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United Stopover Changes Oct 6

You may have heard that United is making changes on Oct 6. The changes are regarding change fees, stopovers, and stopover bookings (this post will go over the stopover / booking changes).

I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that they are limiting some of the features I love about United stopovers.

The good news is that this Tuesday I will give the best post on United stopover tricks I’ve ever published.

One my most popular posts ever was the United Stopover Secrets. When I meet people I still get questions about the puzzle at the end. Since it’s going to be going away… I might as well spill the beans.

However, this post will be about how the rules are changing. But to be prepared for my Tuesday post, I highly recommend reading the Complete Guide To United Routing Rules and possibly the United Stopover Secrets.

 

United’s Upcoming Changes To Stopovers

Here is the link to the MileagePlus Updates. (HT: I found out about the changes via the ViewFromTheWing post).

Basically they are “eliminating” stopovers because they are “confusing”, and calling it the “Excursionist Perk”.

The “Excursionist Perk” is just stopovers in the region of your destination. It’s the same stopover rules but with added restrictions. I can’t possibly understand how this could be less confusing. You could book the same things before, but now there are more rules… to make it less confusing?

And adding a dumb name instead of calling it a stopover? Oh these idiots are master re-branders. I’m sure everyone will be telling their friends about the “Excursionist Perk” instead of the confusing “stopover” concept.

 

Here are the rules of the “Excursionist Perk”:

  1. Stopover can not be in your originating region.
  2. Travel must start and end in the same region.
  3. Stopovers must be in the same region as the destination.
  4. You can add more oneways on the same ticket.

 

Let me explain them one at a time.

1) Stopover can not be in your originating region.

You can not start in LA and stopover in New York on your way to Europe.

This rule is redundant once you know rule three… so moving on…

 

2) Travel must start and end in the same region.

You can not start in the US and end in the Caribbean. You can’t fly New York to London, and then London back to the Caribbean.

If your round trip to Europe started in the US, it has to return to the US.

 

3) Stopovers must be in the same region as the destination.

You can not stopover in London on your way to Africa.

If your destination is in Europe, your stopover would have to be in Europe (or vice versa).

As I’ll mention, you can add tickets on, but you’ll pay for them.

 

4) You can add more oneways on the same ticket.

They try to imply this is a new benefit, but the fact of the matter is, it’s just a bunch of oneways. You can always book oneways, but now you can book them in the same place.

If you want to add multiple connections in the same ticket, you could, but soon you’ll do it via the multi-city booking.

 

What It Means

It means my concepts of stopovers in one region, to help save prices in another region, will go away completely. You won’t be able to stopover in different regions without paying extra.

This totally nukes the benefits of stopovers.

Again, it appears to be the same stopover rules with huge restrictions.

The big stopovers (and things I’m going to share Tuesday) are about the only reason I like United. Continually United has no competitive edge in their frequent flyer program. Their earnings are tied for the lowest, their award prices are among the highest, and they are getting rid of their big stopover benefits.

I’m not saying I won’t get value out of the miles, I’m just saying they’ll go from my favorite program to spend in, to totally the same as everyone (just higher prices than Alaska, AA, etc…).

 

Open-Jaws?

My assumption is that the open-jaw rules will be similar. Currently you can apply two open-jaws to a roundtrip, one on the destination, and one where you can return to a different city than you originated. But now you have to return to the same region.

 

Any Good News?

My only hope is that their continual undervaluing of their site means that their changes will be as junky as their current site.

There could be some small benefits I foresee, but nothing major. Hopefully I’m wrong, but we’ll find out in October.

 

Conclusion

United has bad changes/limitations coming to their stopover benefit, coming Oct 6.

Check in Tuesday and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

However, I may do a refresher course on United tricks Monday. But Tuesday will be the big reveal.

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11 Comments

  1. “2)If your round trip to Europe started in the US, it has to return to the US.”

    Well, I think 9 out of 10 you’re right, although I hope you’re wrong. United couldn’t have worded it weirder.

    “The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates. (For example, if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America.).”

    See the contradiction? NA is not a “region.” Mainland U.S. is a region, Mexico is a region, Hawaii is a region, but not NA. So my [slim] hope is that they will also define the stopover and destination rules by these bigger zones (“The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region”). That would give us a better wiggle room.

    http://lazytravelers.net/united-stopover-rules-2016-enhancements/

    Looking forward to your Tuesday post!

    Reply
    • I might disagree on the interpretation here. Although I may be confused about what you’re saying.

      The wording you quoted has to do with where the stopover is allowed, and not returning to the US.
      It explicitly says “Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates”.
      So it definitely has to return to the US.

      The reult you quoted is the addition to the following, “The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates”.
      In other words, your stopover can’t be in the US.

      You can’t be crossing into third zones with a partner, because the next rule says, “The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.”

      I personally don’t see any hope in their intent. My hope is that their programming sucks as usual.

      Reply
    • I’ve brought it up as an example that they are confused with the definitions of regions. They say “Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates,” and yet, North America is not a region. It encompasses 3 regions. So when they say “if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America,” it doesn’t make any sense because they should’ve said “if your journey begins in the U.S., you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside the U.S., etc. The way it is worded, gives me a little hope that they haven’t thought it through (or did and intend to change to a wider definition of “the MileagePlus defined region”), which would be a little better outcome.

      Reply
  2. I have to say that Rule #1 is not completely redundant when considering Rule #3. It is just more unfortunate, if true. Say I wanted to book a domestic U.S. ticket with a stopover. Rule #3 allows it, but Rule #1 forbids it. Thus, you can never have a stopover on a domestic ticket. Or on any intra-single-region ticket. Really stupid.

    Reply
  3. Aaaaand, I just found out that United already charges 10k extra for domestic stopovers. Never knew that. I’ll be darned. But you’re still hosed if you wanted a single-region itinerary (priced out a Central America one to check) under the new rules.

    Reply
  4. “Excursionist Perk” has to be the dumbest term in the history of miles & points! It’s like they sent a memo around the office and offered movie passes to the best suggestion for the new stop-overs or something.

    Real glad I got my EBB-ADD-LUN-x/JNB-WDH already booked!

    Reply
  5. Drew, even if the stopover in region different than the destination is going away, there are still some regions where this is handy yes? Reading through the explanation, I gather that SEA-NRT-BKK (stopover), then BKK-PEK (destination) is still allowed, yes?

    Do you know if the most powerful zone concept is still untouched or does that change too? I like trying out different premium cabins, so I’d be tempted to do one-way routes like SIN-BKK-VIE-FRA-SEA, or ICN-PEK-VIE-ZRH-YYZ, or SIN-TPE-ICN-NRT-SEA.

    Reply
    • If the new rule says that the “Excursionist Perk” needs to be in the same region as the destination, then that wouldn’t work. BKK is in “South Asia” region, and PEK is in the “North Asia” region. BKK stopover with a destination in SIN would work (both “South Asia”) or stopover in ICN with a destination of PEK would work (both “North Asia”).

      Reply
  6. Yeah, the end of an era. Have one last hurrah coming up – an outbound of LGA-YYZ-YVR-ICN-BKK, then an open jaw to HKT, and return of HKT-BKK-TYO(stopover)-ICN-JFK in J. Thanks for the excellent work in decoding UA’s routing mechanisms – it’s definitely maximized my travel over the last few years :)

    Reply
  7. I might have been confused but I tried this and it did not work. Can you please tell me why . I understand Japan and South Korea is North Asia Region, so I am planning a trip to Seoul with a stop in Narita . DEN -ICN/ ICN-NRT /NRT -DEN – but INC to NRT wasn’t free at all. They charge miles for all sectors .. Not seeing for free ..What I am missing here?

    Reply
    • I am having the same issue with LAX to NRT to ICN to LAX. Miles being charged from Narita to Incheon… Is Japan its own region?!

      Reply

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