Tons of mileage programs allow stopovers, which is the ability to add extra stops to your ticket for no extra mileage cost. Plus, stopovers can be as long as you want. Personally, I love writing about booking stopovers because my goal is to see as much of the world as I can.
The idea for this post actually came from an older smaller post that became quickly outdated with some program changes. Basically, I want to go through 7 different mileage programs and brain storm cool stopover routes that you could recreate if you have the same miles. Or better yet, hopefully take away the concepts and use them to create your own dream trip using miles.
To see what credit cards can earn each of these airline miles, check out the master chart of each credit card that can earn miles, by airline.
Note: all tickets will be roundtrip
Alaska Miles Stopovers
1) Two Stopovers to Australia for 82,500 miles
I recently wrote about the Best Use of Alaska Miles, and one of my favorite parts of Alaska Miles (which are already amazing) is that they allow stopovers on oneways. But one way or another you can get two stopovers on a roundtrip, even if you book separate tickets.
One great route I noticed was the ability not only to fly on Fiji Airways, but to stopover in Fiji on your way to Australia or New Zealand. One of my favorite places on earth are the farflung islands in Fiji that require a decent boat ride (there are a ton of fast ferries selling tickets at the main port).
But what’s better is that on your way back you could stopover in Auckland, Sydney, or Melbourne on the way back.
So the ticket would stopover in Fiji on the way to New Zealand and a stopover in Sydney on the way back. 3 great destinations for only 82,500 miles. And business class would only be about 55,000 each direction, which might be worth it on the longer way back if you can book on Qantas.
Also, if you wanted to be crazier you could leave an open-jaw so that you return from a different destination than you ended the first one way in. For example you could fly to Perth with a stopover in Sydney. And then return back from Melbourne, stopping in Fiji on your way back. Then you could fill in the gap with a ticket using Avios or discount airline.
Ways to Earn Alaska Miles:
- Check out this post on Alaska Elite Status if you do paid flights
- Or check out this post on applying for Alaska credit cards
Read more: Best Use of Alaska Miles
Lufthansa Miles Stopovers
2) Two stopovers in South America for 60,000
Lufthansa has a hit/miss award chart, but they have very generous stopover rules – two stopovers and two open-jaws. The problem is that fuel surcharges are outrageous.
However, you could do two stopovers and two open-jaws in South America and avoid all the fuel surcharges. So if you find the Star Alliance availability, this could be a great ticket.
3) Hawaii to Oceania for 40,000 miles
It occurred to me that Lufthansa’s award chart is messed up. However, in this case it plays to your advantage. Here’s the irony…
- US to Australia/Oceania = 100,000 miles roundtrip
- US to Hawaii = 40,000 miles roundtrip, and
- Hawaii to Australia/Oceania = 40,000 miles roundtrip
This means booking two tickets (one to Hawaii and then one to Oceania) is 80,000 miles instead of 100,000 miles. By booking two tickets instead of one, you save 20,000 miles and double the amount of stopovers possible.
However, Lufthansa charges 100,000 miles for a ticket that touches three regions. So routing through Asia isn’t an option. And while there are plenty of Star Alliance options from the US to Hawaii, Hawaii to Oceania is limited.
From Hawaii you can go to:
- New Zealand (good luck finding availability)
- Guam (great availability)
- The Island Hopper
But from Guam, there are a few more options:
- Cairns (on Sundays and Thursdays)
- Koror, Palau
These are pretty epic islands. I would love to do Yap and Palau. So you could have a stopover in Guam, destination in Palau, and the stopover on the way back in Yap, then head to Hawaii. A diver’s most epic routing.
Then you still have the flight to/from Hawaii. Of course you could also do that route on Avios or something else.
If you have tolerance for incoherent crazy talk, I did an entire post on trying to maximize this to get to Australia without going through Asia. It was called Trans-Pacific Lufthansa Miles Hopper.
Ways to earn Lufthansa miles:
- Lufthansa credit card
- SPG transfers
United Miles Stopovers
4) Caribbean Hopper for 35,000 miles
I proudly stumbled upon this Caribbean Hopper route as a oneway without any stopovers for half the cost.
It was a little less than 24 hours in DC, Aruba, and Panama City before arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m a slow paced traveler, but 23 hours was all I needed in Aruba and Panama City.
But to enjoy this ticket more, one could do it roundtrip and get an extra stop that’s more than 24 hours.
I know a couple readers booked US to St. Maarten (stopover), to Panama City (layover), to Puerto Rico (stopover), and returned home for 35,000 miles! Considering how easy it is to get enough miles from one credit card sign up bonus (like the CSP, Ink Bold or United card), this is a fun/cheap redemption.
5) Africa/Middle East and Japan for 70,000 miles
It’s a lot of flying, but if we really wanted to up our game, you could learn United’s Stopover & Routing Rule Secrets, and lower the cost of your Africa or Middle East ticket.
Oddly enough, these tickets are 80,000 to 85,000 miles for a roundtrip normally… but when you add a second stop in Japan, the price lowers to 70,000 miles. Yep, by making it a trip around the world, it’s cheaper.
While there are a number of examples like this, this seems like an exceptional value.
Ways to earn United miles:
- United explorer card (personal & biz)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold/Plus transfers
Read More: United Stopover Secrets
British Airways “Avios” Stopovers
6) Two+ Stopovers to South America for 45,000 Avios
Oddly enough most people don’t think of British airways as having stopovers as you just price things out per segment. But what I noticed awhile back is that sometimes adding a stop will decrease the price. And remember, these stops can be as long as you want.
For example, a oneway ticket from Miami to Santiago, Chile is 25,000 Avios.
However, a ticket from Miami to Lima, Peru is 12,500 Avios and a ticket from Lima to Santiago is 10,000 Avios. In other words, booking a stopover in Peru would bring the price from 25,000 Avios to 22,500 Avios. This isn’t just a free stopover, it’s actually cheaper to make this stopover.
Also, this is just one direction. You could have a stopover in Colombia or Ecuador on the way back.
Ways to earn British Airways Avios:
- British Airways card
- American Express Membership Rewards cards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards cards
- SPG card
Air Canada Miles Stopovers
7) Europe + Australia for 80,000 miles
Similar to US Airways, Air Canada’s routing rules are very loose. Sometimes they seem non-existent. But really, they are strict about certain things, like open-jaws have to return to the same city, and what not. Other times they let you route whatever you want.
US to Europe to Asia/Australia/Oceania
Air Canada will allow you to stopover pretty much anywhere on the way to anywhere else. Despite the huge Air Canada devaluation, there are decent spots on the award chart, particularly in economy.
I don’t know if I personally want to fly from North America to Europe, to Australia, and back, in economy… but it’s a heck of a deal.
And it’s all easily done online. Just use the multiple destination search and go to town.
The problem is that the fuel surcharges can add up. Thus you need to know which airlines don’t pass on fuel surcharges. As I show in the Star Alliance fuel surcharge chart, Air Canada doesn’t pass on YQ on a number of airlines.
AC partners you can fly without accruing fuel surcharges: Air China, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Egypt Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TACA, TAM, Turkish, and United.
Ways to earn Air Canada Miles:
- American Express Membership Rewards Cards
- SPG card
Asia Miles Stopovers
8) 4 Stopovers to South America
I wanted to include an example of a true distance based program, where you add up all the miles flown to get the award price. This program (and JAL) is pretty cool because it allows 4 stopovers on a roundtrip. That’s 5 stops total.
Here’s the Asia Miles OneWorld Award Chart:
You use the “Distance in actual miles” column when you know exactly how many miles you’ll actually fly. Then the next columns are the price in Asia Miles.
In my Best Use of Asia Miles, I give two main stopover examples. One is a roundtrip to Europe and another is to South America. It’s a little easier to explain the one within Latin America because none of the airline options pass on fuel surcharges (and in Europe you have to watch out for British Airways’ huge fuel surcharges).
The route is “New York – Cancun – Lima – Quito – Miami – New York”.
That’s 4 destinations and technically we would still have one stopover left over. Pretty cool. But to price it out we need to enter the airport codes into Gcmap.com which tells us that the route is 7,620 flown miles. If we compare “7,620” to the second column above, we see the price will fit into zone 6. The price would therefore be 60,000 miles in economy.
One could really have fun playing around pricing out routes using the award chart above, gcmap.com, and the OneWorld Route map. Basically, any route under 10,001 flown miles would be a killer deal to South America if you’re actually using multiple stopovers.
Ways to Earn Asia Miles:
- American Express Membership Rewards cards
- Citi ThankYou cards
- SPG card
Read More: Best use of Asia Miles
ANA Miles Stopovers
9) Europe + Asia for 65,000 miles (up to 8 stopovers!)
ANA recently changed their rewards program away from a “distance based” program (like Asia Miles) to a typical region based program. In the process they seemed to have eliminated stopovers all together.
But when researching my post on the new ANA program I realized that they still had the exact same distance based award chart in place for “round the world” tickets. There was 1 bad thing and 2 good things.
The bad news is that you aren’t allowed to back track. Basically you can’t cross the Atlantic to Europe and then turn around and come back. Instead you just have to continue your ticket east until you’ve gone around the world. So it actually has to be a round the world ticket.
The good news is both that the award chart has amazing prices and that it now allows 8 stopovers!
I won’t go on and on in this section about booking a ticket with 8 stopovers, but I’ll give an example with a couple stopovers just as an example.
New York to Paris, to Hong Kong, to New York
When I check the distance of such a route on GCmap.com it says that this route would be a minimum of 15,578 flown miles. According to the award chart, that would be 65,000 miles in economy (65k/105k/160k for economy/business/first). This is an incredible price for such a ticket and there is plenty of room to add more stops. And even if you do add more flown miles the next price point is 75,000 miles, which isn’t that expensive for a round-the-world style trip.
The part that would scare me off is the fuel surcharges. Please read carefully about the research I did on which airlines pass on fuel surcharges and how much that would add on top of the already existing airport taxes.
How to earn ANA Miles:
- American Express Membership Rewards cards
- SPG card
Read more: Rocking the New ANA Miles Award Chart
Of course there are nearly an infinite number of stopover combinations with all the cities out there and all the mileage programs that allow stopovers. But I like to get some brainstorming out there in case you are sitting on a stash of miles I talked about and were already planning a similar trip without the stopovers.
But if you want more complete info on stopovers, check out the complete list of stopover rules.