How to Get a Turkish Airlines Free Transit Hotel


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Turkish Airlines free transit hotel stay… did you know you can get one?

Turkish Airlines has a huge fleet and network, which dominates New Istanbul Airport, the largest airport in the world.  Some of the Turkish Air routes have notoriously long layovers. Thankfully, Turkish Airlines values its customers enough to offer layover hospitality for qualifying layover guests who fly with them. I have had the opportunity to stay at Turkish Airline’s free layover hotel …twice.

What is Turkish Airlines layover hospitality?

If you have a long layover at New Istanbul Airport, then Turkish Airlines offers layover hospitality for its passengers. Layover hospitality can be one of two choices- either, a free Istanbul hotel (up to a maximum of two days) or a free day tour of Istanbul and you have to have flown with them and qualify.

The best news is that this offer is not only for Business Class passengers. Economy Class passengers can get a free hotel stay in Istanbul for their extended layovers too!

Read my Turkish Airlines Economy review

Turkish Airlines long haul flight from San Francisco to Italy

When I knew I’d been accepted to attend a Social Travel Summit conference in Ravenna and my flight expenses would be sponsored, I researched flights and I was thrilled to see an itinerary flying Turkish Airlines. I was going to have my first Turkish Airlines experience and it had a 15 hour layover.   Flying from Honolulu to Bologna (Italy), I knew I’d be a soldier going off to a long war… 40 hours worth, at least .

Generally, I try to make use of my layover time. Sometimes, I will use them to create extra travel. So 15 hours felt like a decent time for decent options.

Read travel tips on connecting flights and layovers


Turkish Airlines itinerary honolulu to bologna
Turkish Airlines itinerary honolulu to bologna


What are the qualifications for a Turkish Airlines free hotel stay?

Turkish Airlines has qualifications for rewarding passengers with their hospitality program. You have to meet the qualifications for it, namely:

Economy Class passengers having a connection time of 12 hours or longer and Business Class passengers having a connection time of 9 hours or longer can benefit from hotel service free of charge in case a transit flight with a shorter connection time is not provided for the related travel. (Note: For transit flights with a connection time shorter than the designated above, you will not be able to benefit from this service even if the transit flight with a shorter connection time is full.)

Also, in order to qualify, the booking has to be organic. It cannot be a route you’ve pieced together to create an unnaturally long layover nor does it count if you book a day’s stopover in Istanbul for a quick vacation.  In my itinerary, I really had no choice. That was the organic route and it was not purposely created that way.

Read my tips for staying in hotels

Getting a Turkish visa online for a layover

If you have a layover and are staying solely in the airport layover area awaiting your next flight, you do not need a Turkish visa.

But if you are planning to leave the layover area to see the city or visit the outer part of the airport, you need a Turkey visa.

By partaking in Turkish Air’s day tour or hotel, a Turkish visa was required. Turkey does not have a visa on arrival so you need to get your visa in advance. American travelers can get a Turkey visa online quickly and easily (government website here). Cost $20 and is valid from the date you request and onward for 60 days. I got my visa within a day.

Check out my Ultimate trip packing checklist tool (Free printable download)

How to Find Turkish Airlines hotel desk location at New Istanbul Airport

Opened on October 2018 and costing over $12 billion, the New Istanbul Airport is the world’s biggest airport. It is 22 miles from Istanbul and a bit out in the boonies. There is a metro into Istanbul apparently but I did not explore that option. I was here solely for the layover hotel.
SO Prospecting 728x90 min

Arriving into New Istanbul Airport, I went to the Turkish Airlines hospitality desk outside of Arrivals. The office has two hospitality sections~ 1) free transit hotel and 2) free transit tour of Istanbul. You tell them your flight number or give them your itinerary and they ask you to sit and wait as they check to make sure you qualify.

Turkish Airlines hospitality New Istanbul Airport
Turkish Airlines hospitality New Istanbul Airport


A representative calls your name and you are allowed to join the group to take the shuttle to your hotel.  The hotel I stayed at was located at least 20 minutes away from the airport.

Turkish Airlines hospitality New Istanbul Airport
Turkish Airlines hospitality New Istanbul Airport
turkish airlines hotel shuttle
turkish airlines hotel shuttle
Traveling to Turkey? Check out Things you NEED to Know before visiting Cappadocia

Turkish Airlines Free Transit hotel

Turkish Airlines is very organized about their free layover hotel. They hand you your key with information such as Free Wifi,  the meals included in your stay, and the time your shuttle pick up time.

Your room has all the standard amenities of a four-star hotel, complete with complimentary water bottles and room slippers. Watch my video for the entire experience as well as a tour inside New Istanbul Airport!

turkish airlines transit hotel meal
turkish airlines transit hotel meal


Watch my Turkish Air free Istanbul hotel & New Istanbul Airport Video

Turkish Airlines long haul + free transit hotel Turkish Airlines + New Istanbul Airport




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Reviews, Airlines, Hotels


  • Hi, did you need a transit visa to access their hotels?
    They just told me I will not need it since I will be staying less than 24 hours and the hotel is on the airport itself. I’m finding this hard to belive after all the negative reviews. Just want to double check. Thanks.

    • I was under the impression you needed one, but no one checked it when i got there. Technically, it is handled by Turkish Air, but… you are leaving the airport and are on Turkish soil. The hotel is far from the airport and you could easily catch a taxi and sightsee.

  • Misbah Ul Haq Syed
    September 16, 2020 8:03 pm

    Hello, Is it necessary to book only via Turkish airlines or can be done via any flight booking website. Thanks in advance. Kind regards. Misbah.

    • Hi Misbah. You can book it via any flight booking site. However, TA is supposedly particular about ensuring that layover/free hotel is met truthfully meaning folks are not purposely delaying their layover for the purpose of getting a free hotel. 😉

  • THY sucks especially customer servixe response.
    Stayover is only acceptable for international to international flights. If your flight is canceled or changed, international and connection domestic, they dont give a shit. No compensation, even writing to contact us phone or email. The reply is: you must pay your own hotel and transfers. Worst customer service.
    By the way, I am Turkish and work in hospitality business, knowing how to take care guest service

  • Patricia - SavvyExploring
    January 31, 2020 3:31 pm

    Great post! We also took advantage of this and we were shocked by the great free meal. We didn’t even know it was included until we check into the hotel and they said the we only had one hour left for the dinner included with your room so to please go quickly. We had a relatively short layover (13 hours, which put us just over the limit) and we were exhausted so we didn’t have time to explore much, but the hotel we were in was right near a cute little neighborhood with lots of shops and a train station.

    My only complaint with the experience was the process of taking attendance. They called out each person one at a time in the airport (very difficult with name from all over the world), then we got on the buses and they did it again, and at check-in same thing all over again. I feel like something like the deli number ticket system could greatly improve and speed up that process with much less confusion. Hold up a sign with #106-120 form a line here please? Works for plane boarding.

    • Hi, did you need a transit visa to access their hotels?
      They just told me I will not need it since I will be staying less than 24 hours and the hotel is on the airport itself. I’m finding this hard to belive after all the negative reviews. Just want to double check. Thanks.

Comments are closed.