These days, flight delay or cancellation is a common phenomenon at transit or connecting airports between our origin and destination airports. Flying across non-direct routes is not as costly as affair as traveling on direct flights from USA to India, though the former leaves flyers with long layovers at times. While some travelers find it wearisome to spend an unexpectedly long layover, some others make the most of it by stepping out of the airport and going on a city sightseeing spree.
Thankfully, free layover tours are available for transit passengers at certain airport hubs of some of the major airlines. Some of the best airport layover tours are just premium add-ons. Most of the paid/free airport layover tours are organized trips to popular tourist sites within the easily commutable radius of transit airports, so that you can get back to board your next or connecting flight on time.
South Korea Incheon Airport: Free layover tours
Incheon International Airport – one of the best airports with free layover tours- offers 8 different layover tours to transit passengers who are stuck or waiting for their connecting flights at the airport. Incheon layover tours take a minimum of one hour to a maximum of five hours depending on the touring course you select. If you have a really long layover wait, you can take multiple tours. The tours can be booked in advance online on Incheon Airport’s official website.
The Incheon airport layover tours let you explore some of the most interesting and entertaining sites like Yonggungsa Temple (1 hr), Paradise City Art-Tainment (1 hr), Songdo Hanok Village & Triple Shopping Street (2 hrs), Jeondeungsa Temple & Deokjinjin (4 hrs), Gwangmyeong Cave (4 hrs), Worldcup Stadium & Hongdae Street (4 hrs), Gyeongbokgung Palace & Insa-dong (5 hrs), and Myeong-dong & Namdaemun Market (5 hrs).
Price: The tours are free but don’t include lunch and other expenses.
How to register for Incheon Airport layover tours:
The registration for the Incheon Airport layover tours is available at the Transit Tour Desks in Terminal 1 & 2 of the airport, and doesn’t require pre-reservations. However, the tours are booked on a first come first serve basis. Since there are only limited seats, it’s better to reserve seats online.
Japan Narita Airport: Free layover tours
Japan’s Narita International Airport is one of the best ten airports with free layover tours. While traveling on Japan Airlines flights from USA to Kolkata, Delhi or Mumbai via Tokyo, you can make the most a reasonably long layover at Narita Intentional Airport, which is a wonderful opportunity to explore the iconic city of Narita. There are few heritage sites and historical monuments within a short distance from the airport.
Thankfully, the airport offers free tour guides to travelers as a part of the Narita Airport Transit Program. These English-speaking tour guides, who are volunteers assigned by the airport, help you discover and experience the local culture and history within a budget. Though the tour guides are free, you need to pay transportation charges, entrance fees, and other expenses. The Narita Transit Program consists of several layover transit tours at low prices starting from only $5.
If your itinerary includes a layover as long as 6 hours at Narita, you must visit Shinsho-ji Temple and Narita-san Park, two of the most popular tourist attractions in the Greater Tokyo Area. You can also travel back in time by cosplaying in Edo Period Reproduction in Sakae Town.
Price: Free except transportation and other expenses.
How to register for Japan’s Narita Airport layover tours:
To sign up for Japan’s Narita airport layover tours, you need to register at the Narita Transit Program counter in Terminal 2. Or book a bus tour online into the Narita city on their official website at low prices.
Singapore Changi International Airport: Free layover tours
You can make the most of a layover at Changi International Airport while transiting through Singapore, and that’s too for free. Changi Airport offers free transit tours to travelers with at least 5.5 hours of layover. If you have more than 24 hours of layover time to kill, you might want to consider signing up for one of the Changi Stopover Packages.
Among the airports with the best layover tours, Changi Airport offers you free transit tours in two different categories: Heritage tour takes 2.5 hours and runs 5 times a day; and City Sights Tour also takes 2.5 hours but only runs twice a day.
Each of the both tours is unique in some or the other way. The heritage tour walks you through the history and architectural marvels of the colonial era in Chinatown and Little India. Meanwhile, the City Sights Tour offers a much contemporary experience of the city and its modern ‘Singaporean’ architecture comprising magnificent sites like the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands among others.
How to register for Changi Airport’s layover tours:
Sign up for either of the two Changi Airport free layover tours at the registration booths in the transit area of Terminal 2 and 3. In case if you’re in any other terminal, take the SkyTrain to reach either of the registration booths.
Turkey Istanbul International airport: Free layover tours
Istanbul International Airport’s layover tours can make your transit through Istanbul a wonderful experience during your flight from USA to Delhi IGI Airport, or Mumbai. Istanbul airport layover tours are only available for those traveling on Turkish Airline flights, during a layover of at least 6 hours. Those with a 20-hr layover are also eligible for a free hotel stay.
What Istanbul Airport’s free layover tours offer you is a journey to some of Turkey’s most fascinating historical monuments in Istanbul, such as Walls of Constantine, Tomb of Mahmud the 2nd, Saint Antoine Church, Monument of Liberty, Golden horn, Galata Tower, Beyazit tower, Blue and Aga Mosque, Ahrida Synagogue, etc. apart from providing an excellent opportunity to experience the Turkish food, culture and history.
How to register for Istanbul Airports layover tours:
Istanbul International Airport’s free layover tours are available exclusively to transit passengers of Turkish Airlines flights from USA to India and other destinations. Book a flight ticket on Turkish airlines with Istanbul International Airport as a connecting airport for Istanbul’s free layover tours.
Qatar Hamad International Airport: Free layover tours
Doha Hamad International Airport –one of the best airports with free layover tours – has the stopover plans for transit passengers of Qatar Airways flights with a layover of minimum 5 hours. You can avail Doha’s free airport layover tours even while traveling on cheap Qatar Airways flights from USA to India or vice versa.
Qatar also provides visa-free entry to nationals of 80 countries, including India and the USA, irrespective of the airlines they fly on. However, Qatar’s four-day free transit visa is available only for Qatar Airways’ passengers. You can book a Doha layover tour online at prices starting from $20.60 (USD).
If your layover is longer than 5 hours at Doha’s Hamad Airport, book a private, chauffeur-driven layover tour for an adventure into the desert at prices starting from $68.67 (USD).
What’s unique about Doha Hamad layover tours is a journey into the heart of the city with a fascinating blend of Qatari and Arabian cultures. Doha’s transit tours let you visit some of the most popular sites like Museum of Islamic Art, The Pearl, Souq Waqif, and Katara.
Price: Free for Qatar Airways passengers. For others, the prices start from $20.60 (USD).
Abu Dhabi International Airport Layover Tours
When you’re stuck at Abu Dhabi International Airport for at least 6 hours during a layover, take a transit tour into the capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi. Although Abu Dhabi Airport doesn’t officially offer any free or paid layover tours, you can take a free public transport and travel to any place in the city.
For travelers of 44 nationalities including the US, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, UK and EU, free transit visas to Abu Dhabi are available on arrival at the airport. Travelers of other countries like India are eligible for a free 48-hour transit visa if applied in advance.
Tip: Check details of Etihad Airways’ free Abu Dhabi Stopover Program with 48-hour free transit visa to the UAE and a free two-night luxury hotel accommodation.
How to register for Abu Dhabi Airport layover tours:
There are no official layover tours offered by the airport. However, you can book one of Abu Dhabi’s layover tours online offered by a private touring agency at a starting price of $40 USD.
Dubai International Airport Layover Tours
Despite being one of the ten best airports for a layover tour, Dubai International Airport doesn’t offer any official layover tours to transit passengers of Emirates flights from USA to India, or other airlines. However, there are several private tour operators offer Dubai City layover tours. You don’t have to spend a lazy layover at Dubai International Airport. Rather, book a Dubai layover tour and drink to the breathtaking view of Dubai from the top of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
Price: Starting from $20. There are also several great Dubai layover tours offered by private companies online at a minimum cost of USD 31.
How to register for Dubai Airport layover tours:
Emirates Airline also offers stopover tours in Dubai City along with discounts to customers who book through Emirates Airways. Emirates also offers free Dubai layover tours to transit passengers on a layover who are nationals of Australia.
Beijing Capital International Airport Layover Tours
Beijing has one of the ten best airport layover tours you can take during a layover longer than 9 hours at Capital International Airport. But if you have less than 9 hours of transit time, it’s better to entertain yourself inside the airport. There are several iconic and historical sites to see in the city of Beijing, like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and much more.
Although Beijing Airport doesn’t offer any free or paid layover tours, nor even for transit passengers of Air China flights, several private companies in Beijing offer excellent layover tours at reasonable prices starting from USD 25.
China offers 72-day visa-free travel in 18 major cities, which lets international travelers explore the cities of China hassle-free. Beijing offers 6-day transit visa-free travel to 54 countries including the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Sweden, Italy and UAE etc.