How to Get Free Transit Hotel with Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines has a massive route network. They fly to more destinations than any other airline but that doesn’t mean those connections are always the most convenient for the average traveler. With connecting flights departing around the clock, you may find yourself with an extended layover in Istanbul and in need of a place to rest your eyes in between flights.


Lucky for Travelers

Turkish Airlines does a good job of taking care of their long-haul passengers. In addition to their massive two-story business class lounge, complete with day rooms and shower suites, Turkish Airlines also provides free hotel accommodations for passengers with extended layovers. That’s right, Turkish Airlines will provide you with a free hotel room if you have an extended layover in Istanbul. And it’s not just for business class passengers. Economy class passengers can get in on the deal too.

Turkish Airlines Free Transit Hotel Rules

You must meet the following two criteria to qualify for a free Turkish Airlines transit hotel accommodation:

  • For Economy Class passengers, your transit time between your arriving flight and your connecting flight must be longer than 10 hours.
  • For Business Class passengers, your transit time must be longer than 7 hours.
  • Both your arriving AND connecting flights must be on Turkish Airlines metal.

That’s it. There are only two simple rules. But the key is that the transit time must be a naturally occurring transit time and not a FORCED transit time; meaning, if you intentionally take an earlier flight or book a later flight in Istanbul or at your point of origin to force a longer layover, your extended travel time will not qualify for a free transit hotel.

They are very strict about this so don’t try to game the system. I tried a couple of years ago and failed miserably. You can read more which connections qualify and which ones do not by clicking here.  But on this trip, I was able to score a free hotel room and wanted to share some practical tips about the whole process.

If you’re not sure if you will qualify for a free hotel room, you can always email them ahead of time to inquire. If you didn’t check ahead of time, you can always check upon arrival. Just follow the signs for international transfers and make your way to the Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge. There, you can ask a lounge attendant to check for you before heading down to the Hotel Desk.

If you already know you qualify for a hotel room, just walk down to the Hotel Desk located outside the arrivals hall to process your request. But let’s look at some practicalities first.

First and foremost, you need to get a travel visa for Turkey. All of Turkish Airlines’ contracted hotels are located outside the airport so in order for you to leave the airport, you will need an arrival visa.  You can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport for $30 in CASH. However, I would recommend you obtain one prior to your arrival. It’s simple, fast and easy and will only cost you $20. You can apply for your online Turkish visa here.

With your visa in hand, you can head towards the immigration checkpoint upon arrival. If you are traveling in business class, there is a dedicated business class priority lane just past the regular immigration lanes. Just keep walking about 100 feet for the expedited lanes on your left-hand side.

From here, exit out the baggage claim area to the arrivals hall. Make a right outside the door and walk down about 150 feet. The Hotel Desk will be on your right-hand side, next to the Starbucks, and across from the Turkish Airlines Arrivals Lounge.  The Hotel Desk also handles Turkish Airlines’ complimentary day tours. But note, you can only receive a free hotel stay or a free day tour per direction, not both.

Source: Travelcodex: / @jamesdozer