8 United Posts That Will Make You An Expert!

United-787There are concepts in this post that are incredibly important. These posts explain key features on routing rules, stopovers, and award booking tricks.

By reading one of these posts, you may understand why your ticket wasn’t booking or get a better idea for your next crazy booking.

1) The Most Powerful Zone concept

This is without a doubt, the most important post on my blog. It’s my best post of 2013 and the best post in three years of blogging because of the concepts it gives.

With the devaluation ahead, tricks to work United miles are the only thing that keep this program awesome. And if you can master the concept of “most powerful zones” (that’s just what I call it, you can suggest a better name I suppose), you can learn a number of other tricks.

The simple concept is based around stopovers. When you stop in two different regions, which price will it chose? You think it would label the destination as the furthest point and make that the price, but it doesn’t always work like that.

The example I always give is this: US to Australia is 80,000 miles roundtrip. US to “Oceania”, Fiji for instance, is 70,000 miles. Yet, if you stopover in Australia before/after a stop in Fiji, the price will be 70,000 miles. A simple way to save 10,000 miles and see more places.

There are surely other implications too.

Read more: The Most Powerful Zone


2) 4 Variations of the Pacific Hopper

The Pacific Hopper is a route we booked a couple of years ago that went from Guam to Rarotonga. The idea is that despite tons of flying, and the destinations being far apart, “Oceania” to “Oceania” (which covers almost the entire Pacific), the price was only 25,000 miles in economy or 40,000 miles in business for a roundtrip.

We flew Guam to the Cooke Islands with a stopover in New Zealand, got off the plane on the way back in Tokyo, and had long layovers in Sydney and Singapore.

But because of growing complications with United, the route isn’t possible to do the same way any more.

Here are some incredible alternatives for cheap flights (before and after the devaluation) to Pacific islands from Japan, Southeast Asia, and other options.

Read: 4 Variations of the Pacific Hopper


3) United Stopover and Routing Rules with Pictures

Perhaps this is the most popular post on my site. 249 comments and counting on this post (thank you readers! (although half are my comments I suppose)). But this post does have some importance in explaining which regions can and can’t be combined- rules I haven’t really heard explained elsewhere.

Plus, a post with a ton of pictures explaining things is probably easier than me trying to describe rules I’ve kind of learned on my own, since the rules aren’t published.

This could be my highest recommended post actually. If you read (or look at the pictures of) only one post, make it this one.

Read: United Stopover and Routing Rules


Renaissance Aruba Flamingo4) The Caribbean Hopper

This was born out of me having 17,500 miles in a couple of accounts. Actually, maybe it was bordem. Thinking, “what’s the craziest thing I can do with 17,500 miles?” and playing with

Our trip included Charlottesville to Puerto Rico with a 24 hour layover in Aruba, and a 17.5 hour layover in Panama City. Normally, I’m not that fast paced, but it was actually pretty fun. Aruba being a small island and all worked well, and Panama City was well-appreciated in the time we had.

But a reader, Johnny, took the same concepts and booked a trip to stopover for four days in St. Maarten, layover in Panama City, and stop for six more days in Puerto Rico. All that for 35,000 miles. Congrats on such a great redemption for your anniversary trip!

Read: The Caribbean Hopper


5) Why Everyone’s Been Having Issues with United Stopovers

A few concepts were introduced in this post.

Open-jaws are not allowed on stopovers. I hate to say it, but I have yet to see an actual example booked recently.

Also introduced are region based segment restrictions on award bookings. Before there were rumors that there was a limit of 3 connections on award bookings, but I dismissed it because I found many examples with more connections. Eventually, a reader submitted a theory that aligned with some of my theories.

The other thing this post does is explain the United error message. There are a few reasons that you may see the error message. It could be because the website is slow, or it could be because your route isn’t legal. This post helps you determine which one is your issue.

Read more: Why Everyone’s Been Having Issues with United Stopovers


6) The Latin Hopper

This is something I’ve been eyeing because I have accounts with 20,000 miles, but haven’t had the time to do anything with them yet.

But imagine this, any flight within Latin America (except for Southern South America) is 10,000 miles.

Then think about how a roundtrip is 20,000 miles and could include a stopover. Plus, you could open-jaw to a different destination. This essentially gives you four destinations to visit.

Origin -> Stopover -> Destination -> Return Destination

For example you could start in Mexico, stopover in Lima, then stop in Panama, and then return to Puerto Rico. All that for 20,000 miles. Of course, you have to get to Mexico and return from Puerto Rico somehow. But with tons of cheap options with Avios and now Southwest, it’s a steal of a trip.

Read more: The Latin Hopper


7) How Destinations and Stopovers are Determined

This is the key, hit upon in other posts, but fully explained here.

If you don’t know where your “destination” is, you can’t know the following things either:

  • You can’t know how many segments you can have
  • You can’t know where you can/can’t add a stopover
  • You won’t know what a ticket should price out as
  • You can’t know if your ticket has legal routing in terms of mixing regions
  • You won’t know where you can open-jaw too

Read more: How Destinations and Stopovers are Determined


8) The New Best Use of United Miles

This is a post about post-devaluation plans for United miles. Of course, the Pacific Hopper is a good redemption, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So here, I try to find positives and good redemptions that will still be here after Feb 1.



Of course, thanks for reading this year and allowing me to dive deeper into United miles. Since the program routing rules changed in 2012, I tried to nail down some reasons and advantages. I’m super proud to say that I made a number of discoveries and made United Stopovers kind of my niche of 2013.

Again, here’s the list:

  1. Most powerful zone
  2. 4  variations of the pacific hopper
  3. United stopover and routing rules secrets with pictures
  4. Caribbean Hopper
  5. Why everyone’s been having issues with United stopovers
  6. Latin Hopper
  7. How destinations and stopovers are determined
  8. The new best use of United miles

Related Posts:


  1. In the Latin Hopper section, what do you mean “But with tons of cheap options with Avios and now Southwest, it’s a steal of a trip.” Southwest doesn’t yet fly internationally (although they are supposed to start sometime in 2014 after fully integrating with Airtran). Do you know something about this? If not, what did you mean?

    • We flew Southwest to Puerto Rico. And they’ll be taking over more and more AirTran destinations (and I bet you they’ll expand a ton more from DAL in the future).

      Then short flights on AA, like MIA – CUN, are only 4,500 BA avios.

  2. I think your “8 Best Travel Credit Cards of 2014″ post has too many redirect links and needs to be fixed.

    • Thanks, I thought this was spam at first and then clicked on the post and saw it wasn’t working. We actually had a mix up with the url for whatever reason.
      But got it fixed, so thanks.


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