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Why Everyone’s Been Having Issues With United Stopovers

Recently Wandering Aramean came out with a post talking about an issue he had booking a ticket for a friend. Eventually, an agent told him that there was now a limit of 4 segments (3 connections) each direction.

Meanwhile, I noticed tons of people saying that they had trouble booking tickets with United. And the reasoning was all over the board. No “circle trips”, “you can’t cross both oceans”, calling them round the world trips, you’re no longer allowed two open-jaws, no backtracking, just because, etc…

Most of them didn’t make sense. Well, sort of. The one that seemed to make sense was a limit on segments. Until I found example after example after example of bookings I could make (and other people made) with 5 segments each direction. I recently posted an itinerary that United allowed in The New Best Use of United Miles post.

How to learn United’s Routing Rules

The reason this change (whatever it is) has been so crazy is because they don’t publish routing rules at all. There’s no indication on paper of what’s allowed and what isn’t. Just basic stopover rules, like 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws. Which tells us nothing about the intricisies of the system.

Yet, I’ve made it a hobby to learn these rules. There are a few ways to learn United’s routing rules. It’s why I was able to learn and create a post on the United’s Most Powerful Zone – a technique that allows an award price to be tricked by adding a lower priced region.

It’s how I learned what regions can and can’t be combined in the beginning of the post on United’s Stopover and Routing Rules, where I say what routes are and aren’t legal.

The reason I learned the rules is trial and error. Here’s what you can learn from what I learned to discover new tricks going forward.

Everything is completely region-based

I can’t stress this enough. Look at United’s award chart. The regions in the sheet are what I’m referring to.

If Asia and Europe can be combined, that means that it doesn’t matter where in Europe you stop, you can combine it with anything in Asia. Period. So people who don’t get which places can be routed with which other places, don’t get this concept.

Prove it once

“So I can stopover in Paris on the way to Bali, but can I stopover in London?”

One you’ve confirmed that Europe (Paris in this case) can be added with SE Asia (Bali in this case), then you know that anything in Europe can be combined with anything in SE Asia.

Thus, all you have to do to learn the rules is dummy-book your route on a paralleled route with availability to prove its validity.

This next break down is key for most everyone…

The United Error Screen comes for 1 of 2 reasons

All United Errors during the award booking process can be credited to either:

  1. United not finding availability, or
  2. It not being a legal route.

What’s complicated is that there’s no way of knowing whether or not United is not finding availability because:

  1. There is no availability, or
  2. United.com is dumb and slow and when you bog the award search down with more segments (like with Multiple Destination searches), United just gives up. Thus, it doesn’t see results and gives the error.

But go back to the rule before and prove your route. If you’re not finding availability for Charlottesville to Santorini, Greece to Medan, Indonesia… try easing up a little. That’s too many short segments for slow, old, and dumb United.com.

Instead, try searching DC to Frankfurt, to Bangkok. It’s still using all the same regions, right?

Does that make sense? If you can prove DC to Frankfurt to Bangkok is a legal routing, than you can prove that Charlottesville to Santorini to Medan is legal as well. At least in terms of regions.

And if you’re trying to do an open-jaw, come up with an open-jaw parallel too. Prove that the route is legal, then you know that the error can be attributed to United.com.

Also note that even trying different dates, months further out with better availability can show very different results.

United.com and the program the agents use have the same rules

If that route is legal, the agents can book it. And really the only difference between the agents’ program and the program behind United.com’s award search is that United.com times out. It has to. Otherwise you have tons of people on United.com while it tries to search for every possible result.

So to keep their searches fast, it times out.

But the point here is, the rules are the same. The algorithms that determine what is or isn’t legal, and what determines the price, are all the same.

If you don’t get an Error, it’s valid

That’s right, if you start a search at all, it’s legal.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.06.34 AM

If it gives you an error on the first step, who knows. But if you’ve already selected the first leg, you’re good. Even if as soon as you click the blue “select” button it then gives an error, you’re still good. It’s clearly an availability issue. If it was a legality issue, it wouldn’t have let you get that far.

So all you need to do to prove it, is not get an error when you press search for the first time. Just once.

The Most Powerful Zone is the most important concept

I guess my main contribution has been the most powerful zones post, because I realized that everything complex hinges on this concept.

Pricing is determined by the most powerful zone concept. What zones can be combined is somewhat proven by this. And now the legality of routes is being determined by it.

Truly read that post if you don’t get it just yet. What I’m about to say depends on it.

The New 4 segment rule disproven

I’m not saying this wasn’t an important discovery, I’m just saying it’s not accurate. Never the less, this is what Seth was told by an agent. If I’m not mistaken, goofy United confirmed it over twitter.

Actually looking back they said both, “When booking a mileage ticket, the routing has to follow the rules of the fare as if it were a purchased ticket.” and “Most have always had a 3 connect max. This isn’t a new rule.”

I hate to call United agents dumb… but… This is contradictory and neither are true in the first place. Mileage tickets are not governed by the same rules. And further more, “purchased tickets” don’t have a “3 connect max”.

All around this is the dumbest response ever. And to say it isn’t a new rule when people have been booking tickets with like 10 connections is plain ignorant.

Or as Seth said in his post, “I don’t know where they get these answers but they’re definitely not based in any recent reality I’ve been a part of.”

Therefore, don’t listen to anything United says. They are ignorant. And this isn’t to be rude but it’s just a fact that no one knows all their rules except the guy who programmed it. And he’s probably a little confused.

In the recent New Best Use Of United Miles post, I show the following screen shot.

So, the point of the image was to show how you can trick a route. Round trip from the US to Africa is 80,000 miles. Yet… look at the picture above. Beautiful yes. But the point today is elsewhere.

The price above proves that the stopover is in Africa and the destination is Japan. Yet, the connections from DC to Tokyo are Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Zurich and Frankfurt. That’s 4 connections and 5 segments.

This is true over and over, with and without stopovers. This absolutely proves that this is not determined by number of segments alone.

Everything I’ve said so far is true. Now…

Now it could possibly be that there is a code that says for this region it’s 3 connections and for these two regions it’s 4 connections. Although, I have no reason to assume such.

What issue I am noticing

A very common route is to have a stopover in Europe on the way to SE Asia. It’s currently 65,000 miles roundtrip. You see 2 destinations. Like this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 10.28.54 AM

But this has been made better by adding open-jaws on both ends, seeing 4 destinations. For example, DC to London, and then continue from Paris instead. So the next segment is Paris to Phuket. Then continue the flight home from Bangkok.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.03.42 AM

Yet, when I hit search on the above, I got:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.04.04 AM

But let’s switch it up some from the first picture above, without the open-jaws. That one seemed to work. So let’s do this, open-jaw on the destination. Now we’ll fly into Phuket and out of Bangkok:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.12.02 AM

And it worked. Totally legal:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.12.35 AM

Just want to clarify one thing, if I reverse it – into Bangkok and out of Phuket – it still works.

So we know an open-jaw on the destination works, but not both the destination and the open-jaw. Could that one agent a commentor mentioned be right? Is it possible that despite the terms and conditions, 2 open-jaws are no longer allowed.

Well, I’m just going to alter one thing here… I’m going to open-jaw so we return back to the wonderful Charlottesville instead of New York:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.15.28 AM

And? It worked:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.12.35 AM

So what the heck?

Why does it allow two open-jaws now and not then.

The Answer

Let’s try the same route but no open-jaw in Thailand. Just an open-jaw on the stopover. Into London and out of Paris:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.18.04 AM

Results:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.04.04 AM

What happens if we reverse it? Bangkok first then open-jaw in Europe:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.20.05 AM

And…

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.04.04 AM

Let’s try a different example.

Open-jaw on the stopover of SE Asia on the way to the Destination India:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.21.51 AM

Result:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.04.04 AM

Yet, the route worked without the open-jaw.

Another Example

Open-jaw on the stopover of Ecuador and Peru:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.24.42 AM

Well so I don’t have to post the same dang error pic, I’ll just tell you it errors out. But if I do just LIM or just GYE, it’s fine. Even if I open-jaw EZE to SCL or anything else… it just doesn’t matter.

So here it is folks…

When you use an open-jaw on a stopover it doesn’t work.

I’m telling you, if it was an availability issue, eventually I could find an example that doesn’t error out. But the fact that I can book it easily to GYE or LIM or whatever, it says that United can find availability to/from easily… but it doesn’t book the open-jaw.

This is why knowing what the stopover and destination is, is going to be important. Because it doesn’t matter if you go to Bangkok first or Paris first, Europe is always the stopover and SE Asia the destination in that example. Everything is zone based.

I’ve spent way too much time on United.com doing stopovers in the last year or so. Way too much time. I think my eyes are going bad. Unless, I start booking stopovers on the phone I may need glasses soon.

And I’m telling you… This is not an availability error (at least not the Europe one I tested), it’s truly a legality error.

I would prefer to think this is wrong. Maybe I should continue testing. But it seems to fit the bill.

Of course, it could be an illegal route because of the connections caused by the open-jaw (as in the previous theory). But that doesn’t seem to make sense. 1) Open-jaws don’t cause connections, and 2) I tested the routes to and from each airport – London and Paris. And it seems to be fine.

So what does this mean?

Well, again, it means that you need to understand the most powerful zone. Why? Because you need to understand which is the stopover and which is the destination. Why? Because if it’s considered the “stopover” you won’t be able to add an open-jaw.

I started to wonder this with Lufthansa as I was thinking about why I couldn’t book an open-jaw despite availability and all. I won’t comment on LH right now, but with UA it seems that:

Open-jaws are for destinations.

Simply put. It doesn’t matter if you return to a different destination or are going to one.

Okay… actually there is a segment limit…

Although if you’re keeping up with the United routing rules closely you may remember that Wandering Aramean’s issue had nothing to do with stopovers – it was a oneway award that didn’t work. It was a oneway ticket from the US to Australia via Asia.

To be honest, I haven’t nailed down why some one ways work and some don’t. But what I have noticed is issues with forced layovers. Issues with certain routings that add more connections and not others.

Still if you read his post, the issue was for oneway awards. At least the example he used. And even talked about a memo in April that talked about the restriction being worse on roundtrips.

Note that my example doesn’t even rule out the 4 connection theory on roundtrips. So it could be that most multi-region roundtrips are limited by 4 connections instead of 3. And one-ways restricted by 3.

Honestly, I don’t have enough data to make a conclusion yet. Is it a limit of connections in the region of transit? The region of origin? Does it have nothing to do with connections? Does it just have to do with connections in regions? Is it really worse with one-ways than roundtrips?

But why is it that an example trip won’t work when I try to add a layover in Tokyo, but it will add the extra connection somewhere else on its own?

Then there are examples of people not able to add segments on the end of a flight in the same region, but are able to added connections in the transit region. It doesn’t make sense, yet.

Basically, this part is saying the 3 connection thing/4 segment thing isn’t entirely true and  Although I will say a lot of routes seem to work with 3 connections instead of 4. But again, it can’t be a rule of over all segments or it wouldn’t allow other trips to have 4 segments. It must be conditional on something else or coincidence. Also, keep in mind my example to disprove the 3 connections is a roundtrip.

I have hunches but I need more info…

*Update*

Kalendil commented below with the following info, and it seems to make a lot of sense to me:

For future reference, I have gone through the rules for several dummy bookings and found the maximum permitted transfers for a few regions, RT from North America.

NA – Europe: Unlimited
NA – South S. America: Unlimited
NA – Asia (North or South), Central Asia, Southern Africa, Australia: 4
NA – Anywhere one way: 3

Thanks so much for this comment. I would love to see whether or not this is confirmed by people’s experiences! Hopefully some readers can test this while I Safari tomorrow and then fly. (Looking forward to one and not the other).

Thanks Kalendil!

 

But there is a lot of info on this post on figuring out the rules and 2 heads are better than 1. If you try tickets on United.com or book tickets over the phone and they have multiple connections and work, please comment and share. If you have an example of an open-jaw on a stopover, also share.

If you have tickets that didn’t work, PLEASE SHARE. All caps folks… I went there. But really, if the agent starts telling you about how it isn’t working because no circle trips are allowed or no stopovers on full moons, or whatever they’ll say, ignore it. But truly, write down the route that didn’t work and tell me, please. 😀 Also, specify when you are trying to force a layover.

However, know that some agents don’t believe it will work and therefore won’t try… this doesn’t count. Only if the agent tries and it doesn’t price out or something.

Conclusions

  1. Don’t listen to any explanation by anyone who works for United.
  2. The 4 segment/3 connection rule is false. At least on roundtrips…
  3. Me thinks that open-jaws on stopovers are no longer.
  4. But you’re still allowed two open-jaws on the destinations.
  5. I can’t deny that there is an issue with connections somehow. I notice it most when trying to force layovers. There must be a rule behind it, but I can’t figure out what it is.
  6. What a fun game…

The rule is an overall bummer, whatever it is. But United is a “legacy carrier”. Th technical definition of a legacy airline is: perpetually broke and cheap.

Okay, I made that up. But I’m saying that their changes to the system are slight because they don’t want to over haul the entire system. Rather they do, but they won’t invest in it. Ways around and bugs will always exist.

One more thing: United has massively devalued their award chart, lack of award space, these added routing restrictions, and all airlines are reducing earnings on partners… United sucks. But I still love them.

I hope this post provided plenty of good information not only commentary on routing rules but information on booking.

Finally, I’ll be interested to hear thoughts on this post below. 😉

Drew

Related Posts:

65 Comments

  1. Hey Drew:
    You already have my successful routing, but here are some
    more pieces of data from my multiple phone calls with United.

    1) During a prior call, when my routing didn’t work, one agent said i needed to start and end in same city (dropping one open jaw) and she still wasn’t able to price it. She told me I could have only one open jaw.

    2) Here’s an itinerary that didn’t work:
    MCO-YYZ (layover)
    YYZ-MUC-FRA-BKK-DPS (stop)
    DPS-BKK-MXP (stop/oj)
    FCO-FRA-MUC-YYZ (oj)

    I had to remove FRA on the inbound to get the itinerary to work (with intervention from supervisor).

    3) I was also told in a couple of calls that my layover in YYZ for 18 hours was a “stopover” since domestic layovers were capped at 4 hours. I had to explain that Toronto is not in the US.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
    • Thanks Barb for commenting,
      But… isn’t Canada a US territory? I get so confused.

      Reply
  2. Hi Drew,

    I totally agree with that “Don’t listen to anyone from United”, I’ve schooled the United agent who was issuing my ticket, he even laughed at me when I was mentioning the open jaws, saying that wouldn’t be possible, it didn’t make sense, blablabla….at the end “Oh, it has priced it, how come? Let me check with my superior if this is OK”, I said “Like I told you 10 times, I know what I’m talking about, you can check with him, there’s nothing wrong with it.”. Argh!!
    The sad part is that we have to pay for people to get this kind of service, I only used it because one of the flights I want was giving error in the website.

    Now everything is fine and my wife and I are going to the US and from there to Maldives, Singapore and Thailand, thanks to you! Also I already got 4 BRGs in the Holiday Inn Resort in Orlando thanks to you! And even got a mistake fare in Thailand in a 4* resort for $15/night!!!

    Following your blog everyday!

    Reply
    • Testimonials:
      Routing to the Maldives, Singapore and Thailand.
      Four free room at a HI Resort and a 4* 15/night mistake fare.
      Thank you! lol

      It sounds like you’ve got a good grasp of the rules and things yourself. But I’m certainly glad to steal the credit. :-p

      But really, thanks for reading. Really appreciate. And thanks for commenting as well. 😉
      Let me know how the trip goes.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for this helpful post. We were explicitly told by someone on the 1K phone line that an open jaw is not allowed on the stopover. We wanted Boston –> Budapest; London –> Singapore; Seoul –> Los Angeles. The best we could do was Boston –> London; London –> Singapore; Seoul –> Los Angeles. (But given that I’m getting a ticket that prices around $10,000 for only 65,000 miles, I’m not complaining!)

    Reply
    • Well, that’s good confirmation for my theory. So thanks for sharing!
      And like you said, it’s still seeing the globe… it only sucks so much.
      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  4. Sorry, Professor D., I’ve skipped a few classes recently. And I’m sorry I did, too! I sure hope United doesn’t hire you to fix their mess. You are too valuable to lose!

    Reply
    • Rick good to see you again. 😉
      The airlines should be paying programmers first. But if Jeff S wants to make me VP or something, I’ve give them all the secrets. 😀
      Have I mentioned how much I love United?

      Reply
  5. Amazing!!!!!! These posts are why this blog is the best blog out right now.

    Reply
    • Thanks for kind words Jason! Keeps me going.

      Reply
  6. Not sure why folks are having trouble booking RTW’s and such. I followed your advice from previous posts and booked, LAX-IAH-IST (Stopover)-BKK(Destination)-LAX on TK, LX, and BR for 120,000 miles and $86.50 and the agent didn’t bat an eye. Unfortunately, I have to wait until March/April to select my seats on TK and BR, but LX in the mini-cabin is confirmed until hopefully one of their HON/HON Senator reserved seats opens up.

    Reply
    • Well, that’s true I have been booking over 3 segs, but I was advising people on double open-jaws.
      Sounds like a great trip (and good price). I love Bangkok and SE Asia and IST is on my musts list. gl on the upgrade.

      Reply
    • I see. That was something I was trying to do as well. I would’ve loved to fly in to IST and fly out of PRG and then fly in to BKK and fly out of SIN but I couldn’t get it to work. In either case, it just means I can spend a few more days actually in country as opposed to more cities and less time in them.

      Reply
  7. I concur with Jason, this stuff is great

    Reply
    • Thanks Edward. Glad to hear it.

      Reply
  8. I’m looking to book

    SFO-ICN (dest)
    ICN-CDG(stop)
    CDG-SFO

    Tried different dates with a lot of availability between those cities. But site give me error right away. Is it not valid routing anymore???

    Reply
    • So let me say two things:
      It’s a possible route for sue, but the website hates west coast to Asia trips (via Europe) simply because it is old and slow. So the number of opportunities or something makes the website time out on 99% of the routes.

      Also, I didn’t explain well the error thing but…
      Basically there are two options if it errors out right away 1) there’s no availability, and 2) It’s not legal.
      The thing is, right away, you can’t tell which it is. Because even if it’s legal it could be because 1A) the site times out or 1B) there’s actually no availability.

      So if it doesn’t give the error right away, it narrows it down to 1. However, just because it errors out right away doesn’t mean it’s two.

      Does that make sense? Was that far too wordy?

      Basically, it’s a legal route but the site has trouble with it.

      Reply
    • I did something similar to this last year. SEA – ICN – BKK (destination) BKK-VIE-PRG (stop) – FRA -YVR-PDX. For 65,000 miles. It would error out if I were to fly out of PDX and back to PDX, but gave me the booking online just by making it an open-jaw out of SEA. Bought a cheap ticket on Alaska to connect Pdx to sea in the way out and was able to see SE Asia and visit Prague in one months trip.

      Reply
  9. I thought the segment restriction was for South Asia, which doesn’t include Japan as a destination.

    Reply
  10. For future reference, I have gone through the rules for several dummy bookings and found the maximum permitted transfers for a few regions, RT from North America.

    NA – Europe: Unlimited
    NA – South S. America: Unlimited
    NA – Asia (North or South), Central Asia, Southern Africa, Australia: 4
    NA – Anywhere one way: 3

    Reply
    • Dear moses. Wow, when did you do this? This is seriously gold information.
      This is… exactly what I was searching for. I’m updating this info now.
      Thanks for commenting. This is awesome. I will test it myself of course (after ya know, 48 hours of flying), but it’s really good info.

      Reply
    • Hi,
      for NA-ASIA, you can go to see the fare rule that it indicated 8 transfer and 4 in each direction, but, you can have more than that yyz-ord-pvg-can//can-ctu-urc//urc-pek-yyz-yqm-yhz with 9 flights~ I try it on oct 29//nov1//nov 18,2014

      Reply
  11. Also, I ran into this line on Every Single One of these tests: EMBEDDED SURFACE SECTORS NOT PERMITTED ON
    THE FARE COMPONENT.

    Translation: no open jaws at stopovers.

    Reply
    • I may be wrong here, more research is required. Arcane and purposely confusing fare rules, etc.

      Reply
  12. FYI, I just recently booked the following in F (140k each)
    EWR-FRA-MUC (stop over)
    MUC-CDG-BKK-CNX (destination)
    HKT-BKK-HKG-ICN-JFK (open jaw’ed)

    9 flights, 2 oceans, 1 stop over, 1 open jaw :-)

    Reply
    • And it does follow the 4 connections rule. But definitely, no one should buy the can’t cross two oceans stuff. Tired of those agents telling everyone that lol
      Anyways, thanks for posting kurt.
      Drew

      Reply
    • Woops, had a typo…meant to say that I have *two* open jaws in that itinerary:
      1) leaving from EWR, returning to JFK
      2) flying into CNX and departing from HKT

      I don’t think I could have had a mid-stopover open jaw though (e.g., EWR-FRA-MUC // stop // CDG-BKK-etc)

      Reply
    • Is EWR …..JFK truly an open jaw? Isn’t it considered same city?

      Reply
    • No you were right the first time, JFK and EWR are the same thing. You can fly into one and out of another on a layover (although it’s really far).

      Reply
    • EWR-JFK aren’t THAT far. Takes realistically two hrs or less assuming you have carryons only (why WOULDN’T you?) and under 20 smackers with public transit. If you’re that desparate for the best deals, I doubt you’ll find it a problem. I was gonna do it on a cheap far to BOM this fall from LAX (over the Atlantic, obviously 😉 as a mileage run/short trip but dates didn’t work out.

      Reply
  13. My crazy route, inspired by your writing:
    Bah-ist-cdg-nrt/stop/-pvg(dest) in F
    Del-ist-bah in J
    100K

    Thank you for your amazing blog!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dundili. Awesomely on the way routing through Europe. 😉
      How o you plan to do PVG to DEL?
      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
    • Thank you!

      Use alaska pvg-hkg-del 12.5K in Y with stopover in hkg :-)

      Reply
    • Sorry, alaska miles on cathay

      Reply
  14. This is totally awesome content. Thanks, Drew.

    Reply
    • Thanks Rich. 😀

      Reply
  15. I priced out with a United agent this past weekend the following for 65K miles:

    CRW-IAD-VIE-BCN (Stopover)
    BCN-SIN-HKG (Destination)
    HKG-TPE-LAX-MSP-ORD-CRW

    So 10 segments worked. But when I tried to modify the BCN-HKG leg in order to spend more time in Barcelona, the only available flights changed that leg to BCN-MUC-BKK-HKG. This was a overall flight total of 11 flight segments, and would not price out with the agent.

    Reply
    • Hmmm… So that confirms the 4 connections on a route to Asia as Kalendil said. Very interesting. And if Europe is truly unlimited it shows that it determines the number of segments but the most powerful zone too.
      Much thanks for the comment, Denny.
      Drew

      Reply
  16. Hmmm…I booked a stopover with open jaw this fall with no problem over the phone. About to book another in a few days when miles show up and I got a preliminary, simpler routing to work on ual.bomb that was Europe/Asia (ps, who in the heck decided Azerbaijan is in the Middle East,specially when Georgia/Armenia right next door aren’t? jerks)

    I think with open jaws it didn’t used to matter on the start/end as much, that was an “extra” one, though I have not tested this personally.

    The rule now (as of some memo in April supposedly) is 8 connection total, you could have say 3 one way and 5 on the other FROM THE DESTINATION.

    So my routing LAX-MUC-IST-CPT/JNB-PEK-BKK; BKK-HND-SEA-LAX was legal according to those rules (for 65K)

    FWIW

    Reply
    • Do you still have access to the fare rules for that routing? I’d love to get a look at that.

      Reply
  17. I had written this on the earlier post about UA’s stopover rules but I’ll put it here too in case people find it useful.

    I was not allowed to book
    JFK-FRA-BLR (dest)
    BLR-FRA-ATH (stop)
    ATH-FRA-EWR(return)

    I was permitted to book
    JFK-FRA-BLR (dest)
    BLR-FRA (stop)
    FRA-EWR(return)

    The explanation I was given, by the agent and his supervisor, was that I could not fly into and out of FRA on the same leg of the trip…

    Reply
  18. Drew, hope you can help me out here. I am planning a family of 6 trip to Hawaii next summer. I used Avios for LAX to HNL for 12.5 each on AA.
    Since AA doesn’t have award space back HNL-LAX, I am looking at UA for that. Reading your blog, I was tried to price out like HNL-LAX(stop)-JFK(destination)-LAX(open jaw). It is legal and it is priced at saver level for 37.5 (I assume it will be 20k HNL-LAX plus 25k LAXJFK) so it is not bad as I saved 7.5k each. Is there any way to do better than this?

    Reply
  19. I am trying to book a trip for next summer on United. My booking errors out so don’t know what I am doing wrong. My plans were to start in New York City, to Houston, to London, to Rome, back to Houston. Yes I am a newbie….! What am I doing wrong? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Are you trying to stop in Houston the first time or just routing through Houston? And if so, is it on purpose?
      You can only have two stops (destination and stopover). But if that’s all in check, it could just be United erroring out. Timing out, so to speak.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the reply! I was planning to fly from New York City over Memorial Day weekend, stop in Houston for 2-3 weeks, then continue to London, Rome, and then end back in Houston. Does that sound like a “legal” ticket on Untied?

      Reply
    • I think you have too many stops. London is a stopover and Rome a destination.
      What you’ll have to do is by a separate ticket to Houston and then do the route.

      Reply
  20. Great post. I just noticed you have the most pages in my Evernote app. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hah, great. I didn’t even know that evernote could do website pages…? I still don’t have that app.

      Reply
  21. Hi,

    I enjoy your site immensely. It opens a whole new world for me, even signed up for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I’m trying to duplicate results that you’re showing.

    I want to book a flight to hong kong with a stop over in Rome from JFK. So it would be JFK – FCO -HKG -JFK

    It gives me an error of availability. Is that normal? What other route would you suggest?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Yea, it’s really common with multiple destinations just because it has a lot of flights to go through.

      I your not flexible on the dates you’ll just have to piece them together using the oneway search and call them in. And there might be an issue with the number of segments.

      Glad to hear your liking the site. Maybe I’ll see you in NYC soon.

      Reply
  22. Hi,
    Thanks so much for your awesome post!
    Today I called United to see if I can price this trip:
    IAD->NRT->ICN / ICN->NRT // ICN->JFK->IAD
    *stopover at ICN and ending at NRT, openjaw to ICN and coming back to IAD.
    The agent wasn’t able to price this trip. Is it because I am going through ICN three times? How could I modify in order to make this trip work? Do you have any suggestion>
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hey dsk,
      Hmm…. are those the only legs? Just like that? IAD-NRT-ICN-NRT/ICN-JFK-IAD?

      I think the issue is this:
      Let’s say the open-jaw has to go on the destination. That means the destination is IAD TO NRT and then ICN to IAD.

      But then look, your route to is this: IAD-NRT-ICN-NRT.
      I’ll have to look later, but something seems odd in it. Not because it’s back tracking but you went through your destination to get to your destination.

      However, I’m very very certain this used to be done. I/a friend routed a trip once that was IAD-FRA-EDI-FRA-DUB-FRA-IAD. And while the stop and destination was Edi and Dub, it’s basically the same thing.

      Have you tried online?
      Will look not tomorrow night (flying) but the next. Remind me if not. :-p

      Reply
    • Hey,
      Yes those are the only legs. I thought it would price with no problem but agent wasn’t able to..
      I did try online but still no luck..

      Reply
  23. Drew,

    I just booked (within last two weeks) two tickets, one-way on united/copa over the holidays. Routing is BOS-CLT-MCO-PTY-LIM-CUZ. Overnight stay in LIM, next day departure to CUZ. I couldn’t get BOS-CUZ to work on website in one shot, max I could book on website was CLT-CUZ. I then called in after booking and had agent add the BOS starting leg. No problems/charges ( i don’t have status with UA). I actually would have preferred fewer segments but this was only way to Machu Picchu on points during peak times.

    Reply
  24. For 4 transfers rule from NA to Asia
    For a round trip, is it 4 transfers each way? What about a stopover in Europe? treated as one of the four transfer?

    Reply
    • All the rules as far as connections on a roundtrip, are each direction. So it’s to the point referred to as the destination. A stopover is one of the connections, yes.

      Reply
  25. Thank you, super helpful as always. You sorta already touched on this on my previous comment, the one where I was trying to combine LAX-CGK // HKG-JNB // JNB-Europe.

    Thanks again for the clarification, makes sense now.

    Reply
  26. So I have a good news for you – I just booked my open jaw with my stopover.

    I am flying from JFK to Asia with a stopover in Europe. After talking to 3 phone agents all quoting me different reasons the system does work (first one saying it’s around the world and I am flying 3 regions, second one telling me I must have a United flight in the mix, third one saying I am flying backward in Europe) and 4 hours later, and lots patience and explanation what they told me doesn’t work, the agent manually adjust me an open jaw for my stopover in Europe. So the bad news is the system is definitely changed, but with some patience and luck, it can be manually done.

    Reply
  27. I am rather new to this, we are a family of 5 planning a trip to Europe this summer.
    YUL-AMS
    CDC-FCO
    FCO-YUL
    We have a bunch of aeroplan, can we use it to book on United and price it at 45,000 miles?
    Also, I tried departing from another city in Italy but it will not let. Thanks for the answer.

    Reply
  28. I have tried booking this simple open jaw on UA.com and via phone and am told it’s not allowed:

    ORD-NRT
    MKE-ORD

    Why?

    The reason I want to do this is so I can have a 5 segment “outbound” with a stopover, for example:

    ORD-NRT-ICN-TPE-BKK-SIN
    with a stopover in BKK of say 3 days

    I would only pay 10k more for MKE-ORD to make it a “round trip” so I get the extra segment and entitlement to a stopover

    Thoughts?

    Reply
  29. Hi, thought I’d share some info and also ask a question:

    I was able to successfully price out a ticket after calling United for these two trips:
    – LAX-IST / IST-MLE // MLE-IST-IAH-LAX
    – LAX-FRA-CDG / CDG-SIN-BKK // BKK-TPE-LAX

    However, for my latest trip idea, I was unable to price out the ticket and the United agent said that its because the computer thinks its a round-the-world trip, which I don’t agree, since my second example was successfully priced out. Here’s the itinerary:
    LAX-IST / IST-MLE // MLE-SIN-BKK-TPE-LAX
    Is this trip legal? Isn’t this just the basic NAmerica to Asia (MLE) via Europe (IST)?

    Any help is appreciated! Thanks!!

    Reply
  30. Is this route possible:
    CLE-DUB/DUB-SIN
    SIN-CLE ?
    I have tried and cant get it to work but cant understand why it cant work since there is only 1 stopover at DUB, total segment is 4 each way.
    CLE-BOS-DUB-FRA-SIN, SIN-FRA-JFK-CLE.
    Appreciate if someone can tell me why this cant work.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  31. United is hiding saver awards from me. When I do the following route as one ways (for November) there is good saver availability with only two legs between each stop for six legs total:
    LAX-DXB (Stopover)
    DXB-MNL (Destination)
    MNL-LAX
    When I try to price the whole thing I am only shown standard awards as my option.
    Over the past weeks as I have been playing with routings and different possible destinations. I see business and first availability disappear when I try to put the single destinations together into one multiple destination trip.

    Reply
  32. Was I not educated enough or were United reps wrong?? A trip for my parents had to be split due to open-jaw that was not allowed, thus we booked the following sets of tickets: GDN-MUC for May 10 (20K miles in business class) and then FRA-JFK on May 12 with return JFK-FRA-GDN on May 26, 2014 (100K miles respectively).

    Reply
  33. Hi Drew,
    So I was planning a trip for South Africa and wanted to stop in Korea on the way or back, so this post was PERFECT for me!!! It was almost the exact routing I wanted and have been having an impossible time booking with United. I see here that you were able to price it out perfectly, but whenever I try to do it or have an agent do it, I get an error or they try to price it out as two separate trips. I would be happy booking the exact same route you had here, just replacing Tokyo with Seoul. Any tips on what I might be doing wrong or how to successfully get this route? Thanks!

    Reply

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