How to Get A Free (or Almost Free) Stopover in the Middle East

Aug 20, 2019

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Why not see two cities for the price of one?

Some of the most popular Middle Eastern airlines are offering temporary promotions letting travellers build a stopover into their travel itinerary. Not only does this allow you a little extra breathing time between some long-haul flights and a chance to visit a new place; the airline will foot some (or all) of the hotel bill.

Check out the promo offers below to see if you can fit a stopover into your trip.

Etihad

In hopes of encouraging visitors to spend some time in its Abu Dhabi hub, Etihad is offering a complimentary hotel on two-night stopovers through March 31, 2020 (travel must be booked by March 1, 2020). A choice of 20 different hotels is offered — and some are pretty solid, like the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi, the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, the InterContinental Abu Dhabi and Le Meridien Abu Dhabi.

Here’s how to get the deal:

  1. Book your multi-city flight on etihad.com.
  2. Then, select your favorite hotel from the list and be prepared to enter your booking reference. Although you’ll have to enter your credit card, you won’t be charged unless you don’t show up.
  3. Once you’re done, Etihad will email you a hotel voucher. While it’s unclear yet if you’ll be able to earn points on your stay, it’s definitely worth adding your loyalty number upon arrival.

Unfortunately, the offer isn’t valid for frequent-flyer redemption bookings, award upgrades or cash-plus-miles promotions. Make sure to check blackout dates and other regulations here.

Sunset at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Photo by Lori Zaino.
Sunset at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Lori Zaino/TPG)

Qatar

Qatar offers serious discounts for booking a four-night stopover in Doha, only charging minimal booking fees for stays at four- and five-star properties if you book by December 28, 2019 and stay by December 31, 2019. Rates are as follows:

Four-star hotel:

  • One night: $23
  • Two Nights: $86
  • Three Nights: $125
  • Four nights: $165

Five-star hotel:

  • One night: $28
  • Two Nights: $110
  • Three Nights: $160
  • Four nights: $210

Here’s how to get the deal:

1. Book on qatarairways.com using the multi-city option, adding a stop in Doha.

2. Make sure the minimum transit time gives you at least 12 hours in Doha.

3. Once your booking is finished, you’ll see the available stopover offers on the booking confirmation page, where you can choose your preferred offer.

Make sure your e-ticket number starts with “157” in order to be eligible for the stopover rates. For more terms and conditions, click here, and don’t forget to apply for your free transit visa here.

Oman Air

Oman Air’s offer is a little bit different. Booking a two- or three-night stopover gets you the first night free in a selection of three, four and five star hotels in Muscat. Prices for each of the participating hotels, as well as dates when the promotions expire (it’s different for each property) are clearly stated here.

For example, a two-night stay at three-star property Tulip Inn Down Town Muscat is $63 and a three-night stay is $115 (including complimentary airport transfers) through December 31, 2019.

Business and first class passengers can take advantage of a special offer for one complimentary night at Ritz-Carlton Al Bustan Palace through September 30, 2019.

All itineraries must be booked here and make sure to take into account blackout dates, visa information and other terms and conditions here.

Muscat is the perfect place for a stopover. Photo by TPG UK.
Muscat is the perfect place for a stopover. (Photo by TPG UK.)

Royal Jordanian

While Royal Jordanian’s stopover policy is quite vague, it may be possible for you to get one night free at a hotel (as well as meals and ground transportation) in Amman. However, the following conditions must be met:

  • The stopover must be more than eight hours
  • Same-day connections must not be available

If your flight meets these conditions, contact your nearest Royal Jordanian office to see if the service is available for your situation.

Emirates

Unfortunately, Emirates isn’t running any stopover promotions at the moment, but it is possible to book a stopover in Dubai at an added cost, and the airline will help you organize your trip. If you’d like to do this, use the Advanced Search option on emirates.com. Then, you’ll have to contact your local Emirates office for assistance in booking a stopover package, which you can curate to include things like hotel, transport, meals, visa arrangements and tourism activities (all at an added cost).

Featured image (the city of Doha, Qatar, from a Qatar Airways A350) by Alberto Riva/TPG

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