Travel Rewards Credit Cards


Airline Stopovers and Open-Jaw Rules With Pictures

Frequent flyer miles are freaking awesome if only for the fact that you can have stopovers when using them.  Of course, it’s awesome when you figure out how to get miles for free, but it’s all the more awesome when you can use those miles to get to see more places than you could on a paid ticket.  And that’s what this post is about.

As always, let’s begin by defining terms a bit, just so we’re all clear about what’s what for the rest of the post.

A stopover is a stop in your ticket, much like a second destination.  Generally for domestic trips it is a stop of 4 hours or more and for international tickets, 24 hours or more.  The reason I describe it as a second destination is because it can be as long as you want.  Heck you could spend longer at your stopover than your destination if you want.

An Open-Jaw is a gap in your ticket not filled by the airline.  For instance an open-jaw is when you return home from a different airport than your destination, or it could also be when you fly home to a different airport than your original departure. The assumption with an open-jaw is that you will get yourself from one airport to another.

So now that we know the terms, there’s something else we have to be clear about.  Not all stopovers are created equally, or rather, each mileage program has its own rules for stopovers and open-jaws.

American Airlines – 1 stopover in the “North American gateway city” on oneway awards

What’s great about this is that you can use stopovers on oneway award tickets, unlike most award programs.

Unfortunately you can only book stopovers using American Airline miles in North America. Very specifically the last city you touch when leaving the continent and the first returning.

American Airlines Stopovers

American Airlines Stopovers

But because it’s just programmed as the first or last city, the routing doesn’t have to be logical. If you find a ticket from LA to Europe, you could start in New York and stopover in California on your way to Europe.

American Airlines Backwards Stopovers

American Airlines Backwards Stopovers

And better yet, because it can be added to oneways, you can book a totally separate ticket back with another stopover.

American Airlines Stopovers on a Oneway Return

American Airlines Stopovers on a Oneway Return

US Airways – 1 stopover or 1 open-jaw

US Airways Stopover

US Airways Stopover

Better hop on these prices while you can. Plus the routing rules are very generous. And remember to explain to the agent which is the destination so he/she knows how to price it. 😉

United – 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws on roundtrips

As if I haven’t talked about United stopovers enough…

Unfortunately it’s not technically legal to get an open-jaw on a stopover. Meaning the open-jaw has to be added to the destination or the return destination. This isn’t a written rule but it’s how it’s programmed.

So at best you could have a stopover and then an open-jaw so there are three destination airports (two which the airline gets you to and one you get to another way), and then return to a different airport than you started your journey from.

United Stopover

United Stopover

I already have a long post with pictures about some of the tricks you can do (with United’s old prices) but I thought I’d mention one here that exists with the current prices. A trip to Africa would normally be 80,000 miles in Economy, but by making it a stopover on the way to Japan the price is 70,000 miles. Save miles, see more.

United Stopover to See Africa for 70,000 Miles

United Stopover to See Africa for 70,000 Miles

Read more about United Stopover Rules with Pictures here.

Lufthansa – 2 stopovers and 2 open-jaws

While their pricing system and fuel surcharges can be astronomical there are great deals to be had, and obviously 2 stopovers and 2 open-jaws is generous. I might recommend a trip to South America given that you’ll be able to avoid fuel surcharges this way.

Also, I don’t think you can add an open-jaw to a stopover with Lufthansa, but not 100% sure, but have a strong feeling that it’s so.

Lufthansa Stopover

Lufthansa Stopover

Air Canada – 2 stopovers or 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw

Air Canada with 2 Stopovers

Air Canada with 2 Stopovers

Air Canada with Stopover and Open-jaw

Air Canada with Stopover and Open-jaw

Delta – 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw

Delta Stopover and Open-Jaw

Delta Stopover and Open-Jaw

ANA – 3 Stopovers on a roundtrip (they say 4, but one of those stops is the destination)

 

ANA 4 StopoversThe reason I consede and refer to every stop as a stopover instead of calling at least one of the stops a destination, is because the price is determined by the total distance flown and not based on the furthest distance or zones.

The reason the example is in South America is to avoid fuel surcharges. But other than some of the limitation of ANAs fuel surcharges, the award prices are very reasonable and 4 stopovers is very generous.

ANA is a transfer partner of SPG and AMEX.

British Airways

The British Airways “Avios” program is a bit unique in that they charge based on each segment flown instead of the total distance flown. Therefore you can add as many stops as you want, as you pay per segment flown.

In fact, I’ve written about using strategic stops to save miles. Read the extensive series on using Stopovers to Save British Airways Avios.

 

Conclusion

Each airline has it’s sweet spot. Where the stopovers align with airlines that don’t have fuel surcharges. A spot where more flying and savings actually are combined.

This post doesn’t deal with the fuel surcharges or the technical details of each airlines rules but the basic routing ideas. I tried to use actual decent examples but the concepts are limitless.

Just because I picked Europe, doesn’t mean you couldn’t do the same thing with Asia. And just because I picked a picture with Bangkok, doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same thing with Bali. It’s all concepts and this post is hopefully a concept teacher.

If you have any questions, please let me know. Would love to know if this was helpful too!

Thanks,
Drew

Related Posts:

18 Comments

  1. Haven’t seen one of these in a awhile, but it’s what keeps us coming. Thanks Drew!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jason.

      Reply
  2. for Luth, do you get one stopover with just oneway ? I have miles from two family member accounts that are enough for just oneway each. I will redeem a roundtrip using these two accounts but wonder how the stopover rules apply in this case.

    Reply
    • Has to be a roundtrip. So unfortunately I don’t think you’ll be able to take advantage of stopovers this way.

      Reply
  3. Both air canada diagrams look the same. Is this an error? What are the routing differences?

    Reply
    • Nick, on the first map (2 stopovers), it appears that BKK & HKG are connected by a flight. On the 2nd map, (1 stopover & 1 open jaw), they are not. It’s kind of hard to see. I hope that helps.

      Reply
    • Yea that’s right J.
      Unfortunately that didn’t show up too well but indeed the aim was to show a gap in the second pic between bkk and hkg.

      Reply
  4. On the US Airways one…probably good to point out that the award has to be a roundtrip (US Airways, even now that it’s merged wtih AA still doesn’t have one way awards for 1/2 of the roundtrip price) and so to get the stopover or open jaw, you need to book a roundtrip with them.

    It would have been awesome to be able to book one ways with stopovers with US Airways.

    Reply
    • Yea, I’m hoping good things happen with the merger. So far AA has got rid of stopovers all together! … Which is not a good first step.

      Reply
  5. Good post, bad timing on AA. The AA Explorer award is now dead and gateway stopovers appear to be as well, although some still work until June or so.

    Reply
    • This is unfortunate indeed!

      Reply
  6. Back in January I had a chance to book 2 business tickets with LH using my UA miles. The itinerary looked as follow:
    1) GDN-MUC on May 10,
    2) FRA-JFK (destination) on May 12, and finally
    3) JFK-FRA-GDN (return) on May 26.
    I was hoping it would be treated as a regular R/T which would cost me 100K miles per person, however, the agent was not able to do so and thus booked somehow 4 separate tickets! GDN-MUC for 20K miles and the remaining part of the trip FRA-JFK-FRA-GDN for 100K.
    Was I wrong in my thinking/calculating or was it UA’s agent who technically forced me to use more miles?!?!

    Reply
    • I think the issue is that you can’t open-jaw on a stopover now. So you could have had a stopover in MUC OR FRA but not split them.

      Reply
  7. For ANA can u backtrack and do DFW-SCL(Stopover)-LIM(Stopover)-DFW?

    Reply
  8. I’m not sure if this is new or not:
    ANA only allows two stops (destinations, stopovers, whatever), if you touch Europe.

    Reply
  9. @travelisfree
    does AA consider this a valid connection (stopover) please?
    MCO-MIA(20 hour connection time)-MAD
    thanks

    Reply
  10. How about on KrisFlyer and its partner airlines?

    Reply
  11. question since i also plan to travel quite a while in South America . By using my KF Miles in Avianca ; i read from star alliance KF Miles chart for south america – south america Round trip need 25,000 KF miles.

    1. Do you think it is possible for me to create itinerary like this using Avianca (5 segment round trip flight with stopover)

    Sao Paulo – Bogota (complimentary stop over) – Quito (additional stopover 1) – Lima (additional stopover 2) – Santiago (destination) – Bogota (no stop over , only plane stop ) – Sao Paulo

    2. if i book direct round trip Sao Paulo to Santiago using Avianca itself will stop at Bogota, so my route cant considered backtrack right ?

    3. I am interested if this is possible since it is only for 25,000 miles + 200 USD (2 additional stopover) + CMIIW no YQ for redeeming on Avianca ,right ?

    Thanks

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
Go to About Me to learn more.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards
SIGN UP: RSS

SIGN UP: NEWSLETTER