CardMatch™


New United Stopover Tricks! (The Roundtrip Hack)

This post is about the tricks and crazy stopover routes that you can now do with United miles… thanks to their new changes.

Yesterday I talked about the New United Routing Rules. That was about how things price, why, and what you can and can’t do. I recommend reading it if you really want to understand the following tricks.

However, I think you’ll find this post way more interesting! It’s all about how to get a stopover on a oneway (sorta).

My Summary Of New United Routing Rules

Taken from my last post, here are the new United routing rules:

  1. One free segment per booking.
  2. Free segment has to be in the same region (but different than the region of origin).
  3. Booking must return to region of origin.
  4. 1 stopover per booking, openjaws are allowed.
  5. As many segments are allowed as you want, you just pay for them all like you would a bunch of separately booked oneways.

 

The tricks I shared yesterday talked about:

  • How you can have unlimited open-jaws.
  • How you can open-jaw anywhere – like fly into Rome and out of Bangkok.
  • How the very first segment within a single region is the free segment.
  • How your free segment can be up to the class of the previous segment (regardless of it’s length).

But today I want to add a few concepts that could lead to a bunch of fun.

 

Roundtrip Hack: End in the same region.

Notice that one of the rules I mentioned was that the booking must return to the region of origin.

In fact, this isn’t my rule, but this one was published by United… and it’s quite telling. It specifically says, “Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.”

It just needs to end there.

And remember, since you can use as many open-jaws as you want, you don’t have to return to the same city… just the same region.

 

In other words, you’re allowed your free segment as long as your trip ends in the region you started in. In most cases, it’s the US.

So if you start in the US, you get a free segment (provided that the stopover and destination are in the same region) when your booking ends in the US as well.

 

Example:

ORD – BKK – SIN / MEX – WAS

How does it price?

  • ORD – BKK = 40k
  • BKK – SIN = 0
  • MEX – WAS = 17.5k

Total = 57.5k

 

In this case we started in the US, and got our free segment in Asia (Bangkok to Singapore), because we also ended in the US.

 

The Big Reason – Biz/First

Let’s say we want to do a big trip to Africa, meaning we want to visit two destinations – like Kenya and South Africa.

And let’s also say we have fine taste (as many of you do), and want to travel in Business Class.

But a ticket to Africa in Business is 80,000 miles! But let’s say you only have 100,000 miles. Not enough for an economy ticket back… but if you do a oneway, you don’t get the free stopover in Kenya.

Actually… the hypothetical doesn’t matter… here’s the trick.

 

Example:

EWR – NBO – CPT / MEX – WAS

How does it price?

  • EWR – NBO (in business) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business) = 0
  • MEX – WAS (in economy) = 17.5k

Total = 97.5k

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 10.18.02 PM

 

Summary

Essentially, what I’m trying to do is get the intra Africa flight (NBO – CPT) for free, as it’s 8 hours direct and normally 35,000 miles. And the way we get that flight for free is by making it a “roundtrip”, or rather, we end in US (the region of origin).

 

The 10,000 Mile Question

Taking the last example, let’s say we don’t really want to need a ticket from Mexico back to the US to qualify for the roundtrip…

 

Well, I’ve got news. Unlike the old rules that required the last segment to be an international trip, the new rules just require that the last city is in the region of origin. In this case, the very last city we end in just has to be in the US region.

In other words, the last oneway segment can be a domestic flight.

 

New Example:

Let’s take the same example as above but modify the last segment.

So we start in New York and fly to Nairobi, Kenya, and then fly to Cape Town, South Africa.

What I tried was to add a domestic segment at the end.

EWR-NBO-CPT/WAS-ORD

How does it price?

  • EWR – NBO (in business class) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business class) = 0
  • WAS – ORD (in economy) = 10k

Total = 90k

Actually, the only reason I did WAS – ORD was to make it clear on the map that this was a different segment than the Africa trip. Because the first and last city are in the US, the trip qualifies for the one free segment.

 

The Goal

The real goal here is to get a stopover on a oneway by tacking on a cheap flight you can use later.

You’re paying 10,000 miles in this case to get the stopover in Africa. However, you can really set the domestic flight for any time, so you can have a date you can actually use.

And if you live in New York and thus started your Africa trip in NYC, you could totally end the trip by tacking on a DC to NYC flight months out. Or you could tack on a NYC to DC flight. Doesn’t matter which route or when, just as long as the last city is in the region of origin (in this case, the US).

 

 

Combining Trips

While the very last segment has to end in the US, you could totally make it a roundtrip.

In other words, you could tack on a roundtrip you’re planning to take later onto this trip Africa trip.

 

Example:

EWR – NBO – CPT / WAS – MEX – ORD

How does it price?

  • EWR – NBO (in business class) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business class) = 0
  • WAS – MEX (in economy) = 17.5K
  • MEX – ORD (in economy) = 17.5k

Total = 115k

 

Or course, you’d need a ticket from Cape Town (CPT) to get back to the US, but you could use a different set of miles.

The disadvantage of this is that your Mexico City (MEX) trip wouldn’t be allowed to have an additional free segment. You’re only allowed one free segment per booking. But if you booked the roundtrip to Mexico City as a separate booking, you could add a stopover.

But if you know that trip is going to be shorter, it might be worth to tack it on in order to get a free segment in Africa.

Point is, if you want to book a oneway with a stopover, you can tack on a different roundtrip as long as it ends in the US. This allows the earlier stopover, and you can book the later trips as far out as you want.

 

The Golden Goose

I just realized another implication. Let’s put it all together…

It started in a comment in yesterday’s post where someone lamented not being able to stopover in Europe on the way to Africa. And while that’s true, I thought of the next best way to do it.

 

US to Europe. Then Africa to Africa for free.

Remember the first segment in a single region is free.

Plus, you can open-jaw anywhere.

 

So I tried booking a flight to Europe, and then booking a flight within “South/Central Africa”. Plus, then tag on the 10k WAS – ORD to make it a roundtrip.

Sure enough, the US to Europe flight priced 30k, and then the Africa – Africa flight was free.

Let me show you…

 

Example:

EWR – BCN / DKR – CPT / WAS – ORD

How will it price?

  • EWR – BCN = 30k
  • DKR – (ADD -) CPT = 0
  • WAS – ORD = 10k

Total = 40k

 

The reason I picked BCN and DKR is because there is a OneWorld / Avios flight from MAD – DKR. It’s only 10,000 Avios.

But there are tons of other examples you can try. Or if you ever see a cheap flight to the Central / South Africa region, that could be another way to fill the gap.

(Obviously I could have booked EWR – MAD).

Therefore, a oneway to Cape Town with a stopover in Spain and Dakar is 40,000 miles: 30k UA miles and 10k BA Avios.

But it gets better…

 

The Business Class Version, and Why

If you didn’t know, United has two different award charts. One for United flights and another for Star Alliance Partners.

A business class to Africa is 70k on United, and 80k if a partner is involved on any segment. But the problem is that this route isn’t possible without partners.

Then business class to Europe is 57.5k on United and 70k on partners.

 

The brilliant part.

But the brilliant part here is 1) United prices Multi-City tickets segment by segment now, and 2) you could do the first leg on United (for the cheaper price) and get the second leg on a partner (more expensive) will be free!

 

Let me show you.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.50.10 AM

This shows a business class ticket to Cape Town (on Ethiopian) for 57.5k, when it would normally be 80k.

Obviously it’s not perfect because it needs another ticket to Dakar. But it’s an example, and it’s a start.

 

The Ethiopian segments:

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.49.55 AM

 

Updated map

Therefore the route would really look like this (Avios in green):

How will it price?

  • EWR – BCN (in business) = 57.5k (United miles)
  • MAD – DKR (in economy) = 10k (Avios)
  • DKR – CPT (in business) = 0
  • WAS – ORD (in economy) = 10k (United miles)

Total = 67.5k United miles and 10,000 BA Avios.

 

Let me be clear. To be a roundtrip you have to end in the US, but you could easily book a flight back from Cape Town. Cape Town to the US would be 40,000 United miles.

 

And the other thing to add is that this concept would work anywhere. US to Mexico and then a free flight within the Caribbean… or whatever.

 

Conclusion: The Big Concept

This works with all classes.

The same trips would have worked with other region combinations, the important thing is to end in the US (or wherever your region of origin was).

The trick today was that you get a stopover (or rather, a free segment) if you end in the same region you started in.

It doesn’t have to come from the same place as your destination, and it doesn’t have to be an international flight. The important thing is what the very last city in the booking is.

 

If you take the last post on the New United routing rules, and now this post, you’ll have all the tools you need to book an awesome ticket using United miles.

Next Monday I’ll give a post on some of the best and most creative stopover tickets you can now book with United miles.

 

I hope you’ll come back Monday to see the practical application of all these tricks!

 

Thanks much,
Drew

 

Dear Bloggers, just a reminder – if you are writing about a trick or rule that you read about on this blog, you *should* give a backlink and credit. Thanks.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

121 Comments

  1. You blew my mind. Never in a million years did I think there would be this great of a workaround to the new rules. The tacked on segment/rt really opens the United routing world again.

    Reply
    • 😀 Awesome!
      To be honest, I didn’t expect much would come out the new rules. Now I’m pretty excited about messing around with it.

      Reply
  2. So in the last example, you can’t stay in MEX for more than 24 hours, correct? Great stuff!

    Reply
    • Every example I gave was a genuine stop. Over 24 hours. As much time as you want.

      Reply
    • Then I think I’m confused as well. In the specific example you gave, you mention “The disadvantage of this is that your Mexico City (MEX) trip wouldn’t be allowed as a stopover if you book it with this other trip that already have a stopover. You’re only allowed one free segment per booking.”

      I take this to mean that because of the stopover in Africa, you wouldn’t be able to actually stay in MEX for longer than an international stop (24 hours). How would you be able to stay MEX for as long as you want?

      Reply
    • Thanks, I edited to hopefully make that section a little clearer.

      It isn’t a stopover because it’s a specific segment you’re paying for.

      What I mean is that you can NOT take your MEX roundtrip (that’s being tacked onto the Africa trip) and add a free segment / stopover. You already used the free segment in Africa.
      But any segment you pay for can have a stop as long as you want.

      Reply
  3. Thanks Drew. Looking forward to explore next Monday post and I will be set to book few more travel trips.. I am looking forward to explore more how we can manage cross region stuff as we were able to do before. Granted it isn’t allowed in new rules but I am sure you will have trick to reduce or nullify it for sure..

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • I actually added the last section since your comment… (The Golden Goose section).
      Hopefully I’ll think of more similar concepts.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Now it is interesting.. Thanks. I can only imagine that come next Monday, it would be more interesting. I am looking to book my 2017 trip and will wait till then.

      You rock compare to other blogger who really focusing on CC promotion. That’s why I always check and come on your blog as that is true travel blogging we are talking about.

      Thanks.

      Reply
    • It’s just trips using these tools. Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.
      I shouldn’t have built it up so much. 😀

      Thanks for the kind words!
      Drew

      Reply
  4. Brilliant,brilliant, brilliant! Wonderful job Drew. I didn’t think that tricks were going to be possible, but I underestimated you.

    Reply
    • Thanks JP! :-) I appreciate the encouragement! I hope it proves useful…

      Reply
  5. Very cool article! Time to play around and see what creative routes we can come up with. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Thank you for reading!
      Drew

      Reply
  6. Nice job, Drew! I suspected that the new redemption policy would be most valuable in large regions that don’t enjoy many fares from ultra-low cost carriers, but didn’t know where to start. Thanks for putting the pieces together to provide some tangible examples, as well as a strategy for major destinations that I want to visit in Sub-Saharan Africa…I’m really looking forward to Monday’s follow-up!

    Reply
    • Thanks Ed. Yeah, I think the most you save this way is 17.5k in economy, so perhaps the best bang is business in large regions (like the Africa example). But I think there are lots of interesting applications.

      Reply
  7. These posts are making me extra sad that I’m over 5/24. April of 2017 can’t come soon enough. Thanks a lot for all of this research.

    Reply
    • Hah. Yeah, I’m super low. Hopefully Carrie can get a CSR in branch. :-/

      Reply
  8. Really brilliant!
    I tried to do LAX-NRT, TPE-MNL and a dummy domestic flight. I managed to get LAX-NRT for 75K miles and TPE-MNL for 0 mile, but couldn’t get the last segment (We are unable to process your request…)

    Reply
    • What was the last segment?

      Reply
  9. great post, great ideas! more power to your blog!

    Reply
    • Thanks! :-)

      Reply
  10. You are such a genius, Drew!! You made my day.

    Reply
    • 😀 Thanks for the overly kind words! I appreciate the encouragement!

      Reply
  11. Most days I look at my miles and points Feedly and think, same old stuff, ho hum, and the I come across this, and that makes it all worthwhile. Just great.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • :-) Thanks Tony! I’m lucky there was good stuff to find!

      Reply
    • Totally agree!

      Reply
  12. Great stuff, as always!
    I haven’t noticed any wording on “layovers”. In the past one had been able to use the multi-city tool and piece together overnight layovers as long as they were less than 24 hours. I have played around with this and haven’t been able to do that anymore. Has anyone else tried this?

    Reply
    • True, I should add layover clarification in the Routing Rules post…
      But basically, any added segment is a paid segment. Layovers are now whatever the computer gives you. So that’s a major bummer for the Rapid Travel Chai types.

      Reply
  13. For the last example, why does the Africa segment not price as a separate segment, since the first leg is from US-to-Europe? I thought the free segment must be in Europe?

    Reply
    • Free segment can be any flight within the same “region”, can be ANY region. In his case it’s Africa-Africa. Since 1-way Africa-Africa Biz is cheaper than US-Europe, computer priced this first segment as the “excursionist stop”.

      Reply
    • Right, it must be in the same region, not a specific region.

      And the Africa-Africa biz is free because the previous segment is biz – doesn’t really matter if it’s cheaper or more expensive, btw. 😉

      Reply
    • I was puzzled also regarding the free segment in Africa, thank you for the clarification and thank you for your creativity.

      Reply
  14. Very, very cool! This would take some planning, but I just tried something out based on your Golden Goose section and it totally works: basically you can sandwich a single-region international one-way in between a regular ole domestic RT ticket. Not very practical if you view that domestic ticket as a RT, but if it’s the back half of 1 trip and the front half of a 2nd, then it starts to get more interesting. Looking forward to the follow-up!

    Reply
    • Yeah, exactly!
      I was trying to think of practical example of this while biking yesterday. lol But I’m trying not write 10 posts in a row on United…

      But totally. I think you could do ORD-WAS-ORD with a random segment somewhere. Like DKR – CPT. The interesting thing is that the segment in Africa would be nearly the same price as the roundtrip.

      Anyways, I did think of one REALLY cool example of this, but I still need to test it out. I will post it if it works. At least in the newsletter.

      Reply
  15. I have been waiting for you to post this 😀 . I knew you would. Can one of your next post highlight stopovers within a region that have the most value, i.e., longest, best airline/aircraft, etc? Thanks again for this amazing article.

    Reply
    • Thanks! :-)
      Yeah, I’m trying to not write 10 posts in a row on United alone… but I keep having ideas, so I’ll try to find a balance. 😀

      Reply
  16. Awesome! but I bet somewhere in the bowels of UA there are nerds scrambling to fix this…or will be soon. Let’s hope they’re slow to catch on.

    Reply
    • Idk. I wrote about way bigger older loopholes for 4 years, and I seriously doubt I was the reason they changed it. I mean, maybe MAYBE I had some impact on the tickets booked, but I doubt it was from reading this content.

      The other thing is that they are super cheap… so they only want to change their IT system once in a bluemoon.

      Reply
  17. Hi,

    I am looking at this route, SEA-TPE-DPS/LAX-SEA, and the trick works.

    But if I do SEA-DPS-TPE/LAX-SEA, it will calculate as 3 segments instead of 2 segment (DPS-TPE will not count as a free stopover) any idea why?

    thanks!

    Reply
    • TPE and DPS are not in the same region. TPE is North Asia, DPS is South Asia. Try HKG and DPS.

      Reply
    • This is actually really interesting!
      It’s true TPE and DPS are in different regions… but that’s why it’s odd that it was free on the LAX-TPE-DPS example.

      And I verified, it’s a free segment. It works.

      However I have yet to find another city in North Asia that allows this. Nor Japan.

      It seems to me that either:
      1) This is something they coded in because TPE is a hub and a natural stop.
      So they are allowing you to stop in TPE *on the way* to Southeast Asia. They allow it as a transit like stopover.

      However, why doesn’t it work with LAX-PVG-DPS, or LAX-PEK-DPS? No idea.

      So maybe it could also be,
      2) It’s an error. In which case there are other cross region segments surely being priced for free when they shouldn’t be.

      It seems odd because when I do LAX-NRT / TPE-DPS / XXX-LAX… it still gives TPE-DPS.
      So either way that segment is coded to be free. Makes no sense.

      Reply
  18. I am happy again thanks to you that I have accumulated massive amounts of Ultimate rewards. You are the BEST and creative blogger and in a league of your own! Thanks for all the work you do.

    Reply
    • 😀 Thanks so much for the super kind encouragement! I’m happy if it gets used. :-)

      Reply
  19. This is the Drew I know and love. You’re the man.

    Reply
    • 😀 Thanks David!
      You put a smile on a face.

      Reply
  20. This is great stuff. I used the old chart to go around the world on a round-trip ticket several times, and was disappointed the loophole was fixed. You did a great job finding ways to maximize the new chart!

    Reply
    • Yeah, I’m not claiming it’s as good as the old one… but there’s cool stuff.

      Reply
  21. Wow this is amazing! Very brilliant!

    Reply
    • Thanks!

      Reply
  22. So awesome that my next credit card application will be through your link! You already helped me create an amazing round-the-world trip for 3 in (mostly) business class for 145,000 (!!!) miles each before the devaluation. EWR-VIE (OS, stop, business), VIE-PVG (OS, stop, business), PVG-NRT (Who Cares, stop, economy) for 95,000 United miles, then NRT-HKG (CX, stop, business), HKG-EWR (CX, business) with 50,000 Alaska miles :)

    Reply
    • Awesome trip! Glad to help.
      And thanks much for the support and encouragement!!
      Drew

      Reply
  23. “The Golden Goose” is aptly named. I think you just killed it.
    You know all the airlines and credit cards companies now read every bog, every day, looking for exploits they can close. This post is exactly why they pay those people to spend all day surfing the blogs – it’s a cheap investment for their “loss prevention” teams. Are you sure you’re not on their payroll?

    Surely this one will be on the top of United’s list. Now its just a matter of time until they “fix this bug.” Tick tock.

    Reply
    • LOL
      Next time I’ll message you instead of telling everyone.

      Also, it’s a poor theory given that I’ve been writing about WAY crazier stopovers since 2012, and they just now made a change… which is arguably less frequently than other airlines change their IT/rules.

      4 years with crazier loopholes (like stopover in Japan on the way to Cape Town changing the price), I hardly see a sense of urgency or evidence that changes are correlated to me (again, been writing about these things since 2012/2011).

      Reply
  24. Bravo! Like I said over in the comments section of the first installment of this two-part keeper of a series, this is proactive blogging at its best. “Devaluations” are a fact of life for anyone who is going to play the miles/points game, but crying foul whenever a program “devalues” is an exercise in futility because I am not aware of single instance in which a “devaluation” was ever rescinded. In the end, we’ve always accepted the changes and adapted. Therefore, what travel bloggers need to do is to figure out the implications of a change for the loyalty game and then to inform their readers, as well as to suggest remedies that would lessen the sting — exactly what this two-part blogpost has done proactively!

    When we were told that UA’s latest “devaluation” made things as bad as DL’s, I’d written elsewhere: “I am nearly certain that once reports of people redeeming award travel on UA to various destinations and for varied itineraries start to pile up, the claim that the sky has fallen as a result of these rules changes will turn out to be a gross exaggeration, if not altogether bogus.”

    Maybe not “altogether bogus”, but definitely a “gross exaggeration”, and it some ways — like a more reliable multi-city award booking — things got even better!!!

    Kudos for emphatically making my point even sooner than I thought with just dummy bookings!

    Reply
    • I agree 100%. I’m guessing there’s psychology behind disliking something because of a devaluation, regardless of the fact it’s still better than other programs.
      You evaluate the program based on it’s previous state, not the current state.

      And yep. I’m not saying this is better (I don’t think it is), but it’s what we have! Let’s make the most of it. 😉

      Reply
  25. Nice post, thank you for going into details of the United mileage use. Keep it up!

    Cheers,

    PedroNY

    Reply
    • Thanks PedroNY! Glad hear from ya.
      Drew

      Reply
  26. What is your trick to getting ethiopian award space to show up on the united website? I can’t get it to show up at all, even though its showing on other sites like aeroplan.

    Reply
    • No trick I know of. It just showed up in a search. Perhaps there are awards that Aeroplan can see that UA can’t… no idea.

      Reply
    • I’m currently in Africa and transiting most flights via ADD. United does NOT currently show most Ethiopian award space (almost none in my experience). You must search on aeroplan.com and even then not all awards show up unless using the multi-city search.

      Reply
  27. Tried out TPE -> DPS -> HKG/LAX -> TPE calculating as 3 segments, but NRT -> DPS -> HKG/LAX -> NRT calculates as 2. I’m not entirely sure why.

    Reply
    • I can’t seem to find a combination starting out of TPE that seems to work.

      Reply
    • That’s because sometimes TPE thinks TPE is SE Asia. That’s why. So it thinks the DPS-HKG is in the region of origin (which isn’t allowed).

      It’s a bug I think.

      Reply
  28. You’re the greatest. Could the free segment transit a third region? e.g. Would it still be 0 miles if, say, your HKG-DPS one-way was on BR via TPE?

    Reply
    • Thanks!
      Well, TPE is an odd example because it’s buggy…
      But in short, you can’t route through a more expensive region. I’m guessing this part is similar to the old rules in terms what you can route through.

      Reply
  29. Amazing, Drew. Can’t wait for Monday’s post. Will I see any tricks originating in Asia?? 😉 Pretty badass work there.

    Reply
    • IDK, haven’t written it yet. 😀

      It works from anywhere… as long as your return there.
      In my notes I have stuff like BKK-AKL-SYD-SIN. Pretty basic but the AKL-SYD is free.

      And the “TYO-GUM (or YAP) – ROR – back to Japan” still 25k a person. Only 30k starting in North Asia.

      But otherwise the concepts will still apply. There’s a few more tricks too. There would be a REALLY cool one if I could get an intra Japan flight to show up…

      Reply
    • Yeah, the real winners seem like they’d start/end in another region. If there are 3 legs — outbound, free, and return — is it true that “free” must always be cost less miles than outbound or return?

      Seems like there might be even cheaper possible “return” segments (is intra-Japan 7.5k?), and it might be wise to produce a table of region-to-region redemptions by mile-cost (“A”), and another table of intra-region redemption by mile-cost (“B”), and a third table intra-region by value/distance (“C”). Then to maximize you could do the following steps:
      first, pick from “B” any origins that have low intra-region awards (for a possible dummy leg); and second, identify high-value “free” intra-regions from “B”; and third, identify which entries in the region-to-region table (“A”) are marginally more than the mileage cost from table (“C”). Or, swap steps 1/2 to provide a different maximization.

      Reply
  30. Can you figure out a way to get a stopover in Japan or South Korea on the way to or from SE Asia? Losing this stopover is a big disappointment for me. I have often stopped in Japan. when flying ANA to SE Asia or stopped in Seoul when flying Asiana on award vacation trips. If I’m going to travel the long hours to the other side of the Pacific I like to fit in 2 countries in one trip.

    Reply
    • You can apparently stopover in TPE… Fly EVA.

      Unfortunately, the only way would be to do an open-jaw and take another segment to get to SE Asia.
      Like:
      usa – NRT / HKG – DPS – usa.

      Reply
  31. You. Are. The. Man! I am working on a family trip for next year to Asia and Jordan when your post appeared in my feedly. I thought I was going to be short on miles – not anymore. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sweet. :-) Yeah, you might have to oneway it if you’re short.
      Although the Asia to Jordan would be an extra 35k, which is a bummer.

      Reply
  32. Top Top post. Got to swing by here more often

    Reply
    • Thanks! Please do. :-)

      Reply
  33. you’re back!!!!! :)

    Reply
    • I said that before, but I think it’s true this time! 😀 Life is a little calmer now, and ironically, less travel helps.

      Reply
  34. Going back and reading most of your work over 2 years ago is how I learned this game. My family has seen a lot of the world because of your work. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I live in Hawaii. Following on your example I did (all in economy):

    HNL-NBO – 50k
    NBO-CPT – 0k
    HNL-OGG – 6k

    Even if I don’t want to go to Maui it seems like I will always be able to add stopovers for just 6k miles.

    Reply
    • Shh. Monday.

      😀
      Exactly.

      Well, thank you for reading! I appreciate it, and I’m glad things here have been helpful!
      Drew

      Reply
  35. I have an award ticket booked for IAH>KHI (it priced it out as a stop over in ATL and ISB) for 80k award miles in business.

    I’ve been messing with the website and have been trying multiple locations but none come up as 0 points.

    I am putting my domestic flight as EWR>IAH

    What could I be doing wrong?

    Thanks

    Reply
  36. This is incredible!

    But I still don’t understand why the Africa-Africa segment is free if the first part of the itinerary is priced as US-Europe, and the return trip (after a monster open jaw) is US-US. In any case, can you just substitute Asia-Asia instead of Africa-Africa?

    Reply
    • I’ll answer my own question– yes, the Asia-Asia segment will be free. I just did EWR-BCN, TPE-NRT, ORD-EWR (all segments in J) and it priced to 95K (the EWR-BCN segment was on LH).

      Reply
    • Good to know. It is interesting. I think Japan and Taiwan should be in different region defined by United. And the free segment is not allowed from one region to another.

      Reply
  37. The last example in biz for 67.5k United miles and 10,000 BA Avios is just awesome. Didn’t know it would be this cheap for all the travels in biz.. Thanks.

    Reply
  38. good stuff Drew.

    has anyone else noticed that UA’s website is only showing UA TATL award space & no partners?

    also, is there now no way at all to book SQ using UA miles?

    thanks

    Reply
    • “has anyone else noticed that UA’s website is only showing UA TATL award space & no partners?”

      I haven’t noticed that. I picked a random date for EWR-BCN (11/2) and LH J seats are available.

      Reply
  39. Still trying to fully understand this. It seems the origin and destination of the “free” segment have to be within the same region. For example, I tried BKK-MUC (55K), LAX-SFO (0K), SGN-BKK (17.5K). But if I do BKK-MUC, LAX-HNL, SGN-BKK (replaced SFO with HNL), then UA charges 22.5K for the LAX-HNL segment. If this was obvious to everybody else, then I need to read the post again.

    Reply
    • Hawaii is a different region from Mainland US/Canada/Alaska, so it wouldn’t price out as free.

      Reply
  40. Hey Drew! Thanks for this gem of a post. I have enjoyed reading your stuff over the last few years, in particular because of the meticulous way you dissect programs; of course you’d find this first! Anyway, I have compiled some information about best city-pairs for the new free one-way, which is something a few people had asked for in this comment section. I plan to do more, but I thought I’d start with the Americas and Europe, since the obvious potential of Africa and Asia seems to be getting most of the attention so far. Hopefully this will be a beneficial resource to you and your readers: http://www.thorpetravelsite.com/travel-blog/2016/10/hacking-the-new-united-award-system-the-longest-star-alliance-flights-within-a-single-region

    Reply
  41. thank you … you made my day! this is absolutely brilliant, and i look forward to trying it out sometime soon.

    Reply
  42. Nice work Drew! Did you notice that you can’t get the Excursionist Perk if the perked route requires a transit through a 3rd zone? All of the southern Oceania routes need a transit through AKL which is a different zone. Also you can’t use Copa to transit Panama between Caribbean Islands (SJU-PTY-CUR) or northern South America (LIM-PTY-GEO).

    Reply
  43. Hi Drew,

    Maybe for the next post you can do some nesting examples? I just thought you could probably tie all the “randomness” together to create full itineraries, though you would wind up with 3 full trips but the middle trip would count as the free “excursionist” in either direction?

    Anyway, this is great and good job! I agree that you should just adapt and move on.

    Reply
    • Hi Vir. I have given a nesting example for economy and business in my most recent blog post. The point-savings was between 16-33% versus regular booking, depending on whether the flights were economy or business. I plan to explore one or two other options, but I think the benefits will be similar. You can find the example in the post I linked to a few comments up this page if you’d like to see what I’d like to do.

      Reply
  44. There is no way to get around the rule that the stopover has to fall (in time/ dates) between the other legs, right? LIke I couldn’t do ORD–> Munich, Munich to US, then a month later, Munich to Madrid?

    Reply
  45. Are there an negative repercussions of skipping the “return” flight (ie, domestic)? Or can I actually cancel it and get the miles back (and pay fee)? Would this make United retroactively charge for the free segment?

    Reply
  46. I need help using United Miles for a trip from IAD->SFO->HNL->IAD
    OR IAD->HNL->SFO->IAD. Can someone please suggest how I can maximize my miles using MultiDestination?

    Reply
  47. So what happens if after you do the main trip you simply cancel or don’t show up for the shorter trip that gets your trip to end in the region in which you started?

    Reply
  48. Genius. Pure genius.

    Reply
  49. Thanks for such a thorough look into this! I’m not sure why but I can’t seem to get it to price out the same when searching. I tried your example above of EWR-BCN, DKR-CPT, WAS-ORD. I only got 70K miles options (on saver business) for EWR-BCN. Were you able to find a flight on United metal and not partner airlines — is that what accounts for the discrepancy?

    Reply
  50. Great Stuff

    Reply
  51. regarding your EWR – BCN / DKR – CPT / WAS – ORD, I was looking at something similar after someone sent me your first article on this. I was trying to do EWR-LON (J) then BJL-JNB (J)then any short leg in the US (Y). Also if you use the same approach to returning to the US you could get quite an adventure for reasonable miles…. I need to get my head around this

    Reply
  52. Also using the EWR – BCN / DKR – CPT / WAS – ORD example, I’m assuming that the stop in ADD has to be max 24 hrs.

    Reply
  53. Hi Drew,

    Thank you so much for this trick! would you please take a look on the example
    EWR – BCN (in business) = 57.5k (United miles)
    MAD – DKR (in economy) = 10k (Avios)
    DKR – CPT (in business) = 0
    WAS – ORD (in economy) = 10k (United miles) <— this last segment ALWAYS come up as 25k instead of 10K

    I don't know what I did wrong but on the last segment always calculate as 25k??? can you tell me what i did wrong? I try the date for in July 2017 thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Lee. Sounds to me like there either isn’t saver award space or that you selected business class for the WAS-ORD segment.

      Reply
    • Hi Trevor yes you are correct, and I able to get it work on a different route thank a lot!

      Reply
  54. Could you show an example from the US to Australia? I was thinking SFO to SYD then SYD to CNS, then LA to SFO but I haven’t been able to get it to show me anything.

    Reply
    • As now award availability needs to be shown on the UA website (if doing multitrip) all you need to do is check each individual segment first on UA to determine award availability. I just checked and there is currently no award availability for SYD to CNS.

      Reply
  55. I think I may be missing how exactly this trick sames money or miles. You said it yourself “Or course, you’d need a ticket from Cape Town (CPT) to get back to the US, but you could use a different set of miles.” Since I have to get back to USA anyway why bother with the Mexico trip if I can just add a United segment back home. So this trick a good theoretical reading but how does it save you money? I guess I am missing something.

    Reply
  56. Does the free one-way have to be 1 segment only or can it have connecting flights?

    Reply
    • It’s not that simple! 1) Scott at MileValue first wrote about United free one-ways in 2012, which I believe is before this great blog got started. 2) He links to this website in his post. I’ve been following both of these guys for almost as long as they’ve been around, and while MileValue is definitely more commercial, I’ve never seen either site use another’s content without referencing it.

      Reply
  57. Drew, if I need more than one segment in each of the origin and destination region — is there still a possibility of getting a free perk flight in addition?

    If I am already say YYJ-YVR-ICN-BKK-ICN-YVR-YYJ at 80000, is there still any room for an additional perk flight — or does the perk allowance really come in when one has used only a single segment in each direction?

    Thank you

    Thank you

    Reply
  58. I tried to simulate the multi city example EWR-BCN, DKR-CPT with same dates…Its asking for 35K between DKR-CPT for business class…What am I doing wrong?

    Reply
  59. Hello – this is all wonderful advice. I just redeemed a 130,000 mile one-way first award IAD-(NH)-NRT-(TG)-BKK-(TG)-KUL. What would be the most outrageous this you would suggest I could do with this? Would I need to add a stopover within Asia and then something like DFW-IAD? If I really don’t need any additional travel in Asia is it worth it to utilize the Excursionist Perk? I’m a 1K so fees wouldn’t apply for a reissue.

    Reply
  60. Hi. I just read your post on United and have a question. I am new to all this. I just booked round trip on United for three of us, using a lot of points. The RT is EWR-LAS-EWR. Are you saying I can add a free segment, let’s say EWR-ORD for free as an added segment, to be used at a later date? Please let me know. I would love to take advantage of this trick! Many thanks, and hope I am understanding what you’ve written.

    Reply
    • Tis excursion only applies to international travel, not domestic.

      Reply
  61. As a 1K member… is it possible to cancel the last leg after the excursionist leg is complete? Looking at below…

    NRT->ORD: 65k business
    EWR->SFO: free as excursionist (25k business)
    HND->NRT: 5k economy

    However I likely would not end up taking the HND->NRT flight. As a 1K member, after completing the first two legs, could I cancel the last one to get 5K miles back? or even if just forfeit the 5k miles (hence still getting 20k in value for free)?

    Reply
  62. I wanted to ask about whether or not it was possible to call in with one of these maxed-out routings. I want to visit a destination that’s new to staralliance and the airport isn’t in united’s system (yet – though its been been in the network for months.) Agents on the phone can making bookings to that airport. But will speaking to someone be an issue?

    Reply
  63. I continually get error message trying to search for a flight within Japan, whether it’s for a separate one-way award (which should show as 5,000 for routes under 800 miles), or a free “excursion” as part of a multi-city (RT) international award. Anyone having luck with that?

    Reply
  64. Hi Drew, I’ve been following your United tips for years since before the new rules. My daughter (who was born in Jan 2014), traveled to over 30 countries by the time she was 18 months old with your help! We’ve been super busy with life for the past year and haven’t done as much travel, but we’re looking to get back in the game this year. I thought the “excursionist perk” would really disincentive me from investing the time to plan our crazy round the world trips every year (ok, no African/Latin hoppers, so not that crazy), but clearly there is still arbitrage here. Thanks for kicking @$$ in life and sharing your tips with us! You’re awesome!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

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

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

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

SIGN UP: NEWSLETTER