How to Book Stopovers on United

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

Stopover rules United


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 and click “Award” and then click “Multiple Destinations”.

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 10.50.50 AM

Step 2: Following the rules above create your route like this:

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 11.03.53 AM


Step 3: Click these little blue boxes under the desired class of travel (in this case economy), all the way through to the end…

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 11.01.26 AM

Until you see this…

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 11.02.52 AM


Congrats, now you can book it or reserve it (put it on hold for a few days).


4) Error.

If you ever saw this…

United Error

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 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).

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 12.04.32 PM

But I assure you, the best is yet to come…

In the meantime, any questions about stopover rules, finding them and booking them?

Related Posts:


  1. I just tried to do a stopover and it’s wanting 35k miles for the trip that should be only 25k miles, all in economy. My route is DEN-BOS, BOS-ORD (stopover), ORD-DEN. I followed your instructions on the United website. I even found every leg individually and they were all 15.5k miles each way. What could be going wrong?

    • Sorry I missed this comment, Ken.
      Yea, unfortunately I failed to mention the important detail that it has to be on an international route.

  2. These rules are applicable for INTERNATIONAL routing. Not domestic awards.

  3. Hello, thanks for a great site. It’s great help for a newbie! So, does the system automatically calculate the lower award fare for “stopovers” rather than three separate one-ways? And is this only applicable for round trips? Next summer, I’ll be flying from Santiago to Texas to Alaska to Seattle to (insert final destination for grad school). It’d be nice if one or more flight was a stopover! Since I’m originating in S. America but ending in US, does that mean domestic rules will apply? Thanks for any help you have!

  4. Hi Drew! I just discovered your site, and am learning so much!
    However, I have a couple questions.
    Just to clarify, stopovers aren’t only for award travel, right?
    Also, you stated that you don’t find it worth it to use United miles for domestic flights. What about flights from the US to Canada? Southwest doesn’t fly there, so the cheapest option seems to be just paying for a United flight. I’m having a little trouble evaluating whether paying 35,000 miles (w/ one stopover) is worth it for a flight that would otherwise be $500.

  5. Hi Drew!
    I’m new to booking with rewards and having some trouble. All the flights I’m looking at seem to need a lot more rewards than the standard amount you mentioned to different locations across the world. When I’m looking at a bunch of one way tickets, it especially looks like it could add up quickly. Am I missing something? Thanks!

  6. This routing does not seem legal according to the 1 stopover, 2 open jaw rule. Why do you think it is? Have you actually booked this or an identical itinerary? Thanks.
    The end product would look like this: JFK – LHR / CDG – SVO / LED – JFK

    • Any luck on this question? Thanks.

    • You can actually have the open-jaw on the stopover any more. Which means that the LHR/CDG would have to be LHR, OR, CDG.

      Hope that helps.

  7. Why on United? They have some of the smallest seat, pitched closest together, of all airlines. OK for short hops, but overseas? Ugh! Can you tell us about other airlines, please?

    Does this work when one is paying for tickets?

    • Also wanted to check if it’s the same for paid tickets? I’m taking UA and my route is SIN-LAS and then LAS-DEN-NRT-SIN, can I do a stopover at DEN?

  8. Do I have to always find saver award economy in all segments during one-way search? Can I use standard award in mulch-destination search in certain segment and pay the least amount of miles possible?

  9. So maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but after a careful read of your United posts I still didn’t realize: I was just talking to a United agent and she said that *stop-overs and open-jaws are only allowed on round-trip tickets*.

    Worth noting for my husband and I, who live overseas and travel to the US to see family. If we don’t have enough miles on one airline for both of us to have RT’s, we’d usually rather do two one-ways with different airlines so we’re traveling together the whole way. But this makes it tempting to change our strategy..!

    • this is really important!! I think it needs to be typed bold at the beginning. I just booked the first leg of my flight from Germany back to America, as a one way trip, and will not be able to take advantage of this now :(

  10. This blog is very Interesting

  11. Hi Just got hooked on to your amazing site. I am new to travel hacking. I have 60000 points on my chase and have no idea how to use it. I live in california with access to SJC, OAK and SFO airports. I am looking to travel to europe from dec 23-jan3 this year. destinations I am interested in- ( spain/ prague-budapest-berlin/turkey-greece/germany-austria/croatia)
    any ideas to hack? !

    Thanks :)


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