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The NEW United’s Stopover and Routing Rules Secrets… with Pictures

It’s finally here. This post has some of the most unique and useful tricks for tricking United’s pricing system and showcases all of United’s stopover rules.

However, the content has been dated and some of the prices have been off since United changed their award chart. But today I’ve redone the post with current prices and concepts!

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 2 open-jaws. We’ll see just how far we can push that!

Let’s begin with… Routes that are not allowed starting from North America:

Combining Europe and Oceania is not allowed… nor is combining Africa and Australia.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.54.02 PMΒ Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.52.28 PM

Combining Europe and Australia is not allowed… nor is combining Africa and Oceania.

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.52.48 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.53.27 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 11.05.58 PM

Combining the Middle East and Oceania is not allowed.

South America is the land of not allowed, as you can’t combine it with any of the following places:

SA no no

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, or 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. Β It just doesn’t.

You’ll see…

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 4.47.04 PM

As defined by this award chart.

After this post, hopefully you’ll come back to me with some tougher questions. Like about the definition of “open-jaw”. πŸ˜‰

Let us start slow. Legal routings are pretty much anything except what is shown above. Understand that this is starting fromΒ and endingΒ in North America. Hawaii has much stricter routing rules. It’s a different region, ya know. Sometimes for the better. πŸ˜‰

United allows a stopover and two open-jaws.

You used to be able add an open-jaw to a stopover or destination:

2013-10-01_22-22-31

But now you can add one of the open-jaws to change where you return home to or on your destination:

2013-10-01_22-27-18

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?

Using the example above, how do we know that Europe is the stopover and Asia is the destination and not the other way around? Couldn’t BKK be a stopover with an open jaw on the way home instead of the destination with an open jaw before returning home? How can you tell which it is?
Because it costs 80,000 miles (like a SE Asia ticket) instead of 60,000 miles (like a Europe ticket).

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 3.37.04 PM

United Award Chart in Oneway Prices

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!

2013-10-01_22-51-54

80,000 miles – SE Asia and Australia/New Zealand

US to Australia is 80,000 miles roundtrip…

Australia/New Zealand = 80,000 miles alone

Australia/New Zealand = 80,000 miles alone

Yet, US to Australia and Oceania is 70,000 miles! Save 10,000 miles by seeing Fiji or something.

Australia/New Zealand AND Oceania islanes = 70,000 miles

Australia/New Zealand AND Oceania islands = 70,000 miles

The US to the Middle East is 85,000 miles roundtrip…

US to the Middle East = 80,000

US to the Middle East = 85,000

Yet…

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 falls 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 Sep. 30, 2013 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).Β 

Sign up for our newsletter to find the password.

Related Posts:

402 Comments

  1. I read it, and it was fun to type in the secret password!! But I have no freaking clue what you are talking about in 80% of this post. Ha ha! Way too high level for me!! :) That’s ok though, I’m a beginner…I do know that there seems to be all kinds of tricks and secrets so I will keep plugging away. My next trip is Bangkok>Hong Kong>Japan>anywhere in the US. Maybe I can do something with the Asia part of the trip.

    Reply
    • Thanks for working with my high tech security to get to the read. :-p
      Well, this is certainly not the beginner friendly post. But if you need help in general, let me know.

      Reply
    • What about some of us who happened to sign up just a day after the last edition went out. No way to get the password? :)

      Reply
    • We made sure there were none of those people.

      Reply
    • I can’t seem to find the password in the auto-responder for the newsletter subscription. Could you help please?

      Reply
    • I also found this confusing. It’s in the second email. You have to confirm your email address in the 1st one to get the 2nd one!

      Reply
    • I’m look for a business class seat award, but When United opens up award seats, it sometime seems to open economy first and then business. What’s the strategy if your dates are fixed. Do you wait for biz to open up or snag the first available seat, biz or economy? thanks

      Reply
    • I’m confused. If it’s not a beginner friendly post, why did you put this link in the “Thanks for subscribing” email? Maybe because not everyone who just signed up is a beginner, I suppose!?

      Reply
    • Hi,
      Thanks for providing this information, very helpful. Do you anticipate any significant changes to UA stop overs/ routing and open jaw travel in the next year? I know there’s no definite way to know what the future holds but you have your ear to the ground with this info. I plan to do some globe trotting in early 2017. I believe I can book travel up to 11 months in advance, correct? Secondly, if I understand this right, I can book travel from the USA to Asia (say Cambodia or Vietnam) but connect first in Europe (Spain) . Can I travel overland from Spain to Istanbul then go to Asia as part of the first leg of my trave. The second leg would be Asia to USA. Would this count as one trip for ~65k FF UA miles? Many thanks

      Reply
    • Brand-new beginner here … and I’m loving this article! It’s definitely a lot to take in, but traveling is my favorite activity and I’m eager to learn :-)

      Reply
    • what do i do once I have the password written?

      Reply
    • something was wrong with my browser. Got it now. I do enjoy these posts. Keep them coming. Just completed the 90k RTW in Biz and looking for more.

      Reply
    • Hit enter I think.

      Reply
  2. I definitely read it. It’s one of those posts that one doesn’t absorb fully the first time, but bookmarks to refer back to whenever it’s time to make an interesting United mileage redemption. I need to build back my United miles in order to take advantage of it after a couple of large award redemptions lately. I’m guessing it would be hard to impossible to use US Airways miles for these kinds of things (or at least to gain the same strategic advantages with them).

    Reply
    • Actually, UA and US have some very similar stopover and routing rules. Of course, these region specific things and how it’s coded is unique to UA and USA relies on it’s Unique agents to enforce the routing rules. O_o

      Reply
  3. I always love to read your post. I read this first time and don’t get it. But I am sure that I will read it again and again until I get it.

    Thank you for always sharing

    Reply
    • Thanks Sam!

      I’m interested in hearing which parts are easy to follow and which parts make no sense, if you have the time. Perhaps I can think on those things and figure out how to explain them. Thanks again.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for compiling this. It’s definitely not something that can be quickly absorbed, but I’m sure I’ll be returning to it. Your puzzle looks crazy! :)

    Reply
    • :-p No one has taken a stab at the puzzle :-(
      But it’s hard to figure out which direction it’s going and all that. Glad to hear you’ll be returning. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
    • Hi Drew,
      I havent really spent a lot of time thinking this through, but it looks like instead of two separate bookingss end-on-end, it appears that the bookings are mixed together. Where there is an open jaw in booking one, you use the first leg of the second booking to span the open jaw of the first to get there, which results in an alternating use of the bookings which basically ties them together.

      For example

      Itenirary 1:
      SFO to HNL (stopover)
      HNL to SYD (destination)
      SYD – NRT (open jaw)
      NRT to FRA (destination)
      FRA – CDG (open jaw)
      CDG (via LHR) to ORD (destination)

      Itenirary 2:
      SYD to BKK (stopover)
      BKK to NRT (destination)
      NRT to FRA (open jaw)
      FRA to CDG (destination)

      Is this somewhere close?

      Matthew

      Reply
    • Hi Matthew – I’m a newbie here, and would like to know if you were able to go with your itineraries? One thing I noticed, in your Itinerary 1, you indicated SYD to NRT as open jaw, but prior to that flight, you had SYD as your destination, right? So does your SYD to NRT count as open jaw? I’m thinking it wouldn’t since SYD was your destination prior. I would love to hear your thoughts and experience.

      Itenirary 1:
      SFO to HNL (stopover)
      HNL to SYD (destination)
      SYD – NRT (open jaw)
      NRT to FRA (destination)
      FRA – CDG (open jaw)
      CDG (via LHR) to ORD (destination)

      jason

      Reply
  5. Read. Bled. But loved!
    What an elegant game you play!

    Reply
    • Thanks Rick. Appreciate it.

      Reply
  6. Definitely a great read, and a challenging one at that. Being relatively new to the churning/frequent flyer world, I’m trying to absorb as much as possible. This, and future related posts will be very valuable. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jon
      If you have any questions about this crazy world, let me know!
      Drew

      Reply
  7. Please keep post like this coming. There is enough fluff and credit card shelling on the other blogs. Over the course of a few weeks, this blog has gone from a site I didn’t know existed to the top of my daily reads.

    Reply
    • Wow, awesome.
      I don’t want to wear out my readers ya know with one topic, even when there are things I’m excited about. So I try to diversify. But it’s a topic and can’t help but write about as I enjoy figuring out these rules.
      How did you find the site?
      Thanks for the kind words,
      Drew

      Reply
    • I found your site via travelbloggerbuzz.com

      Reply
    • I’ll be darn. That’s four on one post!
      Glad you found your way here.

      Reply
  8. tl;dr

    πŸ˜‰

    Just kidding, I read the whole thing. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t blame you if you did.
      Next time I’ll include more pictures. πŸ˜€

      Reply
  9. This was incredible! It is really difficult to change perspective to regions instead of destinations but I got the overall hang of the system. The pictures really help :). Have my very first big redemption coming up next year to central asia and this will help maximize my points.
    Thanks for a great post.

    Reply
    • Yea, that change is key for United. Even having pictures with airport codes could take away from the ultimate point. Glad it helped though.
      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  10. Awesome! I think posts like these makes your site the best out there these days. Setting up “the game” for quasi-noobs like me….because it’s not about getting points, it’s about what you can do with them. NA/Europe (layover)- Africa (stopover)-SEA (dest)-N Asia (layover)-NA for 65C and $150 is completely due to your site…trying to plot a Pacific Island hopper w/miles starting in either Oceania or Hawaii for my next break…and of course one of these times I’ll have to “return” to the Caribbean from Europe…so many creative ideas!

    Reply
    • For a quasi-noob… you just booked a heck of a valuable ticket. And seem to be getting the advanced concepts. Off to quite a good start. You should plug it into Kayak and see what the cash price is. You’ve got to be getting at least 4 cents per miles.

      But exactly.
      Exactly. You can get into the sport of collecting miles, or the sport of using miles. I try to balance both, as both are needed. But definitely lean towards using miles. I know a lot of people who have more miles than they can use… and yet to don’t burn at all.

      Reply
    • Thank you! Routing if you are interested was:
      LAX-MUC (xmas market layover!)-IST-CPT (stop)
      JNB-PEK (layover)-BKK (dest)
      BKK-HND (layover)-SEA-LAX

      Peak season in SA too!

      The HND-SEA-LAX wasn’t my original choice to get back here, but I eventually realized there is really good upgrade potential. Something to keep in mind. My biggest problem is that I don’t qualify for any CC’s so I have to earn all miles the old fashioned way or with promos.

      Reply
    • I had to split up on kayak but it looked like tickets would = $9856 for 31,090 miles?

      Reply
    • For 31,090 miles flown?!
      Well, yea, that’s an expensive ticket. 15 cents per mile? But good long on the upgrade! That would be really nice. I’d be tipping the empty flights at check in. :-p I don’t know if that works, but I did hear of a guy that would give flight attendants chocolate and stuff and he’d get upgrades. πŸ˜€

      Reply
    • I’m kind of understanding about the layovers and all, but where do you get the information that tells you, if you add this layover you will get more for your points – I guess by adding a new place to see. And how long can you stay at these in between stops? I’m assuming that’s why it’s worth it to do. I’m guessing you earn miles while you travel or just use less to get to your final destination, but do you get to spend time in the layover place, perhaps sleep over a night or two and then continue on.

      Reply
  11. Read it and loved it, especially the brain teasers at the end. I’ll have to think about them! Can’t wait to play around with this.

    Reply
    • Great. Would love to hear how you do. Another hint: open-jaw – It’s wider than you think.

      Reply
  12. Read. These advanced posts are what separates you from everyone else

    Reply
    • Thanks Todd. I appreciate the kind words. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  13. Read, and appreciated :)

    Reply
    • As always Gaurav, it’s a pleasure. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  14. Read it. Most of it went over my head. But, I am so excited that you explained that US to Africa (stopover) to SE Asia would price 15,000 miles lower than just to Africa! This could come in very handy in the next few months. I even checked it out on United and it priced that way. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Great timing then! Glad you saw it.
      And ultimately, some of the words get in the way. Part of me wonders if I should have done only pictures.

      Anyways, at least with that route and the pricing discrepancies, it’s as simple as routing two regions together. Hopefully you’ll get that booked, just like Dizzy. It can be hard to get done online, but Dizzy did it over the phone. Good luck.
      Drew

      Reply
    • I called late on a Saturday night by the way, and the agent I think was bored/friendly. I mentioned I was a med student and doing it on break. I think I really got her on my side when she asked me to apply for CC and I said I got denied because income is too low…she said she did too (their own agents can’t get it?!?), anyway, at that point I knew I was home free. Be nice to your agents!

      Reply
  15. oooooo!! but more details needed at the end. don’t leave us hanging!

    Reply
    • It’s your time to shine. πŸ˜€
      I guess that means you stuck with the post pretty well then. Glad to hear it.

      Perhaps I’ll work on a part two sometime. This didn’t take that long yesterday… except for all the dang arrows. :-p

      Reply
  16. Drew, These posts are amazing and I say every single time that your blog is the most valuable one out there. No unethical methods, just pure information that would benefit anyone willing to learn. Keep it up!! I come here every day and I especially bookmark posts like these.

    Reply
    • Wow, thanks Jason.
      However, when you comeback tomorrow… I think you’ll still be seeing this post. πŸ˜€
      But really, those are kind words and I appreciate hearing it. Very encouraging.

      Reply
  17. Yeah, good stuff but overly complex for most of us.

    I would suggest you pick a “top 3″ set of routes, where the destinations are really popular (not Guam, please) and where the value of your hack (versus not doing it) is really evident.

    Reply
    • That’s a great suggestion. I love the feedback.

      A set of routes. You mean do a top three killer routes you can book? Or one theme giving three examples at a time.

      Remember, Guam isn’t Guam… it represents Oceania. But yea… still farflung for most.

      And maybe the fact that it’s a region thing is to broad or vague. Hmm have to think about it. But please, if you have any more thoughts on what should be elaborated on. What you don’t want elaborated. Where people would get lost… Whatever, I’m all ears.

      Reply
    • Okay, here’s how I think about it: when I travel, I don’t really try to mix a lot of regions in (say, Europe, Middle East, AND Asia). I like to focus in on something, get ‘er done, and then if I can get something nice that’s “on the way”, well, that’s gravy. The approach I see when reading this post is something like “maximize, maximize, maximize”, even if it’s not that practical for most of us. (Not all of us are travelling the world all the time, after all! :-)) — (I picked on Guam because (1) it’s not that easy to get to and (2) there is not much there. Maybe your hack with another “Oceania representative” would be more attractive)

      There are some common “bucket list” destinations for many of us, and it would be nice to know if the hack presented here can be used to make that trip better (without adding legs just for the sake of that)

      Example: If I want to go on a safari (Kenya, Tanzania, SA, Zambia—any of these), it makes perfect sense to first decompress before and after in some other place. So maybe Europe and then, for some spice, the Middle East. So what routes would be work on something like this?

      Australia is another typical bucket lister, and not just Sydney but intra Australia. Lots of great use for your hack here, I’ll bet.

      Bali (or neighboring place) can also be great for stops.

      Anyway, thanks for listening and keep it up. Your blog rocks!

      Reply
    • Very helpful reply bluecat.
      This and another reply has given some ideas. However, I don’t want to do the same blog post over again yet… But I can certainly think of better ways to display it now!

      Thanks again for commenting!
      Drew

      Reply
  18. One of the best posts ever! You are brilliant!

    Reply
    • Wow. Thanks for the extremely kind words.

      I must show my wife that someone would say such a thing. πŸ˜€ jk

      Reply
  19. Read and loved it.

    Reply
    • Awesome. Thanks Jessica for commenting. Glad to hear it.

      Reply
  20. #read Genius Drew! The detailed graphics really help explain the magic. Always great insights from your posts. You’ve given me some great inspiration for the next trip.

    Reply
    • Great to hear. Yea, during my last write up on the subject I kept remembering someone saying that pictures would help… Despite not listening last time, I thought, “I should just do a post of pictures.”

      At the very least, it will appeal to different types of learners.

      Anyways, glad to hear you’re getting inspired from it!
      Drew

      Reply
  21. Read it and now I need to read it again so I can understand it. I’ve got a bunch of miles from credit card apps and manufactured spending but your blog is showing me how to use them. Much props and keep it coming.

    Reply
    • Thanks Victor!
      If you don’t mind, let me know what are the parts that still need to be understand, parts maybe not as clear or not explained as well. Even if I can’t answer it right now, it could help me moving forward.
      Thanks again.

      Reply
  22. Read and impressed! I thought Oneworld had some hidden gems, but these (after about 4 more readings) appear more exciting.

    Reply
    • There are some really exciting redemptions if you have the time. :-p
      I especially I’m tempted to start from Hawaii for a trip.
      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  23. I read this and really enjoyed it, because I love stretching the value of a mile. The practicality of this is quite minimal. This is a great way to maximize your miles, especially if you have tons of time to burn. For a 1 week trip this seems like a moot point.

    Reply
    • I think earning the miles feels so easy and addictive and ultimately using points feels like giving up something. It’s how all frugal people feel when they spend money. They want it, just not have to pay for it. And yea, it is a little more work.
      Thanks for commenting Adam.

      Reply
  24. Read.
    Impressed! Your points maxing posts bring a smile to my face.
    :)

    Reply
    • That’s a good sign for you, and me, that it was coherent enough to understand.
      Well… either that or your laughing at me. :-p jk

      Reply
  25. I had a question little bit off topic. I constant theme that I have gotten from blogs is that open jaws can be only at the destination or the starting point. Is that true?

    Reply
    • Open-jaws can be applied to any stop, but they can not create a stop in itself. You can turn a stopover in Europe, lets say a stopover in Paris, into an open-jaw between Paris and London. Same with the stopover. You can turn a stopover in Bangkok into an open-jaw between Bangkok and Singapore. And you can also add it so that you do not return to your starting point but to somewhere else. As long as it’s a different region than the destination. Cats out of the bag.

      Reply
    • Still confused, maybe a this might be worthy enough to be the topic/sub section of a picture filled future post( some of us are visual learners :).

      Let me know if this will work. jfk-cdg(open jaw)/lhr-bkk(dest)-hnl(openjaw)

      Is there a possibility of adding another stopover in this or cdg/lhr is a stop over as well as an openjaw

      Reply
    • This is a good idea. Maybe I can even go back and do what is a stopover and what is an open-jaw with all kinds of pictures. I should have been using more pictures from the beginning!
      Thanks.

      Reply
  26. Holy Crap!! I need to read this stuff at least 5 times to digest it all!! But this is incredible. Tried the ORD-DXB-BKK-ORD. Can price out individually but gives the usual error when using multiple destination feature on United website.

    Also, I am trying to redeem 60K AA miles for Business class US-Peru RT next year with the free one-ways before and after in YVR & HNL respectively.
    I will be thankful to you if you can tell me if there is a better way to maximize the value of miles so I could go hunting for info. on the internet?
    I am open to using either AA or UA miles.

    BTW I read other blogs daily but this is the only blog I subscribe to. Can’t find this stuff anywhere else!

    Reply
    • So the error comes for one of two reasons. 1) It’s not a legal routing. or 2) There’s no availability.

      Well… it’s not the first, and then you pieced it out showing it’s not the second. So what’s going on?

      Turns out that United.com is lazy. It searches for a minute and then gives up. Then it says, that’s good enough, here are your results.

      Sometimes you compare the multi destination for a specific leg with a shot from a oneway search and go “wait a second, these results aren’t right. I’m missing stuff.”

      So sometimes it’s missing stuff and sometimes it doesn’t get around to finding results at all for a leg… but they are there.

      Solution is to change up the search or call. That’s it pretty much.

      AA miles is a good choice. I have a post on the best part of AA stopovers. Basically you have a decent idea, Hawaii is a good use. You can also make a stopover in Mexico or something on your way home. Unfortunately you won’t be able to squeeze a hawaiian stopover before returning home.
      http://travelisfree.com/2013/07/06/the-only-good-thing-about-american-airlines-stopover-rules/

      Thanks so much MadMac, I appreciate the kind words.
      Drew

      Reply
  27. You’re “DIFFERENT” compare to the rest of the blogger, and love reading all your post!

    I was booking an award for a friend, (LAX-BCN via Atlantic on Lufthansa, stopover, BCN-HKG, destination, HKG-LAX via Pacific on EVA airline), very simple route compare to yours. But all agent and supervisor that I’ve talked to not willing to book that routing as they claim it was a round the world ticket. Is there some kind of new policy that preventing crossing both Atlantic and Pacific ocean on round trip ticket?

    Reply
    • No new policy. If the route is as exactly as you described… those agents are goofballs. Did you try calling back?

      The truth is, the computer has all the routing rules built in. So if it’s not legal it won’t let it book. If it is, it will give the proper price. However, I’ve had agents “know” that it won’t work and so they won’t even go to the computer. They won’t even plug it in. Sometimes I say, “can you just try it and see how it prices?” or sometimes I hang up and call again.

      Thanks Jonathan, glad you are enjoying the blog. My mom, always said I was different… but I could never tell what she meant.

      Reply
    • no luck after calling about 20+ agent… long story short, they consider that as a round the world ticket because it cross both Atlantic and Pacific ocean. They’re willing to ticket only if my friend willing to fly back to US via Europe(Atlantic ocean), but that would add another 10+ hour which is not fine for everyone.

      Reply
    • Oh shoot. Yea… So there is this oddly inconsistent and restrictive rule that sometimes doesn’t let you go back over the pacific.
      Have you tried booking online? And can he open-jaw the ticket? Try this online: SFO-BCN-HKG/TPA-SFO
      For some reason then it will work! Just try it. If you can fill in with a few Avios, it will work for him.
      The other thing you can try doing, is call and change the ticket. You can change the routing and sometimes they are… less strict the second call. So say “oh can I change it to go home via TPA instead?” should be free, and I’m like not quite 50/50 on whether or not that will happen. If you see this comment, let me know and I’ll edit out some of it. But try an open-jaw on the destination, and if that doesn’t work, call and change. But maybe you didn’t book anyways. But try online like I said, or try the open-jaw. For some reason that works. Don’t know why I didn’t catch that you wanted direct when you said pacific. But some routes this does work nad some it doesn’t, and I only have theories as to why.
      But the open-jaw always works.

      Reply
  28. Wow. I’m a little overwhelmed. I need to read this another 10 times before I feel ready to book my next trip (taking my entire family of 7 to Australia next year to visit grandparents). Surely we can add a stop in some wonderful place for a few days and save ourselves some miles!

    Reply
    • If you need any clarification, let me know.
      It’s great to hear you’re reading this before booking a ticket. At the very least you can combine it with an Oceania island (love fiji) and save 10k (assuming there is availability).

      However, if you would rather spend 10k extra you could do Hawaii too. US-Hawaii on one ticket. Hawaii-SYD-NAN- Home.
      But obviously there are tons of options. Just pick where else you want to go I guess. :-p

      Reply
    • Is it possible to use US Airways miles the same way? I don’t have quite enough United miles to get us all there, but of course we would like to stopover in the same places.

      Reply
    • US has a different set up in a number of ways. 1 they only allow one open-jaw. But they price a little differently, but similar in many ways. They rely heavily on the agents to know the price and the legal routings, and the agents aren’t super good at either. So you may be able to get abnormally generous routings if only because the agents are ____.
      However, different programs, different rules. This post only applies to UA.

      Reply
  29. Drew,
    This was totally awesome.
    Please keep this stuff coming!

    Reply
    • Thank Rich! Will do.

      Reply
  30. Drew,

    This is a wonderful article and I see this becoming one of the famous blog real soon. Really liked your article as it gives many secrets that many would not know of and I learned many things. This is simply amazing…Keep up the good work…

    -BlackHill

    Reply
    • Thanks BlackHill! Very glad you could learn something from it!
      Drew

      Reply
  31. Great post! Please keep on posting united secrets! Will have to read this post at least once more. Just got the explorer card with 55K and time from end of this december till 31st march to travel before studies restart. Hope your hints n tricks get me some extra destinations to upgrade my LAX – HNL – MNL – BKK – MUC trip and ad SYD, DPS or other nice places. Thanks

    Reply
    • Thanks Simon.
      For sure, let me know what final route you book. Hope there’s some inspiration in it.

      Reply
  32. Drew,

    I read all the major travel/points blogs and you have some GREAT and unique content. This latest post is amazing. Can any of these concepts be applied to American Airlines?

    Reply
    • Thanks, I’m glad you’re digging the content!
      Unfortunately AA is much more restrictive in that you can only book stopovers in North America. This limits a lot, but at least it includes Mexico and Hawaii.

      Reply
  33. So, could I do NRT-AMM-RAK-WDH-NRT as a roundtrip itinerary?

    Reply
    • I’ll be honest and so I’m not familiar with routes starting in Japan. At least not off hand, but the route does look fine. However you can stop in AMM RAK and WDH. You’d have to pick two of the three.
      I imagine you could open-jaw it though. Like NRT-WDH-RAK, AMM-NRT. I’m not sure how you’d get from RAK to AMM as it’s not a OW route and Avios wouldn’t be great.

      Those are definitely airports off the beaten bath. But maybe that’s true for anything in Africa that isn’t CPT, JNB or NBO.

      Make sense though?
      Thanks for commenting,
      Drew

      Reply
    • How about NRT-CAI-WDH-NRT

      Reply
    • Sure, totally bookable route, as it’s a stopover and a destination.

      Reply
  34. These are very good posts, many thanks. Along the lines of bluecat’s comment, I think it would help all of us some, and those totally lost quite a bit, if you could:
    1. Color code a map of each region.
    2. List (or show on the color-coded map) Star Alliance destinations in each region.
    3. Redo the sample trips, but guide people through an iterative thinking process.

    For example:
    You live in JFK and want to go to JNB
    Option 1: The simple roundtrip: JFK>>JNB(destination)>>JFK = 80K

    Option 2: Add a stopover in JNB for as long as you want (i.e., get the same trip as Option 1), but if willing to go to BKK, can see that too and save 15K, because BKK’s region of South Asia is cheaper than JNB’s region of Central/Southern Africa:
    JFK>>JNB(stopover)>>BKK(destination) >>JFK= 65K

    Option 3: Now add an open jaw at BKK, pay for a cheap flight to HKG, then resume the award trip at HKG>>JFK.
    JFK>>JNB(stopover)>>BKK(destination) >>HKG(open jaw)>>JFK= 65K

    Option 3a: Add another open jaw

    Option 4: If you’re up for it, consider a >JNB(stopover)>>BKK(destination) >>HKG(open jaw)>>NRT(layover)>>JFK= 65K

    Option 5: Instead use the stopover/open jaw to add a free one-way on either end of the trip?

    Generically:
    1. Start with the origin and destination (presuming most trips are not just random travel).
    2. Add a stopover, especially if it can reduce the award cost.
    3. Add up to two open jaws, especially if there are cheap airfares (or other transit like rail) between the points of the open jaw(s) and if it can reduce the award cost.
    4. Add layovers, especially for destinations where one can see a lot in < 24 hr.
    5. Consider if a free one-way on the end of the trip would be a better use of the stopover/open jaw.

    Reply
    • This is a gold mine of a comment. Thanks Jon. I will definitely revisit and study this comment before my next post like this. I think that would be a killer format to go about explaining this.

      Like I said, I hesitate to make such a big deal out of the destination, because then people are like “oh, heck I don’t want to go to JNB, I hear it’s dangerous” and ignore the concept. However I think your format combined with a an idea I had (based on your color coding suggestion), could explain in a much simpler way the concepts.

      So I’ll be dern. Thanks!

      Reply
    • So, according to Jon could I do:
      MNL-WDH(stopover)-AMM(dest)-TGD(open jaw)-IST(layover)-MNL?

      Reply
    • +1 !

      Perfect! This is how I think of travel too.

      On a related topic, I often try to arrange a stopover such that it helps me adjust to a new time zone. E.g., if flying to JNB, I would try to position myself in Europe for a few days first, so that I can get the time zone shift out of me, before heading to the ultimate destination, especially if it’s exotic.

      Reply
    • That’s too thoughtful! :-p I guess I don’t worry about jetlag as I’ll be there for so long. But dang, yea, that’s a reality on a 1 week vacation. How does Lucky ever adjust to life?

      Reply
    • +1

      as a noob, this really helps helps me understand the thought process

      Reply
  35. Great post Drew! This makes me think and it also completely frustrates me because I have no clue what united routing and rules are from HNL. We talked about it before that HNL errors out a lot. I also read your post about most powerful zones and tried figuring them out of HNL, but again too much errors and I don’t want to keep calling to figure out what would work.

    Also something to note is that your example of HNL-SYD-NRT is 70k in economy makes Australia the more powerful zone, but try booking it in business it comes out 65k and Japan is the more powerful zone. I have no clue why this works and this is where things start getting frustrating with the system giving me errors.

    Good job on the puzzle and keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Oh snap, maybe I mis-remembered the Japan being a more powerful zone. (But heck, I don’t need to fact check, people always do in the comments! :-p jk… sorta…).
      But more and more I’m thinking that Hawaii is just a very restrictive zone. They don’t like combining it with things. So that’s why it errors out. It’s not because of an error or limited availability, but because they’ve made many routes starting from Hawaii illegal.

      Now there is a slight chance that they just restrict the availability to United.com incase it’s too generous and because of people like us. So the only way to to test HNL-CDG-BKK-HNL would be to call. I surely plan on doing it but haven’t gotten around to it. But if a Europe/Asia route is possible over the phone. That would be glorious, as it’s not possible at all online, or so I’m convinced.

      As always, thanks for commenting Royce.

      Reply
    • haha no you didn’t mis-remember, not sure what is going on with the system, but economy does price out at 70k, and after trying several different dates and flights, half come out at 65k for business and the other half come out 125k for business. I guess it all depends on the routing and which partner airlines.

      Reply
    • Ohhh… So are you changing where you are routing through? I remember that one time I was playing around and the price starting from HNL would change. Just remembered. Except the crazy thing is that it changed within the region. Like if I routed to PER, it was one price and if I did SYD, it was another. Can’t remember which one is which now.

      Part of me wonders if it has to do with how it routes through though. I’ll have to check later. But good call… I just need to figure out the rules from HNL.

      Would to love to see if SE Asia can be mixed with Europe at the more generous price. :-p

      Reply
    • hahah that would be great to route through SE Asia and Europe. As far as routing I just check HNL-SYD//SYD-NRT//NRT-HNL in multi destination. some times it gives me routes laying over in ICN and other times it sends me through BKK or PEK. So HNL-ICN-SYD//SYD-AUK-NRT//NRT-HNL works. Any other routing through SE Asia or China comes out 125k. I tried looking for flights to PER without going through SE Asia and cant find them in the multi destination. So my conclusion is that it must have something to do with laying over in those countries. When you get the HNL routing rules and powerful zones LMK hehehe πŸ˜‰

      Reply
    • If you beat me to it though, LMK!

      Reply
  36. Definitely interesting reading, but will need multiple returns to understand. It feels like a college class, except I actually WANT to understand how this stuff works.

    Reply
    • Thanks Charles!
      I’m glad we feel the same way about our college courses. :-p

      Reply
  37. Great stuff! Keep up useful content like this. It will set you apart from the other bloggers.

    Reply
    • Thanks Ryan, will do!

      Reply
  38. I absolutely love your unique content, and this is by far one of the most informative posts that anyone has ever done on award flights. A lot of this I knew, but you had a couple of tricks that I had yet to explore. Thanks for posting such great info.

    Reply
    • also, please reveal how you did your puzzle bookings, at least in the newsletter. I’d really like to tackle it, but don’t have the time, yet I would love to learn from it.

      Thanks

      Reply
    • Eventually. So far one person figured it out.

      Reply
    • Well awesome. I often say, there are more tricks that we know about. It’s true for earning or burning.
      Thanks Ron

      Reply
  39. This has got to be the best miles-related post I’ve read in over a year. Great work!

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for the compliment!

      Reply
  40. This is really fantastic, unique content – thanks for posting! I’m thrilled that George’s (TravelBloggerBuzz) frequent mentions of your site finally got me to subscribe and start reading.

    It’s also wonderful to see really advanced material. I look forward to more.

    To stave off the inevitable “what is an open jaw” and the like, you might consider doing resource pages with links out to old articles on the basics from those that have done them well.

    Reply
    • Thanks Nik! I’m glad you did too.

      Great suggestion. Yea, I’ve obviously done less advanced posts on United stopovers… but the thing about a blog is that it’s laid out in such a way that you see the most recent and not he best content. I would love to find a balance. But a resources page is a good idea in general. Or even a beginners page.

      Thanks Again Nik and hope you stick around. πŸ˜‰
      Drew

      Reply
  41. Read it. Found your blog recently cuz it always comes up on TBB (Travel is Free((is not))) and makes me laugh each time.

    Knew much of this prior, mostly from FT. But I agree this goes a bit beyond. I get the zone concept, but have not really gone through testing which combos reduce your totals, and so your examples I found useful.

    As for your trips, I’d guess #1 was ORD to BKK via HNL & SYD, then a return BKK to ORD via Europe. #2 was more interesting, as I’d say you added a MEX start and SJU stop onto another similar routing, so I’m going to test out a few trips from those zones.

    Reply
    • That’s two from TBB in this posts comments. I guess paying him to call my content good paid off. πŸ˜€ JK (or course)

      Yea, FT had great info when the routing rules were more clearly defined due to the parallel to revenue tickets. People clearly have figured out great routes and many stayed the same. This just gave me the chance to contribute a little by figuring out some of the new rules. And there are still rules I can’t figure out. Like why sometimes a certain number of layovers works, forced or unforced. But then other times you force one more layover and it won’t work – phone or online.

      So there is still plenty to figure out. I just hope to get all those people together on my site. :-p

      Anyways, I’m glad you found the site too. And I welcome all stabs at the puzzle of course.
      Drew

      Reply
  42. Andrew should be happy. You managed to make gcmap images look almost as good as his shots. George, on the other hand, is likely to see right through this. What is left now besides link pimping? πŸ˜‰ Seriously, epic post, thanks! I’ll solve your puzzles when I get home tonight.

    Reply
  43. in your example of going ORD-LHR, ADD-BKK, BKK-ORD, how did you get that to work on united’s site? My understanding is it won’t allow you to do an around the world trip. I have tried your exact routing and keep getting an error as well as other city combinations.

    Reply
    • Great catch Ron. Thanks.
      It’s actually just a picture typo, so to speak. It’s suppose to be ORD-LHR-ADD, BKK-ORD. So I put the break in the wrong place.

      But this update version is bookable. So the round the world stuff isn’t true. You can cross both oceans and touch three continents. You just can’t create two destinations. It’s quite hard to explain but I updated with the example I just mentioned and later explained why the example I had doesn’t work. Essentially, you can’t have two destinations, and since it prices in one-ways, LHR would be a destination. You’d open-jaw to ADD which is also a stopover and continue on to SE Asia which is another destination. Confusing, but that’s why it won’t work.

      Reply
    • That makes sense, and i got the updated version to work for 72.5K which looks right and is still a deal to see Europe, Africa and Asia.

      On another example, you have JFK-JNB-BKK-JFK and I found the availability for each of the 3 one-ways, but when booking it together, I get that stupid united error. I even tried doing it as 2 one way tickets, even though I know that wouldn’t price correctly because you can’t do a stopover on a one-way, but it still gives the error and won’t even show a higher price. Is this a ticket you can get to work on the web or would you have to call it in? If you have to call to book a ticket because the web can’t compute it, how do you know for sure they will ticket it? Are you just relying on your understanding of the routing rules? It would be nice if the stupid site would just compute it properly.

      Reply
    • So this is certainly an issue with United. And the reason is that United’s search engine only works for a minute and then quits. It just gets tired and stops and gives you what results it has.
      So United’s error is one of two things: 1) it’s an illegal route (in this case that’s not the issue). Or 2) there’s no availability. The thing is, unless you check the oneways, you have no way of knowing if there is actually no availability, or if the computer is just slow and didn’t get around to it.

      So often, changing the dates can fix it. Changing the location. Doing IAD instead of JFK. Or… you just have to call.

      So Dizzy just booked that exact route almost. I think an added layover in NRT too but did the booking over the phone, and it sounded kind of comical as both Dizzy and the agents were pleasantly surprised.
      But it’s not issue of booking, the part this is odd is not that it books a ticket… it’s the price is so low. But that’s just how United programers decided to make it price. Buy them a dinner if you meet one. But I shouldn’t be an issue at all.

      Reply
    • thanks for the confirmation.

      Reply
  44. Great post, very informative! I’ve been fiddling around with sweet spots on the US Airways program, but I think you’ve gone way past what I’ve done. Lee-spect.

    Reply
    • Thanks, I’d love to hear what you have with USA!

      Reply
  45. Excellent post! Thank you so much.
    A quick Q: I guess N Asia has similar power as SE Asia when doing s/o in other regions?

    Reply
    • Thanks you. Yes, so I lump them together in other posts because they price the same generally. N Asia/SE Asia/Japan. However, that is based on starting from the US.

      Reply
    • Thanks! I found that when putting Australia and N Asia into one ticket, Australia was always the more powerful region which priced out 80k for trip starts N America. True, you can enjoy two places in different regions wl same price when only do Australia. Do you have any tricks for Australia and N Asia like the ones for Middle East/South Africa and N Asia?

      Reply
    • I mean, there is only one price for combining two zones. There is nothing that can be done to change the price of a region. But you can start from a different region. Like Hawaii. Maybe you’ll save enough miles that starting in Hawaii is worth it.

      Reply
  46. Eventhough I do not understand half of this but it shows the possibilities that I never know before. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks Marie, glad you still read it. :-)

      Reply
  47. Another one here that came from TBB.
    Really enjoy your detailed and informative style.

    Hope you keep up the great work! I’ll be reading more when time allows.

    Reply
    • Great, hope to hear more from you.
      Drew

      Reply
  48. Read! Thanks for the post. Looking forward to making some more complex redemptions in the upcoming months and will definitely be returning to this post when the time comes πŸ˜€

    Reply
    • Awesome. Just don’t forget the password. πŸ˜€
      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  49. Im subscribed but never received the email newsletter =(.

    Reply
    • Hmm… I checked and it looks like you shoulda got it but I know a lot of people have had problems with spam. I’m thinking emails from “travel is free” looks like spam to a computer. But I’ll send you an email right now!

      Reply
    • Could you pls send me an email as well? I don’t seem to find the newsletter after subscription. No luck with spam folder either.. many thanks.

      Reply
    • Same here, thanks.

      Reply
    • I also subscribed but did not receive the password! Can you please address North America to Hawaii? I’m having a terrible time finding anything cheaper than standard awards!!!

      Reply
    • Same here about not receiving the password. Thanks, your posts are great!

      Reply
    • Like the others, it seems that the auto response was just delayed. Got it, thanks!

      Reply
  50. Love the password and love the quiz.

    Clicked from Travel Blogger Buzz.

    Reply
    • Great, hope you can take a stab at the quiz. :-)

      Reply
  51. Keep it coming!

    Reply
    • Certainly. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  52. Hi, do you guys have a contact page? I was looking for an email, but couldn’t find one. Thanks!

    Reply
    • We don’t. I sent an email to you. But we like for people to ask travel related questions in the comments. Both because we get a lot of emails and because people ask similar questions and can benefit from the answer. Even if they are too shy to ask, they might have the same question. And we often already have posts on many of the questions.

      Reply
  53. Hi! I read this and it is amazing. Please keep writing the good stuff.

    Quick question: I’m actually looking to book to India right now and tried adding Guam but it did not seem to matter.

    I have
    1) IAD-DEL 5/7/14, stopover in DEL
    2) DEL-GUM 5/22/14, destination GUM
    3) GUM-IAD 5/29/14, return home to IAD

    And this books at 80k and $161.33 in taxes on United’s site. Shouldn’t it be 70k with the addition of Oceania?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I am seeing the same thing travelling from newark to delhi via guam (80K miles). What gives ?

      Reply
    • Jon, after your comment I tried to price it out and couldn’t. Don’t know where I got that info, I’ve never booked at that price… So I’m going to chalk this one up as an error on my part. Which means, Central Asia is king of all zones.

      Sorry about that, but seriously thanks for letting me know! If I figure out why I thought that, I’ll update…
      Drew

      Reply
  54. Great post! I don’t understand most of the rules after the first read, but have recorded the URL and password for future reference when I need it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks. Yea, playing around with it helps some of it click. But the rules aren’t as important as being able to book the ticket you want. And I hope it gets you closer to that. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  55. I just subscribed and did not get a newsletter. Is there any other way I can get access to the content?

    Reply
    • Thanks for subscribing marck,
      The newsletter is a letter I write and email out twice a month. It’s not a database. So when you sign up you don’t get the emails right away, but as I send them.
      Drew

      Reply
    • I also subscribed the newsletter. Could you send it to me as well?

      Reply
  56. Read, only great content consistently on any blog. Not sure when you started newsletters but is there anyway to get far in the past ones? The content is stupid good and I just wish I had more of them.

    Reply
    • I knew I was stupid, but it’s good to hear the content is stupid good. πŸ˜‰
      Unforunately we don’t have a way for members to read old newsletters yet. But a lot of people are asking for it so we will find a way… when we have time. :-p

      Reply
  57. oops read through all comments now. well keep the good stuff coming anyways

    Reply
  58. Hi from a UVA law grad, Drew! I was surprised to see a 22903 address. Enjoyed the post and your content.

    Reply
    • Awesome! I’m guessing you aren’t in Cville any more? I would say let me know if you visit cville… but I’m not there either.

      Reply
    • No, after law school, I went to Dallas which is where I practice law now.

      Reply
    • Great. Parents live in Houston now. But I know in the Texas world that’s super far away.

      Reply
  59. read it too. great content. i’m glad i subscribed :)

    Reply
    • Thanks Brian, Hope it doesn’t disappoint.

      Reply
  60. I read it, then reread it, and if I can figure out how to print it I will to keep studying. I want to find the hidden tricks that you hint, hint, wink, wink about.

    Reply
  61. Just subscribed to the newsletter and then had to come check out the secret content. Looks to be very helpful, but will definitely require some additional reads. I now have this page bookmarked. Thanks!

    Reply
  62. I subscribed to the newsletter last week and even with the secret password I have not been able to read the rest…. Please help! (LOVE the SITE) keep up the great work,

    Reply
  63. I just subscribed to the newsletter and do not have the password to enter. I would appreciate if you could send it to me.
    Great site!!

    Reply
    • Sorry, got it now. great post

      Reply
  64. If I understand this (which I probably don’t), the following should work since Tokyo is in more powerful zone? If not, is there any way to piece these three one way segments as a single award?

    NRT-SFO-SAN (stop) SAN-SFO-FRA-BIO (stop) BIO-FRA-SFO-SAN (open jaw)

    Reply
    • So it’s a good idea and all but it’s not a legal routing. What you’re trying to do really is Japan to Europe via US… and as far as I know it’s not a legal routing. It would only be available as a oneway nrt-sfo and then a roundtrip from US to Europe, but those are separate tickets.

      The idea is that Japan is a more powerful zone that Europe when leaving from the US. This means that if you do US to Japan via Europe it will just be a Europe ticket. And going home the same. This would be legal if it were Japan to US via Europe. So NRT – FRA – SFO, SFO – LHR or SFO – NRT. So because Japan and US is a more powerful combo, Europe needs to be a stopover not US. Hope that makes sense…

      Reply
  65. So would this be 62.5K miles?
    DFW-FRA-JNB (stopover)
    JNB-IST-BKK (Destination)
    (Open Jaw) DPS-TPE-LAX-DFW

    Reply
    • Should work, although there MAY be a new rule in place that restricts the number of connections allowed each way. 3 connections. In which case you’d better find a direct JNB-BKK. If that makes sense… Hopefully it will price out to 65k tho.

      Reply
  66. Finish reading it once. Will def. need to re-read again. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading it Cindy!
      Drew

      Reply
  67. Open jaws just don’t seem that valuable to me… not sure when I’d really use them. Thoughts? Thanks for the great post.

    Reply
    • Well, it depends on your style I guess. I agree that it’s like, “wait, I get to pay for more flights?” But the truth is I know a lot of people go to Europe and have to do a circle because they fly into London and then out a couple weeks later. This way you can fly into london and out of Paris or further. Plus, if you have Avios to fill the gap… it’s like a second stopover at the price of 4,500 Avios or whatever. That’s my opinion.

      Reply
  68. I read this, and a lot (most) of it made my head spin. I can sense the sheer power that this level of understanding of the awards chart and routing rules unleashes, but for now that level of mastery eludes me. I’m definitely bookmarking this and it’ll be in my reading this when I want to try to brush up, and hopefully in my arsenal someday when I graduate up to this level of award construction. In the meantime, do you ever do award bookings for others as a service?

    Reply
    • Scott, I hope it becomes more useful over time or I do a better job explaining it!
      At this time I do not have an award booking service. Simply don’t have the time, but have thought about partnering with someone.

      Reply
  69. REALLY DISAPPOINTED that I have not been reading your posts. Started in the mileage game -12- months ago and signed up for all the well known bloggers. I have been getting 8-9 per day and overlooked yours. BIG mistake! I learned more reading your today than all the others combined. How do I get back issues and passwords?? Trying to book 5-18-14 through 5-31-14 EWR-MXP-NAP-EWR-HNL or same starting out from IAH. Home base is actually MSY. –

    Reply
  70. 1. What does it mean by “powerful zone”?
    “Africa is a more powerful zone than Southeast Asia. So a for that half, combining Africa and Europe, Africa is the destination. But then we open-jaw and split the destinations. – See more at: http://travelisfree.com/2013/10/02/uniteds-stopover-and-routing-rules/#sthash.2LKzrkHQ.dpuf

    2. “Hawaii to Japan and Australia = 70,000 miles. So, Australia is the more powerful zone. – See more at: http://travelisfree.com/2013/10/02/uniteds-stopover-and-routing-rules/#sthash.2LKzrkHQ.dpuf

    HNL to NRT – 32,500
    NRT to SYD -25,000
    how can it add up to 70,000??????

    thx!

    Reply
    • Hey ANA,
      Here is a post on my most powerful zones concept. http://travelisfree.com/2013/06/10/secrets-of-award-pricing-engines/
      If it still doesn’t explain it well, let me know. I’m trying to find better ways to explain what’s in my head. It will make me a better writer to know what isn’t clear and is.

      For two, HNL to SYD roundtrip is 70,000 miles. You are allowed one stopover and can make it in Japan for no extra miles.

      Reply
    • Thank you!
      I planned a trip already after reading your blog.
      LAX-NRT-SIN-CGK-HKG-JNB -(NBO)-JNB-MSP-LAX
      Outbound – LAX-NRT(layover)-SIN(layover)-CGK
      Openjaw- HKG-JNB-NBO
      (I am actually planning to go to JNB. But wanted to cheat the system a bit. I am planning to miss the flight going to NBO. Do you think it will still count as an open jaw?)
      Openjaw – JNB-MSP
      Stayover/Inbound – MSP-LAX

      What do you think?

      Reply
  71. Blogging gold. This is genius.

    Reply
    • πŸ˜€ Thanks NcSam!

      Reply
  72. As I’m sure you know, Wandering Aramean has been commenting on an apparent, unannounced change in United routing rules that seem to limit a person to four segments per direction on an award redemption. This would be a major barrier to some of the things I like to do, and in fact would make some awards very hard to do at all, or much more difficult, as I’m not in a hub city. I very much respect WA’s knowledge of routing issues, but perhaps you’re doing your own research and have ideas on whether this is definitely a firm rule; what ways there may be to get around it; and what key tricks may be unaffected.

    Credit card signups are very important to my mileage strategies, so I don’t really mind other bloggers promoting those, but I do love all the original content you write for those willing to think about the possibilities on the redemption side.

    Reply
    • I have been following this but haven’t had time to test it myself. It’s interesting on a number of levels but I will play around.

      It is looking to be a rule. In the last few weeks right before his post, so many commenters were saying that their routes weren’t working that should have by a simple region rule system.

      But personally, I went back and looked at some of my crazier routes of the past… and they were within the rule. Or most of them. The big issue I see is not that I won’t be able to create 3 layovers (I normally don’t want that many), it’s that I won’t be able to get to the places I want as easily. For example the pacific hopper I did, if I took about melbourne as a few hour layover, it would be legal under current rules. But the thing is, that ticket may not have had availability without MEL in the middle. It’s the fact that useless layovers are unavoidable.

      This rule in combination with the pimping of their points, thus leading to less availability, is not great news.

      Reply
  73. I agree with the first poster. It was fun to enter the password and view the whole post but I have no clue 80% of the time what is going on! Still, thanks for taking the time to post such details!!

    Any tips if I want to travel from Baltimore to Dominican Republic and add a one-way at the end to Europe for travels a few months later?

    Reply
    • Thanks for the Ngoc. I’m sorry about how somethings were explained really poorly. As a writer I should be able to find clear words to explain concepts I know well. I will do better in the future at this.

      As far as tips for DR. Yea, if you want to go to Europe, then that is certainly an option. You can also do a “Caribbean Hopper” and see two islands. But there’s no wrong way as long as you’re seeing two places you love.

      Reply
  74. Love this. I am planning an awesome united trip coming up in January and this post has given me the most information to get that done. I’m starting in Seattle, destination is Rangoon and I wanna hit as many places I can in between. Thanks for blogging!!

    Reply
    • Awesome. Would LOVE to do Myanmar next year. Maybe we’ll run into each other.

      Reply
  75. Awesome content! It’s been a while since I had to focus that much. Thank you for taking the time to share!

    Reply
    • You apparently soaked it up or already knew a lot of it! πŸ˜€
      Thanks for taking the time to comment Luis.
      Drew

      Reply
  76. So I’m thinking the first puzzle is made of two bookings: ORD-HNL open jaw NRT-LHR(stop)-ORD and another booking of HNL-SYD(stop)-BKK(dest)-NRT. all for 92.5K. I ignored the SEA stop but am curious what that trick is about.

    Reply
  77. GREAT information — Thanks so much!

    I’m toying with an itinerary, and keep getting the error message from the website. It could just be that I’m overwhelming the engine.

    Looking to book sfo-tpe-dps(stop)-bkk-add-sez(dest.)-add-fra (open jaw), cdg-sfo.

    Availability is confirmed by searching each segment.

    Any idea if this *should* be bookable?

    Is it a problem with the circle route? UA is more than happy to route me sfo-dps-sez-sfo via europe both ways (and prices correctly πŸ˜€ ); the circle route is actually shorter.

    But even when routing via europe, if I try to building in the open jaw in europe, that triggers an error.

    1) must i give up on the circle route, and go through europe each way?

    2) is the open jaw in europe permitted? I know it’s an additional region, but if i’m being routed through there anyway, is it fair game?

    3) any idea how the system determines between DPS and SEZ which is the stopover and which is the destination? For the apparent “4-connection” rule, it would seem that SEZ would need to be the destination in order to have only four connections on either side. Perhaps this is further complicated by trying a circle routing — at what point do I change “directions”?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one! Thanks!

    Reply
    • I have a bad habit of not explaining the open-jaw thing well. So let me just add that an open-jaw can be added to a stop, but not create a stop. A stopover is a second stop in a ticket. Otherwise, it is bookable. However, there are rumors that

      The rumor is that United now limits 3 connections/4 segments.
      So yea, it’s determined to and from the “destination”. Which is essentially determined by the price.
      So here you’re looking at DPS being your “destination”. Why? because it priced out as 65k. Hope that makes sense… although it’s not logical, it’s how it prices and determines things.

      Reply
  78. Thanks for this amazing post.
    Is it possible to fly from HNL to South Asia via Europe ?
    Cheers from Switzerland

    Reply
    • That is actually something I would like to find out. So I don’t know, but online surely won’t let you… which is a bad sign.

      Reply
  79. Amazing website. Could not find the password to access rest of the content. Could you help?

    Reply
  80. I have ran this by others and they couldn’t come up with a better way, but would love to hear your thoughts. I am planning a trip for soon. I live in BOI and am wanting to fly LH F again. My plan is to fly into FRA (looking like through ORD based on loads) with a stopover in MUC, destination/open jaw DRS. I was going to use Avios to fly between TXL and ARN. I would then pick up with the UA miles again and go ARN-FRA-DEN(or ORD)-BOI.

    Is there any way I can get between ARN and DRS on the same itinerary through UA? If I could, that would be best as we would have J seats. It isn’t a huge deal though because between ARN and DRS is just 4500 Avios one way and a quick 90 min flight.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • There is a way but it would involve a change fee with United. Do you have status? or is it worth the massive change fee to you?

      Reply
  81. By experimenting I was able to book a return Toronto to Manila flight with a stop over in Zurich last June 2013. So me and my 2 sons had a 1 week stop over in Europe for 65000 united miles each. This December I was able to book a Toronto-Prague-Manila-Singapore(open jaw)-Toronto flight for 65000 miles. At least I get to go to Europe for free before going to my intended destination Manila.

    Reply
    • Awesome. Glad you get to do that with your sons. Enjoy!

      Reply
  82. Read this & said to my husband “Let’s quit our jobs & start traveling for free!”…I work for an airline (Not UA) & love all things travel. Looking forward to reading more of your tips.

    Reply
    • lol, I’d give you the most support I can. :-p
      As Carrie and I say, “it ain’t bad!”

      Reply
  83. Another question for you. This is my itinerary so far (successfully reserved)

    LAX – CGK 1/23 (2 short layovers, no airport change)
    HKG – JNB 1/31 (direct)
    JNB – LAX 2/4 (1 short layover in LHR)

    So that’ll be one open jaw and one stop over so far.
    I wanted to add Europe (instead of going straight from JNB – LAX ).

    LAX – CGK 1/23 (2 short layovers, no airport change)
    HKG – JNB 1/31 (direct)
    JNB – LHR 2/4 (direct, I checked availability on united.com)
    MAD – LAX 2/9 (1 short layover)

    But it’s not allowing me to, I tried calling a few times, none succeeded. Some weren’t able to explain why, another explain because United only allows 1 stop over and 1 open jaw. OR 2 open jaws?

    Any thoughts? Should I try different reps? Or different destinations?

    Thank you in advanced!

    Reply
    • I just called 4 more times, and all of them said that it’s not allowed because United only allows 1 open jaw and 1 stop over.. or 2 open jaws.

      Could it be because when departing from SE Asia, Africa and North America just doesn’t gel together? Or did United just change their rules (but one of the rep said it’s been this way since a while).

      Reply
    • If you are using United miles you get two open-jaws and one stopover – as quoted here: http://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/mileageplus/awards/travel/starairawards.aspx

      I think the problem here is that you want to add a second stopover. This is something I haven’t explained well, but an open-jaw can be added to a stop but it can not create a stop.

      So SE Asia is your destination, and you added an open-jaw to it.. On the way home, you’re adding a stopover in JNB. You can’t then add one to Europe. Make sense?

      I think you have a pretty good ticket. It’s a lot of flying for very few miles. Too much flying! I know, we’re doing the LHR to JNB back to the US soon.

      Reply
    • This trip wouldn’t be possible without your article Drew. Thank you!!

      We ended up trying to do
      LAX-CGK (5 hours layover in Japan, changed airport)
      HKG-JNB (direct)
      CPT-LAX (7 hours layover in Istanbul or Europe)

      And that wasn’t working either. It will probably work if we were able to find direct flight from CPT-LAX? Oh well, we’re really happy with what we have. Thank you again!!

      This is the final itinerary:

      LAX-CGK//HKG-JNB//JNB-LAX. And we just booked a separate round trip ticket with Orange to CPT for $150.

      Reply
    • Cindy, thanks so much for coming back and commenting on it. I bet you’re right. And I bet they can change it for you now but you’d have to pay a $200 change fee. So you probably did the right thing.
      But I bet you’re right on the direct from CPT but yea, oh well.
      We’ll be in J’burg soon. There’s a good safari near by. I’m told that Kruger is far but the big reason not to go is the risk of Malaria in the area is higher.
      Anyways, I can let you know how it goes, but congrats on the ticket. That’s pretty darn huge for the miles. A lot of flying though! :-/

      Reply
  84. Good timing on this post. With the just announced UA devaluation, this thread is very important!!

    Reply
    • Bummer though. But still, I guess I should be giving away even more of this kind of info in light of the pre-Feb burnings.

      Reply
  85. Is this a valid route?

    Sfo-icn (destination)
    Nrt(open jaw)-fra (stopover)
    Fra-sfo.

    P.S. Subscribed to the newsletter. Can you send me the password?

    Reply
    • For sure is a legal route. Although now there is a new rule that may limit the number of connections to the destination to 3. So 3 connections/4 segments each way.
      Thanks,
      Drew

      Reply
  86. Hi – just signed up for the newsletter today and am interested to see what lies behind the passworded content. Would it be possible to send me that newsletter? Thanks

    Reply
  87. Hi Drew,
    How’s it going. Its that time of the year for us to do another holiday vacation to Asia. I am wonder can you help me out with the best booking. I can only get 3 destination from United.com booking, but need 5. Here are the facts, SFO->NRT (12/16) bs class, FUK->ICN (12/23) ec class, ICN->TPE (12/27) ec class, TPE-HKG (1/3/04) ec class, HKG->SFO (01/17/04) anything. I cannot get the ladder 2 to show up even though there are available flights those day. Does United.com have a max destination of 3? I am planning to stay at Intercontinental Hong Kong as you mention because its the best.

    Reply
    • United only allows two destinations so you’ll definitely need to cut down the stops. You could perhaps use an open-jaw and fill some of the smaller flights in, like TPE – HKG with Avios.
      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  88. so I miss the boat on this one, how can I get the password? thanks

    Reply
  89. Hi Drew: I’d like to take advantage of the old rates in seeing Australia(Sydney and Ayers rock at least) and New Zealand from Phl probably in biz. I’d like to add as many countries to the trip on the one ticket as possible. What itinerary would you recommend? I’m thinking maybe January but really almost anytime would be fine. Thanks for work.

    Reply
    • I tried emailing but the email bounced. Anyways, where else do you want to go?

      Reply
  90. Is this routing valid:

    SFO-NRT-ICN-BKK (destination)

    BKK-CDG (stopover)

    CDG-BKK-NRT-SFO

    Will it be 160k in First?

    Reply
  91. Hi Drew: I had typo with the email. It’s fixed now. I was thinking of a pacific hopper type of trip. I’d like to see Sydney and New zealand for sure from Phila. before the devaluations start. I’d like to squeeze in as many countries as I could over a week or two also. I admit I’m not a beach person but I guess that’s what you get in the Pacific. lol
    Thanks

    Reply
  92. Do these puzzles still work after the routing rule changes?

    Reply
    • Yea, still works the same. The price may be a little different after Feb 1 deval.

      Reply
  93. Signed up for the newsletter but I guess I missed the boat…Will you still give out the password?…I’m planning a trip for my family of 4 adults and 1 baby next year on United and hopefully it’ll be memorable! Thanks again for this site.

    Reply
  94. drew I just tried to book a one-way from bkk to lax layover for 10 days and then end in fort Lauderdale -it kept coming up error call united
    I thought I was able to do 1 stopover lax on may way to fort Lauderdale ?

    Reply
    • Sorry cj, in that I failed to give proper info on that. United only allows stopover on roundtrip tickets.

      Reply
  95. Great post Drew. I like your out-of-the-box thinking and willingness to share with us…I signed up for the newsletter and I’m looking forward to it and unlocking this page.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jimmy. Soon as you confirm from your email address you’ll see. (if not let me know). Hope you enjoy it.

      Reply
  96. I am really stuck. I have been trying to book:
    Charlottesville, VA (CHO) > Phnom Phen (PNH)/
    Kathmandu (KTM) > Barcelona (BCN)/
    Frankfurt (FRA) > LAX all day.
    I have talked to three different agents today. One said this wasn’t legal because it was a circle trip. Two said that they no longer allow two open jaws (only one) but couldn’t tell me when that rule was changed. One said it’s illegal because “it’s just three one ways”. What am I doing wrong here? Are two open jaws still allowed?

    Reply
    • Hmm… Well, you say LAX all day but you’re returning to Cville yes?
      Second question. Are you forcing the LAX layover. Like are you manually feeding that to them, “then to LAX for 19 hours” or whatever? Either could be a problem.

      On United.com:
      When I put in CHO – PNH / KTM – FRA / FRA – CHO it works
      When i open-jaw FRA/BCN it doesn’t work

      When I put in CHO – PNH / KTM – FRA / FRA – LAX it also works

      So atleast United.com doesn’t like the open-jaw on the stopover but does on the return to LAX. But it could be that United is fickle or slow and can’t find availability, or it could be that it simply doesn’t like the open-jaw on the stopover.

      So if you can try with FRA as the stopover without an open-jaw. Or perhaps somewhere else.

      So it’s for sure bookable with a slight change. I’m not sure what’s up with United these days. I’m just taking in the data (like this) for now.

      And BTW, we’ll be in Cville in JAN. Maybe I’ll see ya there.
      Drew

      Reply
  97. Hi Drew,

    Your blog rocks and I just found about yours as I am planning a big family trip next year.
    Just wondering if there is any way you can send me the newsletter, which was the key to solve the secret about routing?

    Reply
  98. Great post. I am trying to piece together a trip to India and this will come in very handy…

    Reply
    • Thanks WB! Let me know if you have any questions.

      Reply
    • In fact I do! I guess Central Asia is the most powerful reason of all so I can’t do anything to lower my price below 120/160k (J/F), right?

      I can get EWR-FRA-BLR on lots of dates. Getting back is tougher because I originally wanted to fly CX but I can’t find any availability. So here is a non-miles-related question: where’s a fun place to use as my second open jaw that’s warm, and reasonably doable with little kids? We’ve been to HKG and BKK, don’t want to do “just a beach” (so no MLE, DPS, etc.).

      I guess ideally I would fly NYC-FRA-BLR (destination), xxx-NYC (open jaw and stopover on the return), NYC-LAX/SFO (“free oneway”).

      Figuring out the “xxx” is my current challenge…

      Reply
    • I actually have a slight revised plan; tell me what you think.

      I’d like to fly NYC-BLR (destination)-ATH(stop)-NYC(home/”stop”)-[months later]-SFO/LAX

      Here’s how I’d propose to route it:

      EWR-FRA-BLR in LH J [60k miles if I understand right]
      BLR-FRA-ATH in LH J [—]
      ATH-FRA-EWR in LH or UA J [for BLR all the way through EWR it should be another 60k?]
      JFK-SFO in UA J = “free oneway”

      So by my count the entire routing should cost 120k, right?

      Now what if just one leg is in F? Does that bump the whole trip to 160k? Or will it price one leg to BLR in J (60k) plus the return in F (80k) for a total of 140k?

      Reply
    • I think you have one too many stops here.
      ATH is your stopover? And BLR your destination? Or a stop in ATH do you mean layover?

      So as far as having flights in First, if you have one First, you pay for first all the way to or from the destination. So if you have one First segment on the way to BLR, you might as well fly the rest in First.

      Reply
    • Yup, I realize now that I had one too many stops. ATH is my stopover, which means I can’t get the “free oneway.”

      But even with just the ATH stop, UA’s website won’t price. I can price NYC-FRA-BLR(destination)-FRA(stop)-NYC(return home).

      But NYC-FRA-BLR(dest)-FRA-ATH(stop)-FRA-NYC(return home) errors out. Any ideas? I am under 8 segments total, and have only 4 on the return leg. Is it backtracking?

      Reply
    • It’s most likely and issue with United.com. like it only searches for a set amount of time. So it could have availability and be a valid route but it just times out. But it’s a valid route. You could call it in, or try changing the search a little I guess. Sometimes it works with different dates. Not helpful if your dates aren’t flexible but it can sometimes validate your route.

      Reply
    • Nope, I called in and the agent said the same thing–can’t fly into and out of FRA going the same direction (i.e. on the return leg of the trip). I guess I have to try to go BLR-FRA-ATH-MUC/DUS-EWR (but now with the devaluation I will get slammed with increase mileage cost even if the availability opens up close in)

      Reply
    • I can’t possibly understand how your above isn’t a legal route.
      Just to clarify, you tried: EWR-FRA-BLR-FRA-ATH-FRA-EWR is that right? I can’t imagine… But I’ll have to test something.

      Reply
    • Yup, that’s exactly right. I tried on the website and got an error. I tried calling and after a lot of hold time was told I can’t fly in and out of FRA on the same leg. I have not tried calling a different agent, but at this point I’d be hit with a change fee so I am debating whether it’s worth it (because for just a bit more than the change fee I can just buy a ticket FRA-ATH-FRA). Also, assuming they’re still offering it, I am going to do the Platinum challenge in early 2014, and if I do, I’d change the tickets then when I’d see no change fees.

      Maybe I should have tried a different agent…?

      Reply
  99. Hi mate, great, post, would be great to read the password protected part as well, can you forward me the password? I have 55000 united miles, a syd-icn and cts-hnd planned over christmas for me + 1. How do I transfer my mate’s miles easiest – he is not interested in collecting them – I think following that trip and if I can transfer his miles I will have 75000 miles. Any idea on what might happen with the reduction in australia to se asia miles? Will that allow me to fly syd-rangoon(stop)rangoon-colombo(stop)colombo-syd for 35000 miles? and then with current pricing colombo-belgrade(stop)belgrade-dubai(stop) and dubai to colombo for 40000 miles?

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, transferring miles between accounts is insanely expensive. It’s just not a frugal idea. You can book a flight in anyones name, but I know that’s not the same.

      So after Feb SYD to Colombo will be 70k roundtrip instead of 60k.
      On the flip side, after Feb, Colombo to Belgrade will be 50k roundtrip instead of 60k.

      Reply
  100. I found if i do colombo to dubai to belgrade to colombo, works out 40k, if i do sydney-kul-syd works out 60K, sydney-kl-colombo-sydney also works out 60K, so wondering whether after february sydney-kl-colombo-sydney will work out 35 k?

    Reply
    • Well, that’s indeed interesting. This means Central Asia to Europe and Middle East prices as a middle east ticket….

      Although I think SYD to Central Asia (via SE Asia) will price out as a Central Asia ticket and be 35,000 each way. Instead of the cheaper 17.5k, but no way to tell until Feb. But I’m pretty sure.

      Reply
  101. Hello – I just clicked on your blog for the first time today. Is there any way for me to read this article?

    Reply
    • Yea, after you confirm the newsletter, you’ll see the link and password. cheers πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  102. great post! I happened to have an award booking as we speak. So far, here’s my route (ticked and confirmed).

    outbound – N. Asia – Europe
    TSA-HND/HND-ZRH-Stopover-OSL-KEF (Dest.)

    Outbound – Europe – S. Asia
    KEF-OSL-CDG-TPE-HKG (open jaw return)

    Haven’t called UA to change it yet, but I wonder, from your expertise, can I change the outbound to:

    TSA-HND/NRT-ZRH—Stopover/Open Jaw–GVA-LIS-OSL-KEF

    thanks

    Reply
  103. Do you have a post on intra-europe routing rules? If so I can’t seem to find it. I’m trying to determine if IST-MAD-BCN-PRG-BUD-IST is at all allowed. I can get IST-MAD-BCN-PRG to come up on United.com but nothing past that event though there’s availability. I’d rather not book it as two separate one ways and stitch them together as that would cost double the miles. I’ve heard of nearly unlimited segments being allowed on layovers of less then 24 hours, but I’ll be in each of the listed cities for at least two days. Your help would be appreciated.

    Reply
  104. Hi Drew,
    How can I sign up for your newsletter? Will I be able to search backwards to find the title and “____” in the Sept 30, 3013 issue?
    Thanks for all your great information!
    Bruce

    Reply
    • Hi Drew, I found the link for your newsletter, but could not find the Sept 30, 2013 post you were referring to above?
      Thanks!

      Reply
  105. Enjoyed reading this.. Given all I understood, I tried a similar booking as yourself – EWR – ZUR; PAR-DEL; BLR-EWR.. 2 open jaws.. given the most powerful zone is Central Asia, it should price at 80k.. but the darn UA website is giving me an error.. dunno where I am doing it wrong..
    P.S- This is not for actual booking that I need.. I tried it, just to learn stuff..

    Reply
  106. Hi Drew,
    Really would love to read the newsletter. can you please forward me the password?

    Thanks.

    ps. just liked your FB/subscribed to your twitter and signed up for your newsletter.

    Reply
  107. Just found this from FM, WOW…It’s eye-opening. Stopovers are not difficult to understand. But adding open-jaws is another story, which is what I enjoyed reading. Especially the last two puzzles…They really opened my mind about OJ.
    Here is what I thought about #1: I can think of four parts which adds up to 92.5K, but I really can not see how you pieced them together…HNL-SYD(SO)-BKK; ORD(or SEA?)-HNL; BKK-NRT; NRT-CDG(SO)-ORD. Tried to put those into multi-city on United to test it. But either error or not what I thought…Keep posting things like that, I do enjoy it

    Reply
  108. Thanks to your great article, I was able to book CLT-ORD-NRT-ICN-HKG-BKK-PEK-IAH-CLT with stopovers or layovers in all the Asian cities in First Class for the same amount as our original idea of just round trip to BKK. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  109. Well I too am late to the party. I just subscribed, but can’t find the password. Can I get a email with it? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ignore me, the auto reply is still working, just a bit delayed.

      Reply
  110. Does this sounds a good trip to you to be booked through United ?

    Tampa-Mumbai (stopover)
    Mumbai – Rome – Open Jaw – Zurich – Tampa

    Please suggest some other route too

    Reply
  111. Might be off topic but can you route HNL-JNB via Asia RT?

    Reply
  112. Absolute Genius!!!!

    Reply
  113. After reading this, I booked mco-fra (layover)-bkk (layover)-hkt (destination) -bkk-ist (stopover)-yyz-mco

    Is there a better way to do this, can I use an open jaw? Any feedback would be appreciated. This sure beats our last trip to Thailand where it was a basic round trip to bkk

    Reply
  114. Maybe I’m just dumb, but what do I do with the password?? I got the email with the password and the link, but I can’t see anything different in the post..

    Reply
  115. Hi Drew!
    You have a great website, very informative! Last week I was able to get this route multiple times online for 80Kmiles:
    Route #1: SBP-LAX-TPE-MNL (stop) MNL-BKK-JNB (dest.) JNB-FRA-LAX-SMX
    When I typed in RT with origin SBP and return to SBP I got an error.

    Route #2 for 65K miles roundtrip was accepted: LAX-TPE-MNL (stop)-MNL-BKK-JNB (destination) JNB-FRA-LAX

    Then I tried reversing the routing because of weather issues in both countries for the months that I’d like to travel:
    Route #3:
    SMX-LAX-FRA-JNB (stop) JNB-BKK-MNL (dest)
    MNL-ICH-LAX-SMX or SBP
    I got an error before the JNB-BKK-MNL segment.. I tried different connections from JNB to MNL showing available rewards then feeding it through the multiple destination field but it just won’t work. This segment is priced at 50K one way.
    The next day, I tried to duplicate and typed in #1 and I got an error. Then I tried again using my husband’s computer and typed in #1 and it accepted the routing for the same miles, 80K. Route #2 priced at 80K instead of 65K and #3 gets an error.
    Is this just a computer issue on my part or United’s? Is #3 illegal routing? If it is, why is it accepting #1 with a different return from the origin ?
    Maybe you can enlighten my thoughts before I call up an agent. Thanks in advance…..

    Reply
  116. Read it! So helpful as we are on a 8 month trip around the world!

    Reply
  117. Thanks. Now just have to try and understand it before I then try to work out how it all works using Australia as the start point.

    Reply
  118. Great stuff! Read and appreciated, 25% retained. Now need to read again (and probably again).

    Reply
  119. yes

    Reply
  120. This post… is better than a whole year of other CC pushing bloggers posts combined!

    Reply
  121. amazing. must read, and re-read again…and again. best blog out there

    Reply
  122. Thanks for the update! I found your website post-devaluation and have been trying to connect the dots on my own so its nice to have all the info in one spot.

    In light of the higher prices to SE Asia, I was wondering if you have any thoughts on getting stopovers to book out of smaller airports (if I have to eat 80,000 miles I want to get the most out of it). I’ve been playing around with trying to route SEA-BKK-Lusaka, Zambia or Tel Aviv but keep getting stuck on the last leg getting back to the Northwest (either PDX or SEA).

    I’m thinking I could just bite the bullet and call for a chance at better availability, or if I have to choose a more popular United Hub for my destination (open-jaw) and then grab a cheap flight home.

    Thanks! And thanks again for the update!

    Reply
  123. I already subscribed but not on Sep 30.
    I did not get any newsletters for the password.
    Can you suggest me a way to get the password?

    Reply
  124. Drew, no offense but while I’m already subscribed I did not save the Sept newsletter. Would you please send me the password? Thanks!

    Reply
    • I’m in the same boat. The first newsletter I got was November 18th

      Reply
  125. joined the club recently. Very helpful since im planning to attend a wedding in sydney on November and Visit MNL for christmas. Thanks Drew and Carrie!

    Reply
  126. I signed up for the newsletter in Feb and received two to date. Could you send the password. Also, is there anyway to access the newsletters prior to the Feb 10 newsletter. Love your site so thanks for all the great info!

    Reply
  127. I already signed up for your newsletters in February I think so I don’t have the password. Could I have it please? I want to learn all the rules because someone had told me I could only do a 23 hour layover.

    Reply
  128. Drew looks like there are more folks subcribed w/o a password.

    Reply
  129. Got the password read the post. One word – Awesome!

    Reply
  130. Woah! This was hard to digest. (I’m a beginner at this) How did you figure this out? Testing it out online?

    Reply
  131. good read!

    Reply
  132. Excellent Info. But can I do an add on leg on a trip on UA that has already started? I am currently on DTW-GRU-DTW in Biz and would like to add any one of LAX/SFO/SEA or TPA on for a future date. Is this possible?

    Reply
  133. Read this when it first came out, saw it again with the newsletter. Didn’t see any mention today though in the updates on segment limits, which I seemed to run into when burning my UA miles.

    Also, did you ever reveal the quiz answer at the end? I never found the answers in your posts the past few months.

    Reply
  134. Thx for another awesome post!

    Reply
  135. Read. enjoyed. Working on your puzzle. Not as much time for this stuff as I used to have tho! Thank you!

    The segment limits crushed my last routing.

    Reply
  136. 100% Read, 10% Comprehended…lol. Thanks so much for posting! Although I have earned countless points through traveling for work over the last few years, I have never ever booked an award flight or had any strategy to earning my points so I’m a newbie. Looking to change that soon and I am excited to reread this and your other articles. Guess I should try to get my United balance up.

    Reply
  137. Great post, as always. Learned a lot from your post.
    I have a question. I live in Argentina. Any EZE-USA roundtrip saver award is 60k, and EZE-Caribean is 40k. When trying to combine them I got these strange results. A ticket EZE-MIA(stopover)-PUJ(destination)-EZE is priced 60K. That’s logic, USA is the most powerfull zone. But changing the order and doing EZE-PUJ(stopover)-MIA(destination)-EZE, is 45k! I could reserve 4 for next January. Do you have any idea why?

    Reply
  138. Such a great post! I am in the process of booking something very similar to the puzzle route you have. Now that my AA miles are worthless after they axed the explorer award, looks like I can put my united miles to some use.

    Let me take a stab at the puzzle.
    Booking 1: ORD-SEA(dunno what this is about)-SFO-HNL (Open Jaw, Stopover) – NRT -FRA – CDG (Destination) – LHR-ORD
    Booking 2: HNL – SYD (Stopover) – BKK (Stopover/Dest) – NRT* – HNL. *Get off plane at NRT, ditching last leg of flight.

    One question. If one makes a super long open jaw at dest or stopover. For example, going from Beijing to Moscow by train, how does that price coming from the US

    Reply
  139. Drew any hints on RT NA -> Central Asia in Biz for less than published price?

    Reply
  140. Great stuff, thank you!

    Reply
  141. I would like to get the password too.

    Reply
  142. Hi Drew,
    I travel full time in the US for work and inspired by your and Carrie’s blogs, am going to try this Points game to maximize my vacation travels. This post was definitely over my head at this point but I know I will definitely be reviewing over and over! Thanks for this info and great blog, makes me want to go out and see and do more!!

    Reply
  143. Would it be possible to send me the password for this? I signed up for your newsletter in December and have been finding great original content and value in your posts – especially your email newsletters! Unfortunately I didn’t sign up in time to get your September 30th password. Thank you!

    Reply
  144. I’ve been working on a trip to South Africa next summer, but reading your post, I wonder if I can combine it with a trip to China I’ve been wanting to do.

    Would this work?

    IAD- JNB-CPT (stopover)-JNB- PEK (destination) // PEK – IAD

    Basically, can I combine a trip to CPT with a trip to PEK?

    Thanks!!!!

    Reply
  145. Read it. Love it. Still working on the puzzle!

    Reply
  146. Hi: I’ve tried a one-way LAX to SYD, with stopover in BKK, it keeps pricing 57,500. Anything I’m missing? I thought it’d price at 40K..help.

    Reply
  147. Comment 298!! :) You should do a similar routing rules post for AA too! I’m planning on spoiling my future wife and I on our way home from Thailand next year and book a Business class one way award ticket back to DC. I would love to see what options we have!

    Reply
  148. Hi, Just got to your blog and I must say, I learnt a lot. I am trying to book a flight to Australia via India. What’s my best option?

    EWR – BOM
    BOM – SYD
    SYD – EWR

    Is that possible?

    Reply
  149. Read!

    Reply
  150. My mind is swimming with the possibilities. I’m still an absolute beginner, as I have yet to land one of the really nice travel rewards cards. Plugging along with a Chase Freedom for now, but I will be converting to Sapphire preferred ASAP.

    Reply
  151. Sir,

    A question for you:

    Why can i book GRU-ADD(stop)-BKK ; BKK-SIN but not GRU-JNB(stop) -BKK ; BKK-SIN? The regions are unchanged…

    Also, why can I book JNB-DXB(stop)-BKK; BKK-JNB but not JNB-DXB(stop)-BKK;BKK-SIN?

    I’m quite stumped, especially in the first example. MPM?

    Also, why does NAN-AKL(4 hour layover)-RAR now price as two one ways instead of 12.5?

    Many thanks for all your great content and help. Feel free to email me at maxlovesaamiles AT gmail if you’re feeling generous. I look forward to meeting you in October in Chicago.

    Reply
  152. Drew,

    I read the added content. That being said, I’ll be re-reading so I can get a better understanding.

    Reply
  153. Hi Drew,

    Where exactly can I access the rest of the article. I signed up for the news letter and got the password, but am unsure where to use it.

    Reply
  154. Thanks for all of this information. You’ve really inspired me to figure out how I might be able to combine Sydney, Hawaii, Mexico, NY or Chicago, and Vancouver… hmmm

    Reply
  155. Amazing post. I’ve been following other travel bloggers for a while now, and you’re definitely different. So much information to digest, not just credit cards. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  156. I am very confused about the password. After I joined in June, the first email was from ‘FeedBurner’ asking me to confirm my subscription. The second email I got was the ‘Complete Guide to United Miles’.
    I can’t seem seem to find the proper password. Help?

    Reply
  157. I read it. Incredibly well detailed and (relatively speaking) easily understood. Now, having said that: I’m going to read through this thrice again when I’m fresh-eyed and busy-tailed. Thanks again!

    Reply
  158. I read it. Complex but useful. I’ll remember it next time I’m trying to make a United trip!

    Reply
  159. Thanks a lot for this great blog Drew! I booked dream trip in March 2015 because of you! I am probably one of the few United travelers who is starting from Europe. Our dream trip is Prague origin. PRG-FRA-BKK (all day layover)-AKL (23 hrs layover)-NAN (destination), NAN-AKL (stopover), AKL-BKK-VIE-PRG.
    Now I’m trying to book next trip starting in Europe. However I still can’t make it. I need this time combine Europe, North Asia and USA. Starting and ending in Europe. I was able to book only Europe-USA, USA-Europe, Europe-North Asia. Is there any chance to book this trip starting and ending in Europe? I was inspired by your post above which is starting and ending in USA and combine similar regions: ORD-IST, IST-BKK, SIN-LAX.
    Could you please give me some advise how to book with Europe origin? Thanks again Drew

    Reply
  160. @travelisfree
    useful article.. ill be implementing it on my next round-world itinerary.
    any way to get the password to the additional info please?
    thanks

    Reply
  161. @travelisfree
    your mixed cabin example is very interesting.. 80k for ORD-VIE(stop)-BKK in first??
    isnt that the UA-metal-only price for first?
    shouldnt it be 120k for partner-operated flights?
    thanks

    Reply
  162. I’ve just found out that our itinerary: EWR-GRU, EZE-SCL-BOG-UIO-(stop-over)-SAL-EWR is not possible to make because an open jaw GRU – EZE is around 1,000 miles and it has to be less than 700 miles. Any comments on that???

    Reply
  163. Very interesting stuff and in depth detailing…. I really enjoyed reading it…. Please keep up the good work as it is because of people like you, we newbies… get to learn a lot :)

    I’m planning a trip from JFK to Beijing to India to JFK. Not necessarily in same order it can be India then Beijing with stopover in India or Beijing…. Do you have any comments on that for me….

    Reply
  164. Hi Drew,

    Thank you so much for sharing all the tips. It really helps! I’m new to this area and encounter a difficult case. I’d really appreciate if you can advise.

    Planning a trip from 11/26/2014-12/1/2014, SFO – Liberia Costa Rica, I have total 29,000 UA mileage, plus 5,2000 under Chase Sapphire Ultimate Rewards. There’s another 24,000 coming into UA account early November. What’s your best suggestion on how to maximize all the mileage?

    Thank you so much in advance! I’ll share with my friends your awesome blog :)

    Nicole

    Reply
  165. I read every word and will try my hand in using your tips.

    Reply
  166. Hi Drew,
    I have a challenge for you. My kid and I are traveling the world and fortunately have years of United miles to use….but I need help. We booked our first one ways from Turkey (IST) to Chiang Mai. (no creativity but since we weren’t planning on coming back through Europe I didn’t think there was a way to use all your tricks BUT I know there must be a way to be creative coming up. Problem is, most tricks are based starting in the US…but what if we are elsewhere?! Anyways, here’s the challenge. After Thailand we will be in Burma. From Burma we need to get to Sydney (for Christmas) then to New Zealand. After that our plan is up in the air. Current plan is to go to SE Asia, then China, then Japan then home (Austin) via SFO to see family. Can you piece anything together for us? I’m convinced I can continue paying very little for airfare on this RTW, year long trip…but this is all so time consuming! Advice from an expert?

    Reply
  167. Here’s my shot at solving the puzzle:

    Booking 1 (57.5k miles):
    ORD -> HNL (stopover) -> SYD = 40k
    SYD ->BKK = 17.5k

    Booking 2 (57.5k miles):
    BKK -> NRT =17.5l
    NRT -> Europe (stopover) -> ORD = 40k

    Total = 115k

    Reply
  168. I wonder if this is outdated? Searching one way (multiple cities) on United.com for award tickets…

    AUS – DXB – NRT prices out at 77,500.

    AUS – JNB – NRT prices out at 85,000 :(

    Reply
  169. This should be legal but I am encountering an error… I wonder why.
    LAX – LHR (Open Jaw) – DUB -CGK (Stop Over)-LAX

    Reply
    • The obvious is lack of availability. But assuming there is availability, have you tried calling and booking? Just because it errors out doesn’t meant that it isn’t legal.
      See this: http://travelisfree.com/2014/08/05/united-error-message-decision-making-tree/

      However, if it agents say it just doesn’t book (despite there being award space) don’t fight back. It’s all automated. And if STILL doesn’t work, I’d have two guesses.
      My instinct is that you can’t cross both oceans now. Which is hard to say because agents have been telling people that for years, and I’ve been saying it’s not true for years. But it may actually be true now. I started noticing this a while ago, but never really gave it the proper testing. So you’d need to route through Europe to get back to the US. Just a guess. But it’s usually an issue of availability or the website.

      Reply
  170. Hello Drew,
    Happy Holidays.. I am following your block and I can tell that it has wealth of information for anybody in miles game. I was/am utilizing stop over, open-jaw but look like there are way more to learn from you by reading your blog. Great work..

    On a side note, I am testing/trying below route which gives me an error.

    ORD > DXB (stop over) > MAD (destination) > LIS or BCN > ORD

    DXB to MAD gives me error regardless of what date I choose. I am expecting it will price out as Europe ticket 60K like Japan route 70K as you mentioned. I am thinking about calling in to see what they have to say but wanted to see your expert opinion first.

    Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Forgot to add that I already saw Middle East is stronger region compare to Europe that’s why asking your expert advice.

      Reply
    • I got it covered and booked for 70K miles using Morocco instead :-). Now getting out from Barcelona.

      Existing route requested was priced at 85K due to stronger region stopover. Now that is still covered but with 70K !!!

      All due to your blog Drew !!!

      Thanks a bunch..

      Reply
  171. My wife and I are doing 1 or 2 retirement Asia/Oz victory trips. To really learn all/most of your tricks would take toooo much brain damage for the result imho. However you have provided the ammo we need to ask an award broker powerful questions. Thank you.

    Reply
  172. Hi Drew,

    Great article! Just signed up for the newsletter but that doesn’t help me out for this article. Can you send the password so I can check out the rest? Thanks!

    -Dustin

    Reply
  173. Good stuff. I have long been thinking of a RTW award, but at 200k is pricey. Just tested a booking from IAD-ZRH-BKK, NRT-IAD and it priced out at 75k. That savings of 125k miles can go a LONG ways towards some short haul tickets, or bringing others. Of course, I would be more inclined to upgrade the long haul portions…but it was fun piecing it together to see how it can work. Great job. Keep up the good stuff!

    Reply
  174. Thanks for the great post drew. Got a bit of a puzzle for you tho:

    Trying to book Bkk-akl but can’t find any availibility for late December and early January. Not too unusual except I can find availability from Ktm-Akl thru Bkk.

    December 29 Ktm-Bkk-pvg-Nrt-akl pricing at 35000.

    Since the search out of Bangkok didn’t turn anything up I used the multicity tool and pieced it together Bkk-pvg-Nrt-akl. It worked except that it priced it as 40k when it should’ve been 17.5k.
    The only thing I can figure is the algorithms priced it as two different awards. I can’t make sense of it and was wondering if you had any wise insights.

    Reply
  175. Thanks for the great content.

    Reply
  176. This is amazing, I’m still learning to read and understand, but it’s a great start!

    Would love to see more features of possible routes + how many points it would take!

    Reply
  177. You are my top hero. EVER. I’m going to play with my routing as soon as United opens up the dates I want! Can’t wait to try different combos. SWEEEEEEET!!!!

    Reply
  178. Thank you so much for this and your other posts, Drew. It’s the first time I’m posting here but I think you’re freaking awesome. Trying to plan an award trip to Hawaii, Australia, and Japan, all in one trip. Looking at using United miles, but also have AA miles and some Avios at our disposal. Wish you another wonderful year of travel and amazing experiences.

    Reply
  179. Great info! I have a lot of air travel miles behind me, and I’d never thought about adding a layover to an awards trip. I’m leaving my job in March to travel indefinitely, and will make good use of this tidbit and others on your blog. Glad to have found it.

    Reply
  180. I am a total noob so please forgive my ignorance! I currently don’t have any miles, but I think I am going to push United miles do the flexibility with open jaws and stopovers. I was able to get a legal booking going from ORD – FRA (stopover) – BKK – SIN (open jaw) – ORD. However, I actually live in Nashville and would like to do the following: BNA – PRG (stopover) – BKK (destination) – SIN (open jaw) – BNA. Is this legal or is it too many connections due to leaving from BNA. I appreciate any assistance.

    Reply
    • I should elaborate that I get an “error” message on United when I attempt to leave from BNA.

      Reply
  181. This is fantastic – love the pictures to make it easier for me to understand. I have United miles and Chase UR and have been trying to figure out how best to use them – I understood USAirways when in Star, I love Avios/OW but the United rules have been a bit annoying so this has been good to give me a few ideas to run with – cheers! sue

    Reply
  182. thanks for this post! I read it and am excited to continue nerding out on this stuff. A little confused though about how to know which will be the most powerful zone on any given route. Is it always the zone that costs the most award miles? and if so, that means it will always be the destination?

    Reply
  183. I have two questions. First, would you recommend the Citi AAdvantage or the Chase Sapphire for a beginner that’s looking for the most flexibility to travel for 3 months during summer of 2016 (i’m already doing a 3,100 mile bike tour summer of 2015 across the USA.) This could be India/Nepal, Europe, SE Asia, Australia/NZ, Peru, etc. We’re completely undecided at this point. Secondly, should my wife just open up the same exact card as me to get double the points? We don’t spend a ton of cash so it would be me opening it up for the next 3 months to get the 40-50,000 bonus miles and then she would open up another one in 3 months to again get the 40-50,000 bonus miles. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  184. Over my head……….I’ll just work on accumulating miles/points and by the time I have enough maybe I’ll understand it better.

    Reply
  185. Hey Drew!

    I’m interested in doing a trip from LAX->TLV->NRT->LAX. The problem is the United.com routes me back east from Tokyo, when its much faster going west.

    You have a very similar route above where you stop at DXB. What’s the deal?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  186. Wonderful post. I am suitably challenged and will try to make a go of this. Any similar guidance out there for AA?

    Reply
  187. Hi drew, I love your blog. It has some really great content. I just recently signed up for your news letter a few months ago. Is it possible to get the code for this article? Thanks!

    Also, I booked an itinerary for my wife before reading your united routes that I think would be an interesting data point. I booked her pek-Uln (stop, mongolia), then Uln-hkg (stop), Syd-uln. I’m surprised I could open jaw between hkg And Syd as they are different regions. I did it online.

    Reply
  188. Read this – great stuff; just subscribed. Haven’t seen this kind of stuff anywhere else!

    Reply
  189. Great post (and others also)! I never subscribe to any such mail lists, but I did subscribe to yours. This gives me closer to the type of knowledge on UA to what I have of several other airline routing rules (such as DL), where I practically always know more than their own reservations staff.

    I just wish you went into more detail here.

    The big question that this doesn’t answer, and that I can’t find any answers online to, is this: is Hawaii – N.Asia – EU and/or Hawaii – Japan – EU valid award routing on UA? That is, of course, the shortest actual route (lesser total miles flown, shorter flights, lower number of flights/connections) to most parts of Europe. But, when searching HNL – EU (e.g., FRA), UA only provides longer routings that are both 1/2 trans Pacific and trans Atlantic (forces to cross two oceans). I can’t force award routing over Asia via multi-city on united.com, and I can’t even do HNL -(trans-Pacific + trans-Atlantic, as UA forces)- EU – Japan or N. Asia – HNL (w/ stopover in Japan or N. Asia, either on outbound or return, the other way going trans-Atlantic as forced). united.com always, without fail, errors out, though flights are available when searching for one-ways.

    The big question here is: is Hawaii to Europe (and vice versa) valid routing to transit Japan and/or N. Asia on UA awards (and to have a stopover or stopover w/ open-jaw there, on either outbound or return)? And if so, is that something that can be only booked by phone and never online?

    I really hope that you can shed some light on this. Also, some of your other posts, like the most powerful zones, need more detail (e.g. in that post, the “power” of the Hawaii zone is not listed).

    Reply
  190. An excellent post that is still being read and still very helpful! I’ve been an avid reader of the most popular dozen or so travel hacking blogs for a few months now as my wife and I caught the miles/points bug from friends and just started collecting miles ourselves. Yours is the first site I’ve subscribed to the email list for, and this post certainly makes it worth it! You and your wife stand apart with your perspective and I’m very thankful that you both share that perspective in such an honest and informative way on your sites. I will be using your credit card links whenever possible in the future as a small token of my gratitude.

    Reply
  191. Been searching for info like this-so glad I came across your site! This is going to take me hours to re-read and figure out though…

    Reply
  192. Great read. Thanks for writing it.

    Reply
  193. Thanks so much for this post – I found it incredibly interesting. I have been a long time United user and have been looking for a post like this.

    I am trying to book a trip to middle east with stopover in Asia. I know middle east cant be combined with Oceania but should there be any problem with Asia? I found all the available one ways for the following itinerary but am still getting the lousy error message. I will attempt to call it in but wanted to see if I’m missing something first.

    EWR>IKA (has layovers) IKA>BKK(stopover) BKK>IAD (open jaw on return destination)

    Thanks for your help and insight!

    Reply
  194. Great, very detailed and informative post! Love your blog. Please don’t stop sharing your travel wisdom with us.

    Reply
  195. So with the UAL website not allowing me to process (or even view) the legs, is the best advice to look for each segment first to make sure it’s available (e.g. the international award), then call the CS agent to book all 3 legs with them..the roundtrip and the one-way add on? Has there been any pushback from reps re. adding the domestic (free) one-way?

    Also, is the 21 day change rule (for the date of the one-way add on) per segment? I would think that since you’ve technically already started your trip (with the international round trip), you can’t make the change to the back-end free one way without incurring a higher fee? thanks

    Reply
  196. Thanks for putting this kind of content together. It really separates your blog from others. I’m just starting out and do understand the basics, but hopefully all of it will make sense to me eventually (sooner rather than later). Appreciate it!

    Reply
  197. My brain is spinning! I wiki’d open jaw but couldn’t find stop over. I’m new to this. Have a group of ladies with a very small facebook group. We refer to ourselves as the Mile Whores Club! Just now learning how to earn the points.. am getting that down. Now I have to learn how to burn them! Found your blog by the most experienced member of the MWC. She loves your blog and I’m sure I will too!

    Reply
  198. Read it…and am simply astounded. Who knew there was so much to know? Have a trip coming up to India, and want to get in a few places as cheaply as possible with miles. Got a lot of work to do!

    Reply
  199. found your site from the DreamTrip course on CreativeLive. Post read and I’m austounded.

    Reply
  200. Love the articles. I signed up for your newsletter earlier this year, so I don’t have the password in my inbox. Could you please email it to me?

    Reply
  201. Looking to do the following:
    ord-nrt-ord-muc
    Valid as a free one-way? I’m unclear because of the region change. Can’t seem to book online and all the agents I talk to are having issues with the routing… not sure that they are technical issues :)
    Thanks!

    Reply
  202. Read and Love it. Takes some time to digest though.

    Reply
  203. Terrific information, Drew! I’m planning a trip as follows: (Outbound)JFK to Munich, Open jaw #1, Vienna to Tokyo/Destination, (Return) – Open jaw #2, Osaka to Istanbul, stopover in Istanbul, Istanbul to JFK. I believe I can do this for 70,000 miles. What do you think?

    Reply
  204. HELP. I am so intrigued and want to try this. As it is, we’ve got a trip planned, 11/19-12/3
    LAX to London Heathrow (United perhaps)
    London to Budapest (take a low cost carrier like EasyJet or RyanAir
    Budapest to Prague (take train from Budapest)
    Prague to LAX (United)

    If I book via United, for 2 people, it will cost us 120K miles and around $157 in fees

    I was thinking of booking LAX to LHR, then Prague to LAX, and then add Hawaii (Lihue or something) for another 10K total for the 1 way to Lihue…making my grand total 130K miles. Can I do better? I would like to figure out a way to fly to Budapest or Prague – but I’m not sure how…HELP!!!

    Reply
  205. Read it. I can’t say I digested it but it seems like very valuable content so I’ll be back for another read for sure.

    Reply
  206. Yeah Drew, I dropped a comment in another thread you had going about hypothetical itineraries with open jaws and such. While I am grasping the concepts; I am totally missing how to actually book. Are these complex routes all separate tickets or one singular ticket? Are they booked directly with the airlines or a metasearch or aggregator and then the points or mileage requested after the trip? I apologize for my ignorance; I am certain that this question, and many others have already been addressed by yourself in other threads. Thanks for your patience!

    Reply
  207. I read it all and loved it! Love the insights. ‘d like to be able to book one of these mega-trips, but because of the length of the stopovers, by the time the window opens to book the last leg the first leg availability has usually dried up. (for a non-elite)

    Reply
  208. I would like to read the password protected part of this article. Any chance I can get the password?

    Reply
  209. Well I read it, but it takes too much effort to figure it out. Obviously the key is the power order. I’ve kept the password so one day if I ever get any United miles (or decide to transfer my UR pts there) I will get serious about understanding what you are doing. I love a puzzle! thanks for posting this.

    Reply
  210. Hey Drew,

    I read this and I understood it all. The teaching simply through pictures was actuallly a little more difficult for me to follow. I liked the original version of this post with the flow charts of the most powerful zones, it helped me grasped that concept better. Just a different style of learning I suppose.

    I really like your united routing guides, I’ve used them to book some pretty sweet awards. I live outside the US, so they don’t always hold up because my travel originates and ends in other regions, sometimes without even touching the US. but they have been a great starting point for understanding and maximizing stopovers, open jaws, and rewards. I realize most of your readers are based in the US, but do you have any plans to start branching out and exploring some of the routing rules for travel originating in other regions? I live in South Korea if you’re looking for a good place to start πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  211. Read it. Please do more like this!

    Reply
  212. Read. I don’t really understand it yet, but thanks!

    Reply
  213. This post is fantastic. If I understand it correctly, I should be able to make a stopover in Africa on the way to/or back from Southeast Asia, all for 80k points. However, I always get an error when trying to book this on the United website. Is this just because some of these flights may not have available seats for rewards travel? Maybe I’d have better luck calling in. Thoughts?

    -Matt

    Reply
  214. This is “A Beautiful Mind” level stuff, my friend. I don’t understand most of it, but thank you for sharing. I think I’ll be able to put my miles to much better use now that I’ve read it.

    Reply
  215. Hey….I was trying to book this route via ua award ticket:
    GEG -> CDG -> TPE -> GEG. However, when I tried to “select” for Saver Awards, I got error. Is this a legal route? Or is there something wrong? Thanks for any suggestions.

    Reply
  216. I signed up for your newsletter for this post. I haven’t had time to digest it yet, but the info looks great and incredibly useful. I also like that there is still a blogger who is making quality posts about United MP miles.

    Reply
  217. I have been signed up for your newsletter for over a year, but cannot find the password. Can you please re-send it to me?

    Reply
  218. Read it…. Love it…. But how do I book it? Can you give step by step instructions on how to book? I want to go to SIN to Abu Dhabi, with stop overs in Brisbane & cairns. Can you please help me?

    Reply
  219. Hi Drew,
    Do you think I can book Singapore-NZ-Fiji-Sin with a stopover in Fiji and open jaw in NZ (leaving or arriving from CHC and AKL?)

    Reply
  220. Hey Drew,

    So many great resources here! Just signed up for the newsletter and would love to read the rest of this article – lmk if there’s a way you can share it via email or some other lowkey way. Thanks!

    James

    Reply
  221. Great article. I truly value the time plus effort that goes into this. The tricks do take a bit to digest so I will be playing around some routing options to Delhi to see how it stacks up to your “teachings” πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  222. Drew,

    I’m thinking that our luck may have run out on using the most powerful zone concept. I just ran a search from LAX>NRT>BKK>LAX. This used to price out at 70k, but now it’s 80k. Maybe United made some changes when they implemented the new site?

    Reply
    • Hi Drew,
      I was just about to ask the same thing… I’m trying to figure out a trick to fly round trip to Thailand for 70K miles by going to Japan (or possibly oceana). Can’t seem to get it to work, it keeps coming out to be 80K. Any thoughts?

      Reply
  223. drew, i’m trying to do something similar to your first example on the page, only using africa insted of se asia. although i see your note says “You used to be able add an open-jaw to a stopover or destination:” – is this still the case? the flyer talk faq seems to indicate so but it may just be copied/pasted from older years. so is this still valid? or can you now only have an open jaw at the origin and destination, if you try to create an itinerary using both?

    Reply
  224. Just came back to read this again after a year… really powerful stuff. Would love to see some more posts like this!

    Reply
  225. Hey Drew,

    I love the website and this particular post. I recently signed up for your newsletter, but I’d be interested in getting the newsletter from this post to get the password to see the full breadth of this post. Thanks.

    Reply
  226. Drew,
    I am very interested in getting your newsletter. Do I have to pay if so ! how much? Thank you

    Reply
  227. Drew,
    Do i need a password? , to read your newsletter, I have never seen it.

    Reply
  228. This is a great post. Sad to say I had not found your website yet on 9/30/14 when that newsletter was sent out. Would it be possible to get that password?

    Reply
  229. It took me some time to figure out how exactly all this worked but this website and a really helpful customer service rep for United helped me so much! I am leaving for Thailand on Monday and now have my flight to Europe and home covered as well and in such an ingenious and money saving way!! Thank you for taking the time to learn about and educate on the stopovers and open jaws rules for award tickets…really once I figured out how it all worked – I WAS AMAZED!

    Reply
  230. Thank you for this post. I did read it and somewhat understood the concept, which truly amazed me. I am a beginner though. However, at this time, my family & I can only travel domestically (or at least less than 6 hrs flight time) due my special-needs child. I wonder if there is a way to maximize points redemption on domestic travel.

    Reply
  231. Wooooo a little confusing, but I got the gist of it! Thank you!!

    Reply
  232. Just getting into travel hacking and planning a trip to Asia using miles this summer. Would love to read the rest of the article, any chance the pw can be shared? Thanks

    Reply
  233. pls send me more OPEN_JAW secrets to my E-mail, if possible. I’d really like to learn those.

    Reply
  234. Drew –

    I am sure you’re getting lots of questions today since United just released an email with news of new MileagePlus rules for booking awards starting on October 6. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it – especially since I am looking to book a trip to Asia in the next few months, and was trying to understand the existing rules as you wrote about them (very helpful btw)!

    I am hoping to use miles on United or its partners to go from RDD or SFO to Southeast Asia and visiting three countries. I would like to start with Thailand, then go to Bali (DPS) or Vietnam – whichever was easier to book first. But I am not too concerned with the order of travel in the countries. In Vietnam, I would fly in to HAN and out of SGN. Return would ideally be to RDD or SFO.

    As a newbie to this, I was literally just working on how that might work out with the connection, stopover and open jaw rules as you explained them – when I got United’s email about the new rules starting in October. Based on my initial read, am I right in thinking the new rules will require more miles for my trip? Any ideas on how I might put this itinerary together (under the existing rules or new rules – whichever work best)?

    I was also wondering if the ANA rules would work – with the multiple stopovers their awards allow (although I am not sure that my kids would like to return the long way across Europe and the US which I understand their award would require).

    Thanks for any thoughts you have on this — and best of luck in your new venture! I LOVE the idea!

    Reply
  235. I read the article. It is above my head also. I am retiring in a year or three and am accumulating points and have every intention of learning the game of ticket buying at a discount. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  236. I want to go to Bali and possibly stop in Dubai is this legal or what is the best route with stopovers?

    Reply
  237. how can i get the password to the article? Is it still valid routing?

    Reply
  238. Dear Drew, You have the best instruction to use miles. Thank you.

    My husband and I will travel from New York to Taipei (stopover) then to Kathmandu(KTM) and back to stay a week in Taipei then back to New York.
    What is your opinion to have the least mileage used? (Asia Miles or any other airline mileage program).

    If I do NYC to HKG(stopover) to KTM(destination) and back to HKG(stopover) and then NYC. Will this consider 2 stopovers or 3 stopovers?

    Thank you very much.

    Reply
  239. Good Stuff.

    Reply

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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.
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