Before I do any more posts on doing complicated routes using stopovers with United, I want to give one basic post that shows how to book stopovers with United. This has been discussed before but I need one “how-to” to reference in a future post on how to trick the pricing calculator.
Before we begin explaining stopovers and open-jaws with United, first lets give definitions of what those things are.
Stopover: A stopover is when you turn a connection/layover into a stop that is more than 24 hours. It essentially is a second destination on your ticket. Stopovers can be as long as you desire, no different than your destination.
Example: A flight from NYC to Moscow could have a stopover in London. You could spend one week in London and one week in Moscow.
Open-Jaw: An open-jaw is when you fly into one airport and continue your journey out of another. This means the airline that allowed the open-jaw is not responsible for getting you from one airport to another. You can add an open-jaw to any stop (stopover, destination or where you start/end).
Example 1 – adding to a stopover: A flight from NYC to Moscow with a stopover in London could have an open-jaw added to the first stop in London. NYC to London is your first flight but you continue your flight from Paris, and go Paris to Moscow. An open-jaw is that break in the itinerary.
Example 2 – adding to the destination: A flight from NYC to Moscow could have an open-jaw added to the destination so you return the flight from St. Petersburg. NYC to Moscow is the first flight and the second would be St. Petersburg to NYC. Again, the open-jaw is the fact that the airline is not responsible to get you from Moscow to Petersburg.
Example 3 – adding to the start/end: A flight could start in NYC and go to Moscow and then return Moscow to Washington, DC. The open-jaw on the end means you can pretty much return to anywhere.
1) The rules for United
You are allowed one stopover and two open-jaws.
Essentially you are getting two stops in your itinerary and you can add two open-jaws to the stops or ending. This does not change the price of the ticket in anyway. You’ll pay the same amount of miles if you don’t use your extra stop… so might as well use it.
An example of using all 3: Well, you could combine two of the open-jaw examples with the stopover example. A flight from NYC (JFK) to Moscow (SVO) could add a stopover in London (LHR). JFK – LHR – SVO. But then you can add open-jaws to London so that you return from Paris (CDG) and and Moscow so you return from St. Petersburg (LED).
The end product would look like this: JFK – LHR / CDG – SVO / LED – JFK
2) Booking on the phone
Step 1: You call United MileagePlus.
Step 2: You book the ticket.
Step 2b: Unless the agent sucks, in which case you hang up and start over.
Any questions? Okay, moving on.
3) Booking online
Step 1: Go to United.com and click “Award” and then click “Multiple Destinations”.
Step 2: Following the rules above create your route like this:
Step 3: Click these little blue boxes under the desired class of travel (in this case economy), all the way through to the end…
Until you see this…
Congrats, now you can book it or reserve it (put it on hold for a few days).
If you ever saw this…
Chances are the problem is availability on one/some of the dates you selected. Try searching one-way awards on each route individually to see if you can change the date to help.
I wrote an entire post on how to avoid the United error screen but honestly, if it keeps coming up and you swear there is availability it could be a problem on United.com. For some reason it will sometimes show less availability when searching multiple destination awards.
5) Back to calling. If it’s a valid route and you see availability when searching oneway awards, or if you don’t want to deal with the computer, just call it in.
Again, this is ground work to do awesomer things. If this bores you though, read about how I used 40,000 United miles to book a business class ticket to go from Guam to the Cook Islands via Singapore, Sydney and New Zealand, in the post Pacific Hopper With Miles.
Also, worth noting: you are allowed layovers. Layovers are stops less than 24 hours. But 24 hours might be enough to see some cities and you can just add them to your trip without an extra cost. Sometimes you can add multiple layovers to have quick visits, seeing more cities on your way, not including stopovers.
Read “how to book long layovers with United miles“. Using this and stopovers Johnny from San Francisco in the comments shared that he booked a flight to the island St. Marteen for 4 days, then Panama city for 17 hours and then San Juan Puero Rico for 6 days, all with 35,000 miles per person for his anniversary. (Congrats Johnny, enjoy the well booked trip).
But I assure you, the best is yet to come…
In the meantime, any questions about stopover rules, finding them and booking them?