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Secret Travel Trick: Free Istanbul City Tour During Turkish Airlines Layover
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Secret Travel Trick: Free Istanbul City Tour During Turkish Airlines Layover

by jeffreySeptember 15, 2014

Here’s a pretty cool travel “trick”:  Turkish Airlines will either put you up in a hotel for the night or give you a free tour of the city if you have a long enough layover in Istanbul-IST. We covered the details on the free hotel room here (Secret Travel Trick: Free Hotel Layover in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines), now for the free city tour:

The Deal

You can participate in Turkish Airlines’ “TourIstanbul” for free by meeting the following requirements (can be a paid or award ticket):

bg_faq

  1. You’re flying Turkish Airlines into and out of Istanbul
  2. You’re just passing through Turkey, your origin and destination is international
  3. Your layover is between 6 hours and 24 hours
  4. Must be able to fit into one of the 3 following tour schedules:
    • Whole day, 9am to 6pm tour: arrive IST before 8am and connecting flight must be after 7:30pm
    • Half day, 9am to 3pm tour: arrive IST before 8am and connecting flight must be after 4:30pm
    • Half day, 12pm to 6pm tour: arrive IST before 11am and connecting flight must be after 7:30pm

How to Get It

Compared to the free hotel, the free Istanbul city tour has a lot fewer strings attached. Since the only requirement is to have a minimum of 6 hours connection time on your international Turkish Airlines transfer, there aren’t too many technicalities that might exclude you.

If you have time for the full day tour, here’s a sample of what you’ll be able to see:

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.26.08 PM

You must be an international transit passenger of Turkish Airlines.

Your connection should not be longer than 24 hours.

Our scheduled tours are everyday from 09:00 to 18:00, from 09:00 to 15:00 and from 12:00 to 18:00. Thus, your departure and arrival time of your flight should be compatible with our scheduled tours.

a – For 09:00 /18:00 Tour
Arrival time must be 08:00 or earlier than 08:00
Departure time must be 19:30 or later than 19:30

b – For 09:00/15:00 Tour
Your Arrival time must be 08:00 or earlier than 08:00
Departure time must be 16:30 or later than 16:30

c – For 12:00/18:00 Tour
Your Arrival time must be 11:00 or earlier
Departure time must be 19:30 or later than 19:30

Your arrival time should be enough to be ready at the Hotel Desk half hour before the tour starts. For instance for our 09:00 tour, we kindly ask you to be ready in front of Hotel Desk at 08:30 am. For the 12:00 tour, this is 11:30am.

Secondly, we expect our passengers to be ready for boarding and pass the passport and custom control minimum 1 hour before their scheduled departure time. For instance if we assume that your departure is at 18:30pm, we may only suggest tours ending at 15:00.

Where to Go

When you get to Istanbul, you’ll have to clear customs and immigration (and, if you’re a US citizen, pay $20 US in cash for a visa). Once out of customs, you’ll be on the Arrivals floor; turn right and walk to the end and you’ll find the Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk/TourIstanbul Meeting Point right next to Starbucks.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.12.51 PM

 

Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk Istanbul IST Airport

Source: Mr. Roboto

Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk Istanbul IST Airport 2

Source: Mr. Roboto

Details:

  • Free food! “Will we pay for the meals in the touri̇stanbul programme? — No, you are our guest. The food service is for free. We will introduce you with Ottoman cuisine and Turkish hospitality.”
  • Check out the full details here: http://www.istanbulinhours.com/
  • The tour itineraries vary slightly based upon day of the week due to the operating hours of some attractions
  • You must be able to obtain a Turkish visa to leave the airport when transiting internationally.
  • You cannot have both the free night and the tour during the same layover; however, you could schedule your flights so that on the inbound you participate in the free tour and on the return you make use of the free hotel
  • This is available for both paid and award bookings or don’t forget that Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member so you can use United miles for this trick, as well.
  • Contact info for the Hotel Desk is +90 212 463 63 63 / ext. 12426-15532 or touristanbul@thy.com and hoteldesk@thy.com.

BOTTOM LINE: Have a long layover in Istanbul? Turkish Airlines, the country’s national airline, wants to show you a good time and promote tourism to the region all while (hopefully) keeping you as a more satisfied customer by taking you on a free tour of the city.

Featured image source: by lonjemoko on pichost.me

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jeffrey
jeffrey