5 Crazier United Mile Stopover Tickets

I promised today I’d post stopovers that were less practical. This is just looking at United stopover examples, rather than focusing on the rules.

If you want to see the rules, please check out New United Stopover Rules, and check out United Stopover Tricks.

 

However, late last night a lot of the loopholes that allowed you to not return to your region of origin, and change the order of events… suddenly died.

Although I wasn’t going to be explicit about anything, some of the rule changes affect some of my examples. The good news is that everything in my previous posts are still valid.

1) Start/end with intra-Hawaii

Intra Hawaii flights are 6,000 United miles.

Fly the first segment, and now you’re eligible for a free flight anywhere in the world.

Tack on an intra-Africa flight for free, which would normally be 17.5k.

Or tack on a free intra-Middle East for 20k.

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 1.11.53 PM

 

Basically you pay 12k, but you get a free flight elsewhere.

 

Start in Hawaii to US

You could do Hawaii – USA / free flight somewhere / HNL – OGG.

Intra Hawaii is just the cheapest flight to tack on to something.

 

* Note that you could do a similar thing with starting in Japan. Intra Japan flights are 8k.

 

2) Start in Hawaii to Japan or Oceania

One of the best deals, especially for premium cabin, is Hawaii to Japan or Oceania (like GUM, YAP (aka Yap), ROR).

  • On UA partners: Hawaii – Japan / Oceania = 25k/50k/80k
  • On UA flights: Hawaii – Japan / Oceania = 25k/40k/62.5k

 

So if you fly United from HNL (Hawaii) to YAP (Yap), your free flight could be MNL-DPS… and then you tack on OGG-HNL.

 

The entire thing in Business Class (with HNL-OGG in economy), would be 45,000 United miles. Which I think is pretty good in business.

 

Again, this would have been the same if it was HNL to Japan, or Guam.

 

BTW! Why not include the YAP-MNL flight on the ticket?

The problem is that you’ll have to go back and book the YAP-MNL? Or Japan-MNL? There’s still that gap.

Or you could have chosen to use your free segment in a cheaper region to get to, like North Asia.

But then why not just book the segments all together at once, instead of going back and booking a different flight to connect the open-jaws?

Well, there are two reasons.

 

1) The free segment is allowed to be in the class of the previous segment.

So if it was worth it to pay 40k to fly business across the Pacific, then you might as well make your free flight your next flight. Make sense?

Because now your intra-South Asia flight can be free in business.

 

If you were to fly all economy, it wouldn’t matter.

 

2) If it’s cheaper not to use United miles.

If there was a route where you could get a super cheap flight, or use Avios, or something, why use United?

While you can book all of it together and it will just price out each segment, those are the two reasons I see to leave a gap in the ticket and to make these big open-jaws.

 

3) Polynesia (Oceania) – North Asia – Micronesia (Oceania)

One of the most interesting routes is going from Polynesia to Micronesia. I say this having done it in early 2012. It still tempts me.

But this is different than what we did (barely), because the stopover is in Asia instead of New Zealand.

 

The reason I love this ticket is because, it’s just stupid cheap. It’s a ton of flying, it’s some of the hardest places to get to, and it’s the cheapest price. Crazy odd, but good, combination.

Here is the price to go all the way from Rarotonga to Mongolia.

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 1.57.26 PM

 

I personally would be more interested in Fiji (I liked Fiji more than Rarotonga (although the snorkeling is great – we saw a huge moray eel!)), and I’m not sure Rarotonga to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the easiest combination…

But it’s an example, and still a great one.

 

So tack on the free intra North Asia segment:

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 1.54.59 PM

It would have been 30k in business.

 

Here’s what it looks like (RAR-ULN-TPE-GUM):

The entire thing in economy would be 30k, and in business 60k.

Although the real trick is to do everything from RAR to Hong Kong in Business, and then do HKG to GUM in economy. That would come out to 45k.

 

4) The African Hopper

This example was in my previous post (7 Practical United Stopovers), but I’m going to try to make it a little less practical. And, it’s just so good I thought I’d mention it twice.

 

This is: North Africa – Central/Southern Africa – Central/Southern Africa – North Africa.

It comes out to 35k for economy, and 70k for business.

But look at the route:

So maybe it’s worth the business class… at least for the first half.

 

What I searched was LPA – CPT – SEZ – LPA.

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 2.23.04 PM

 

Variations

In fact, there could have been many many variations. I picked a pretty crazy route, because I think Cape Town is incredible, and I imagine Seychelles would be amazing. And why not? The flight between the two is free!

But what makes this route all the more reasonable and feasible, is the definition of North Africa.

 

For United’s award chart, North Asia includes:

As I mentioned Monday, the follow airline mileage programs consider these as Europe:

  • AA considers Canary Islands as Europe
  • FlyingBlue considers Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Canary Islands as Europe
  • Singapore considers Canary Islands as Europe

 

4b) Make stopovers with Africa even crazier

 

Remember, we get unlimited open-jaws. Let’s use them.

But first let’s know of the most reasonable ways to fly within Africa.

 

OneWorld fillers

Here is the OneWorld route map for flights within Africa, out of JNB:

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 2.35.52 PM

Availability can be limited on some routes, but it gives some great options.

 

American AAdvantage Miles

For AA miles, flights within Africa are 10k/17.5k.

That is a great price… because the options are limited to the relatively short flights in the picture above.

 

British Airways Avios

Check out the Avios Map (via wandr.me)

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 2.40.53 PM

As you can see you can get around on direct flights for super cheap. Some flights that require connection might be cheaper with AA miles.

 

Since it’s actually considered a British Airways flight, the good news is that I was able to get off-peak price for JNB to MRU. Bad news is that it came with $147 in fees! But for that flight, I’d say it’s still a good deal.

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 2.44.05 PM

 

Putting it all together

Of course, you can do land transit… just not for Mauritius or Seychelles. Or you can find cheap flights for short popular flights like CPT to JNB.

 

Here’s a new version of the route with open-jaws:

  • Start in Casablanca, Morocco (CMN)
  • Fly to Cape Town (CPT) – for 17.5k UA miles
  • 10k AA miles to get to Mauritius (MRU)
  • MRU – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADD) – free segment with UA
  • Open-jaw, so the ticket continues from Nairobi, Kenya (NBO)
  • Return to Tunis, Tunisia (TUN) – for 17.5k UA miles

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.10.11 PM

Just the United part of this flight would look like this:

 

In United miles, the entire thing would come out to 35,000 miles.

 

5) Latin Hopper with open-jaws

Again, this is a variation of a route I’ve long talked about, and we did something similar in 2013… I think.

The observation is that flights within Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, and Northern South America, are all 10,000 miles.

This “roundtrip” should come out to 20,000 miles.

I’ll roll through this since I’ve talked about it so much. Previously I showed an example of this with the Galapagos, but to do it with more open-jaws, I’ll keep it mainland.

 

Route:

  • Start in Belize City (BZE)
  • Fly into Bogota (BOG)
  • Fly out of Cartagena (CTG)
  • Fly into Cusco (CUZ)
  • Fly out of Arequipa (AQP)
  • End by flying into San Jose (SJO)

Total = 20k UA miles

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.25.13 PM

 

And you actually get to visit, I think, the most number of cities possible for 20,000 miles.

 

Conclusion

Remember, you can always do variations of these starting from your home. And you can always do oneway versions by tacking on a flight for later, for 10,000 miles (or 12.5k).

Again, see United Stopover Tricks.

 

Beyond that, this list of routes could go on forever and ever.

Maybe, I’ll do some more of a different type, if people aren’t tired of this.

Either way, I hope something here was actually usable.

Related Posts:

58 Comments

  1. Drew, This is incredible! Thank you for all the efforts in trying to figure out the rules…and then sharing with us. You continue to put out one great post after another. I just wish I had the vacation days to use these tricks.

    Reply
    • 😀 Thanks Jimmy!

      Reply
    • my African hopper are as following:)
      Booked for the 05-04 to 20-04 2017 with United miles in Economy for 35K United miles.

      CMN-CAI-ADD-GABORONE/CPT-JNB-ACC-ADD-IST-FRA-TUN skiping the last legg 35k miles and 220US$ in taxes.
      my flight to CMN would be a Ryanair flight Bratislava-Mad- TNG for 75$ and then taking the train for 8$ to Casablanca.

      Reply
  2. These analyses are fantastic! I’m never going to get tired of your posts, thank you for putting in the time and effort to de-mystify all these crazy new award rules!

    Reply
    • Great! Thanks for letting me know!

      Reply
  3. Too bad they already nerfed made a nerf I found some really cool stuff yesterday that is no longer any good.

    Reply
    • Yeah, I didn’t book anything… and I figured it would last longer.
      … oh well.

      Reply
  4. I hope the changes you saw last night aren’t an indication that UA is going to tighten up any further.

    Loving these posts though, great inspiration and insight!

    Reply
    • Thanks!

      I don’t think so. I think they realized they had bugs that were wildly outside of what their rules indicated.

      Reply
  5. Thanks for all the great tips!

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  6. Once again, bloggers love to kill tricks. (claps)

    Reply
    • Like?

      So 1) What trick died? And point me to the blog post that wrote about the dead trick?

      And 2) Where did you learn of these tricks?

      As always, all the angries knew about it looooong before the killer blogs posted about it. *rolls eyes*

      Reply
  7. great posts.

    There appears to some good opportunities for hidden city ticketing here on the last leg to book into one region but jump off in another

    Reply
    • I guessed you didn’t get the last newsletter, but I did an analysis of possible boomerang routes.

      Reply
    • Hi Drew,

      Do you have a repository of old newsletters? I signed up but didn’t see the last newsletter.

      Thanks for taking the time to put all this together!

      Reply
  8. I had a sweet deal last night and waiting until today to book, now it’s coming up error even though the pricing works right. Did the US origin/return die too?

    Reply
    • Yep. :-(
      Depends what you’re referring to.
      One thing was that the region of origin could have been in any segments destinations boxes. Like even if your first segment was WAS-ORD, it would allow the free segment because it saw the region of origin in a destination box…
      Anyways… that totally died too.

      Reply
  9. I can’t believe you haven’t been to the Seychelles! You need to get there. It is absolutely incredible.

    Reply
    • I know, I know. I try not to look at pictures… it’s too tempting. 😀

      Reply
  10. Incredible. Nice.

    Reply
    • Thanks! :-)

      Reply
  11. Hey Drew… This stuff just keeps getting better. Bummer about the stuff they killed, but these ideas are fantastic. With the Africa itineraries, how are the layovers looking for you? It would be nice to build long layovers into these routes, but we can’t do it manually anymore. Is the search returning any respectable layover times in the African cities?

    Reply
  12. This is why I never complain about the rule change as I knew it would open new opportunities.

    Reply
    • 😉 Yeah, it worked out well.

      Reply
  13. Using these tricks how can I get free segment from Hawaii to New York? Where should I start my journey from? Should my first flight be from Hawaii or US?Any help will be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hawaii to NYC will not price as a free segment, because United defines Hawaii as its own region. The free segment must be completely within one region.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the information Jesse.
      I just checked and find out this route would work like this….
      HNL – OGG / LAX – NYC (free segment) / OGG – HNL.

      Reply
  14. Will routes like this allow seeing the most number of airports? Or is it still possible to find layovers for less than 24 hours and use them to go see the cities?

    Reply
  15. has anyone seen any award availability from VVO within the same region?

    Reply
  16. This is why you are my favorite travel blogger. Post like these are so incredibly helpful!

    I just love the RAR-ULN combo. Such a crazy mix of destinations!

    Reply
    • :-) Thanks Ian! I appreciate the kind words and encouragement!
      And I hope you actually fly it!!! Someones got to. 😀

      Reply
  17. basically the free excursionist leg cannot be at the end of the itinerary anymore? great blog! bookmarked for travel!

    Reply
    • That is one of the things that died.

      Reply
  18. Hey Drew,

    Awesome post. We just had a trip to Yap and Palau using United stopovers and had an amazing time. I hope to write a post about it soon.

    You talked about using Avios to fly from Johannesburg (JNB) to Mauritius (MRU). I booked this exact flight for travel early next year. However, I noticed that the taxes/fee’s for some of the accounts I manage come out to costing $44 a person for all of British Airway’s (Comair’s) flight in southern Africa and some of them have the high taxes and fee’s you mentioned above. I have not yet been able to get to the bottom of why this is happenijng but was wondering if you have any ideas why? I wrote a post about it below if you want to get more background.

    http://www.travelbeet.com/british-airways-pricing-glitch/

    Best,
    Pete

    Reply
    • Interesting. Would love to see a Yap / Palau write up.

      For the Avios… yeah, odd. I wonder if it’s about how the flight is marked? I don’t know why it would be different each time.

      Reply
  19. 1. I can’t even get the site to price an intra-Hawaii flight, is anyone else having this issue?
    2. When I could price an intra-Hawaii flight it was for economy only, but I believe in the past I’ve been able to book business & first. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to book business or first intra-Hawaii?

    Reply
    • I haven’t had an issue with intra-Hawaii, but I don’t think there are any flights with business. I think I checked all the combinations too. That would be amazing if there was…

      Reply
    • Drew,
      I have a question that involves Hawaii and am wondering if you could provide some insight based on the new rules. I have already booked a 1 way from OGG- mainland, but it is around the holidays so we are stuck with two standard awards at 45k. I am 1k so changes and redeposits dont have a big impact. I am wondering if I can/it makes sense to tack on a speculative booking, say (futuredate)AMS-LPA & (futuredate) OGG-HNL. This prices out to 51k miles but provides the AMS-LPA segment free. I can get it to price correctly, but my question is around the speculative booking. Once the itinerary begins, are there restrictions on the changes that can be made? As a 1k would there be a fee to change a. the dates of the AMS-LPA leg b.the origin (a change like FRA-LPA) c. the destination AMS-HER
      Basically I am trying to extract some value out of the 45k 1way hawaii-mainland that I know I am already grossly overpaying for. Cash tickets are too expensive for these dates, so I am at peace with the mileage spend and only trying to maximize the value.

      Reply
  20. This post just blew my mind! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • :-) Glad you enjoy it. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  21. Thanks for spelling out what I’m not smart enough to figure out!!

    Reply
    • Hah. I’m glad if it was helpful.
      Obviously nothing to do with smarts, this is just where I spend a lot of time.

      Reply
  22. Thanks Drew!

    Question, when I search on United.com, I’m getting different results if I search the same route one way vs. multi city. I’m seeing biz class space that I would like if I search one way, but when I try to book it multi-city, the biz class is not coming up. Any tips?

    Reply
    • Right.
      This is unfortunate. Changing any leg – destination or date – could change the results on your segment. Its weird.
      If it’s tame you can call.

      Reply
  23. > However, late last night a lot of the loopholes that
    > allowed you to not return to your region of origin,
    > and change the order of events… suddenly died

    As I said before, you publicizing these exploits immediately leads to them being closed down. Yet you scoff at the idea.

    I know you are hard-wired to post everything you can, to drive clicks and your personal revenue, but you’ve gotta see that they (the airlines) are now reading every blog post every day, and simply using that as their research to close exploits. Every time you publicize something, that just hastens its death. This is a perfect example. Of course you will deny this.

    Reply
    • I mean this in the most sincere and non-offensive way possible:

      But you should be especially slow to being angry and negative when you’re uninformed or ignorant about something.

      As to the facts.
      Nothing that has died is anything remotely close to what I posted about. And I posted about a lot of things… so it’s interesting that they’ve made changes since my posts, and didn’t change anything I posted about. Which is continual evidence that they don’t care about me.

      But let’s stick to facts (please):
      Of the things that died, 1) name one of the tricks that is no longer bookable (be specific), and then 2) show the post where I wrote about it. Also be specific, maybe quote a sentence or section.

      There is no example. So what the heck are you talking about?

      Reply
    • Where did Art go? Drew, keep doing what you’re doing. If people don’t it that bloggers post these loopholes, they should go to the Trick It forums and fly under the radar. Airlines know that there are loopholes and mistakes. But they also know that the vast majority of people with miles, won’t spend the time to figure out the loopholes, much less be patient to wait to book a flight. And one more thing while I’m on this soapbox, Drew “hardwired to post everything” he can to drive clicks and personal revenue? Have you looked at the other blogs? At least 1 post each day centered around you opening a credit card with their link–I personally don’t have a problem with that. That’s how they feed their habit, as well as their families. I just look at their site less frequently. But to lump Drew in all that?!? That’s not him. He’s a voice for the people. No special interest groups–well maybe except Carrie.

      Reply
  24. Drew, I think I found a trick that I want to show you. May I have your email or can you email me? I hope you can see my email when I enter it for making a post.

    Reply
  25. Hello Drew,

    Attempting to fly out of HNL or LIH and then to DC, unfortunately, various combinations did not work. Any advice or is this gone?

    Reply
  26. Hey Drew, I LOVE your posts and trying to figure out how to do the Central American/Caribbean hopper with either an OJ or stopover in the US since I am from Panama and have to go often, I can’t even figure out any tricks to get any free segments or cheaper access to PTY.
    So far, I have just considered flying out of Puerto Rico or Punta Cana to PTY, but once I add the US to any of the legs, it charges normal points, no freebie ;(
    Any ideas???? My departure airports are either JAX or MCO.

    Reply
  27. so just to understand example #1 correctly, it works because it explicitly meets these 3 stated things:
    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.

    (both segments must meet 3)

    and i can apparently do this anywhere? if i want to go from chicago to new orleans and also berlin to paris i should do
    ORD-MSY + free BER-CDG
    then on a separate ticket
    MSY-ORD + free CDG-BER

    now i essentially bought 2 “domestic” tickets for the price of 1? is that a proper understanding??

    Reply
  28. Drew,

    Thank you so much for this. I was quite depressed that I missed the mid-october window to book my US-NZ rt with stopovers in Bali and Fiji.
    This gives me hope!

    I have one question. I am using UA miles to fly Bali (DPS) – NZ roundtrip. I want to avail of the free one way, but will possibly only use it a few months after the rest of the trip. What options do I have?

    For instance, I would fly
    March 1 – DPS – AKL
    April 1 – AKL – DPS

    I would love to add a one way leg in South America to this, but realistically would not complete that till September of 2017.

    Do I have an out?

    Reply
  29. Hi Drew, your posts are really informative! But being a novice, I’m still scratching my head… :/
    Trying to do a big trip this summer: NY-Beijing-Osaka-Singapore-Cologne-NY, and what’s more complicated is that I will take our daughter to Asia first and come back to NY solo, then my husband picks her up a couples of weeks later, then all three of us meet in Cologne and come back to NY together.
    We have a ton of Chase points and some SPG, but don’t know how to maximize them. Given that our dates and destinations are not very flexible, perhaps there isn’t much we can do… Would appreciate any suggestions/advice! Thanks a ton!

    Reply
  30. Funnily enough I’ve had the same problem. Must be a technical glitch. weird because LPA…..LPA prices and CMN…CMN both price as they should

    Reply
  31. FYI on UA it was reading LPA as in Spain (Europe) instead of North Africa – I’ve asked tech support to fix

    Reply
  32. They still haven’t fixed this …… annoying

    Reply
  33. It’s a good thing for a lot of us. You can get a free oneway from Europe to LPA.

    Reply

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