is look into the city pairs. as you need to find one to be able to make use of the stopover programme.

      from there it’s pretty easy.

      However, if you cannot make one work just do a standard stopover – you just have to pay for the hotel room

  3. Will this work, if my final destination is within Turkey(Antalya) and I just want to spend the two nights in IST before heading to Antalya via Turkish ailrines as well? Flying ATL-ANT via IST.

    • Unfortunately not, because the two destinations must be outside of Turkey (in fact it must be on the “city pairs” for the stop over programme to take effect

  4. I would like to fly from Switzerland to Georgia and back, do a stopover in Istanbul when flying outbound. Is that possible or does it not exist for Swiss passengers?

  5. Hi. Dear Dan, I kindly ask for your consultation on how to use our stopover (we have purchased tickets Tokyo-Istanbul-Dushanbe for business class). The time between flights is almost 18 hours, so we will have to you use this option. How can I choose hotel and book it in advance online? Thank you.

    • Hi Nargisa

      unfortunately, I have to tell you that you will not be eligible, Tajikistan is classed as Central Asia and not the Middle East meaning you won’t be able to benefit from the programme.

      you can still build in a stopover (without the complementary hotel) or take part in Touristanbul

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