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
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”:
- Stopover can not be in your originating region.
- Travel must start and end in the same region.
- Stopovers must be in the same region as the destination.
- 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…).
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.
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.