What if I explained United’s routing rules with just pictures? Well, and 200 words near the beginning… Might as well give it a try. Note that all examples are starting in the US and prices are displayed in economy unless otherwise stated.
While this is a more advanced post, it might be an eye opening read. If you have United miles, know that when making an award booking, you are allowed 1 stopover and open-jaw. We’ll see just how far we can push that!
If you don’t have United miles, check out the Credit Cards page. The first three credit card bonuses (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and United) can earn United miles.
Let’s begin with… Routes that are not allowed starting from North America:
Europe and Oceania are not allowed… and, Africa and Australia are not allowed.
Europe and Australia are not allowed… and, Africa and Oceania are not allowed.
South America is the land of not allowed, as you can’t combine it with any of the following places:
All those routes not allowed were laid out in United’s Award Routing Rules.
Also, if you are not familiar already, read How to Book Stopovers on United. If you don’t know that you get a free stopover (a stop as long as you want), two open-jaws, and how to book it, this won’t make any sense. So, read that first if you’re at all new to it.
A brief amount of words before we continue:
Many people ask me, “what combinations are allowed?”, “when can I backtrack and when can’t I?”, “how many times am I allowed through one airport?”, “can I stop in the same city twice?”
You’re missing the point and maybe seeing it in pictures will change the understanding. But the reason I start with the pictures above is simple: everything is region based.
Where can you add stopovers? Backtracking? *shakes head* United doesn’t see back tracking. It doesn’t! It only sees regions as defined by their award chart. With some regions able to be combined and some not. That’s what this is about. So you can add stopovers anywhere in a region that you are allowed to cross through. It doesn’t matter if you are going to open-jaw backwards. It just doesn’t.
After this post, hopefully you’ll come back to me with some tougher questions. Like about the definition of open-jaw.
Let us start slow. Legal routings are pretty much anything except what is shown above. Understand that this is starting from and ending in North America. Hawaii has much stricter routing rules. It’s a different region, ya know. Sometimes for the better.
United allows a stopover and two open-jaws.
You can add an open-jaw to a stopover or destination:
Or you can add one of the open-jaws to change where you return home to:
But how do you decide which one is the stopover?
Better yet, how does United determine the price when you traverse more than one region?
Like you show above, how do you know that Europe is the stopover and Asia is the destination and not the other way around? Couldn’t BKK be a stop over with an open jaw on the way home instead of the destination with an open jaw before returning home? How is can you tell which it is?
Because it costs 65,000 miles.
This is explained in a post, How United Stopovers Are Determined.
Examples of legal routings and their prices
All prices are based on the destination
Many of these price discrepencies are talked about in the Secrets of Award Pricing Engines!
US to Australia is 80,000 miles…
Yet, US to Australia and Oceania is 70,000 miles! Save 10,000 miles by seeing Fiji or something.
The US to the Middle East is 80,000 miles…
I’m sure you can see where this is going… But there are some secrets that I’d rather not publish publicly. Pretty much everything else in this article fall under that category. Plus, I imagine most of you are already signed up for the newsletter, where the password is found. The password is in the title of the last newsletter. Or if you sign up for the newsletter now, you’ll see the password first thing in the auto responder. Here it is:
Password = “Shhh…____ Hack Secrets!” The word missing in the _____ is in the title of the newsletter that went out Monday, Sept 30th, and is the password. (Case sensitive).