Airlines Are Adding Great Stopover Options

Photo: Alessandro Grussu/Getty Images.
Stopovers used to be a nightmare for travelers. Who wants a delay on the way to paradise? Who wants to occupy themselves in an airport or strange city for a few hours when the destination is so close? Well, time are changing. The New York Times reports that many travelers are opting for stopovers and airlines are catering to savvy fliers, offering up extended stopovers so that passengers can get two vacations in the books.
"It used to be that stopovers were expensive because you had to pay for the privilege," George Hobica, the founder and president of Airfarewatchdog, told the Times.
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Now, airlines are making the stopover hub a destination in itself. Wow Air, a budget airline based in Iceland, may have started the trend last year, when it started offering free stopover service to fliers going from the United States to Europe. The airline doesn't have a time limit for its stopovers. So, in theory, travelers can spend as much time as they want in the Icelandic city of Reykjavik on their way to other cities. This year, the airline is expanding its list of destinations, so anyone headed to Barcelona, Paris, or Stockholm can get in on the action, too.
Qatar Airlines is offering a similar service. Through September 30, the carrier will be providing "free overnight and complimentary transit visas in Doha," the Times reports. There is a time limit of 96 hours, however. But, in that sweet window, passengers will get complimentary hotel stays at luxury hotels like the Four Seasons Hotel Doha and the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel. A second night is just $50, but after that, passengers will have to pay full price.
Other airlines with stopover incentives include Iceland Air, which has a five-day stopover policy in Reykjavik, and Hawaiian Air. Anyone flying internationally with Hawaiian can stay in Honolulu and soak up the island life before jetting off.
Hobica explains that it's become more common for airlines to offer the stopover service now that many are "owned or partially owned by the governments of the countries they serve." That way, the countries can up their tourism dollars and attract more tourists and airlines. It's a win-win all around, so make sure your passport is up to date.
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