Turkish Airlines has a massive global route network through its Istanbul hub, as the airline flies to more countries than any other airline in the world.
Given the carrier’s complex network, in some cases, passengers might find themselves with an extended layover in Istanbul. The good news is that if your layover is long enough, you may be entitled to a free hotel room, which can make your travel experience much more pleasant.
Basics of Turkish Airlines’ transit hotel program
Turkish Airlines offers passengers with extended transit periods a complimentary hotel stay. Keep in mind that in addition to this, passenger can also take advantage of a free Istanbul city tour, which is a great way to explore one of the world’s most vibrant cities.
As you’d expect, there are some terms to be aware of when it comes to the free hotel program, so let’s go over all of those details.
How long does your connection have to be?
In order to get a free transit hotel, economy passengers need a connection time of at least 12 hours in Istanbul, while business class passengers need a connection time of at least nine hours in Istanbul. You can receive a stopover hotel for a maximum of two days.
This program only applies if you take the next available connecting flight to your destination. In other words, you can’t intentionally book a connection for a later flight and still receive the free stopover hotel.
Who is eligible for a free transit hotel?
Turkish Airlines has fairly few restrictions beyond the above regarding who is eligible for a transit hotel. It doesn’t matter if your ticket was issued by Turkish Airlines or a partner airline. Furthermore, award tickets qualify, regardless of whether you book through the Turkish Miles&Smiles program, or a partner frequent flyer program.
You must be connecting internationally. Codeshare flights also qualify, as long as Turkish Airlines is operating the flight. Furthermore, all of your segments must be on a single ticket, so you couldn’t take advantage of this if your flights to and from Istanbul are on separate tickets.
How do you book your free transit hotel?
With Turkish Airlines, there’s no need to reserve your transit hotel in advance. When you land in Istanbul, instead follow the signage to Turkish Airlines’ hotel desk, and your reservation can be made on the spot. I haven’t heard of any availability issues, so you shouldn’t get rejected once there.
Note that Turkish Airlines uses hotels outside of the airport for this service, so you won’t be accommodated airside. Therefore you can expect that you’ll be put on a (free) shuttle to get to your hotel. In some cases these hotels can be quite a distance from the airport, given that there aren’t many hotels around Istanbul’s new airport.
Do you need a visa for entering Türkiye?
Expect that if you take advantage of Turkish Airlines’ transit hotel program, you will need to meet the requirements to enter Türkiye. For many nationalities, this requires getting a visa, which you can either get at the airport, or apply for in advance. You can learn more about Türkiye visa requirements at this link.
Turkish Airlines’ business lounge nap rooms
The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge Istanbul is excellent, and is among the best business lounges in the world. Separate from the layover hotel program offered by the airline, it’s worth noting that the lounge offers proper nap rooms that select passengers on shorter layovers can take advantage of.
This is specifically available to Turkish Airlines business class passengers (including those on award tickets) who have a layover of between four and nine hours, where they’re taking the next available flight. Furthermore, either your arriving or departing flight needs to be at least eight hours, so this excludes those connecting between short haul flights.
If those requirements are met, you can take advantage of this perk, which offers you a comfortable private room with a bed where you can sleep. Note that the bathrooms and showers are down the hallway and separate from the rooms, so it’s not quite as good as a proper hotel room. However, for a shorter layover, this is a fantastic way to get some rest.
Turkish Airlines offers an excellent complimentary hotel program for those with long layovers in Istanbul. You can take advantage of this with a layover of nine or more hours in business class, or a layover of 12 or more hours in economy class. This can be a great way to get some rest between flights.
If you’re traveling in business class with a shorter layover, you can get a complimentary nap room with a proper bed if you have a layover of between four and nine hours. This is in my opinion the best in-lounge nap setup you’ll find in any business class lounge in the world.
If you’ve used Turkish Airlines’ free transit hotel program, what was your experience like?