Say you're in transit in an airport in a country you're allowed to visit without a visa. Could you plan a trip with a 3 day stopover, and stay in the city for that period with your carry-on? This seems like an easy way to get a "free" visit somewhere.

Is it legal/possible/practical?

  • 1
    I don't know much detail, but I've heard of several people doing that. I think they even picked up their luggage.
    – nsn
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 13:24
  • Which country we are talking about? @nsn Under a transit visa?
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 13:38
  • @Karlson Flight from Europe to Costa Rica, stopping in New York (3 days transit) one way and Boston (1 day I think) the other. I am not sure about which Visa they had but I can ask.
    – nsn
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 14:11
  • @nsn Without a C-1 visa in the US?
    – Karlson
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 14:19
  • @Karlson I just asked quickly, I didn't get much detail but he told me he asked for a normal tourist visa, on-line, and show the print at the airport. Sorry, but I don't have more details.
    – nsn
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 14:24

4 Answers 4


It's definitely legal and possible, but whether it's practical depends on the airline. Some (typically state-run airlines) will allow or even promote such long stopovers as a way to attract tourists to the stopover location. I believe Emirates does this for Dubai.

But many other airlines will have drastically higher prices for such tickets as a part of yield management (which is all about making people who have specific time requirements pay more).


Yes, completely possible but depends on your ticket.

Just one example, Korean Air allows stopovers for up to a month in Seoul if you travel between two cities (Say London and Sydney) with them. Do note that the cheapest fares often do not permit this, and it is quite hard to find travel websites that will cater for these stopovers. (Go direct to the airline or travel agency)


I've done this a few times. My experience (with US airlines most recently) is that you can only do it for "free" if you keep the stopover below 24 hours. Beyond that they start charging double or triple fares.

The other (hopefully obvious) requirement is that you need to pick a city that's a normal stopover on the route between your origin and destination otherwise, again, the fare will go up dramatically.

Most airlines have a "multi-leg trip" booking form that lets you book unusual journeys. Put in the flights separately - i.e. origin to stopover city, then stopover city to destination, and the same for the return flight(s).

You'll probably have to do a lot of experimenting with dates and times to find flights that work and also have reasonable fares.

  • It's possible with U.S.-based carriers, but it depends on the fare rules. Note that if the stop is under 24 hours on an intercontinental itinerary, they will consider it a layover, not a stopover, and fare it as such.
    – choster
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 20:40

Yes it is possible. And it is not necessarily more expensive than the"normal" flight. Two years ago I went from Brussels to Johannesburg, via Abu Dhabi. The carrier from Abu Dhabi had at that time been advertising with "free" stopovers. I remember that I had to pay a fee to enter Abu Dhabi, but this had nothing to do with the flight ticket.

Moreover, the Icelandic flag carrier had a similar scheme for flights from Europe to the United States, via Reykjavik.

You should check these possibilities with the airlines.

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