[bluebox]The Maximize Your Miles series will teach you how to squeeze the most possible value out of your frequent flyer miles by getting free one-ways and taking 3 vacations for the price of 1! Other posts in the series include: Understanding Stopovers and Open Jaws  <— Read this first. Stopovers and Open Jaws on […]


Maximize Your Miles: Stopovers and Open Jaws on United

Posted By Trav



[bluebox]The Maximize Your Miles series will teach you how to squeeze the most possible value out of your frequent flyer miles by getting free one-ways and taking 3 vacations for the price of 1!

Other posts in the series include:


United is a great program to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles in for a variety of reasons;

Additionally, United’s rules when dealing with stopovers and open jaws are (fairly) simple and straightforward.

If you’ve read parts 2 and 3 of Maximize Your Miles you know how convoluted the rules can be on American Airlines and USAirways, so luckily, United makes life a little easier.

Let’s take a look at their main rules, build an incredible sample itinerary using a stopover and open jaw and then talk about an awesome “trick” you can use to score a free one-way ticket to anywhere in North America (including the Caribbean).

Rule #1: United does not allow stopovers or open jaws on domestic tickets

This is standard procedure for all airlines, with the lone exception being Delta.

Therefore, everything we will be talking about from here on out will deal with international itineraries.

Rule #2: United does not allow stopovers or open jaws on one-way tickets

The fact that United allows you to book one-way tickets with your frequent flyer miles is a good thing (remember, USAirways doesn’t allow one-way tickets).

The major downside is that you can’t take advantage of the perks of stopovers or open jaws if you book a one-way ticket.

Another difference between United and USAirways is that United representatives are not near as lenient as their Star Alliance counterparts over at USAirways.

You can try to bend the rules at United (after all, it never hurts to try) but the odds are that you won’t get a rep that will let you break this rule.

If you want a stopover or open jaw, you’re going to have to book roundtrip.

Rule #3: United allows 1 stopover and 2 open jaws on roundtrip international tickets

Chill out, relax, and take some time to stopover!

This is where United has AA beat hands down.  Let’s first look at the stopover, build a simple routing, and then add in the open jaws and get a little crazier!

The stopover

The stopover can occur in any city that is within your route, meaning you don’t have to worry about having your stopover happen at a “North American gateway city” like AA.

If you are flying to somewhere in Europe, you can have your stopover in another European city before continuing on to your destination, which basically means the possibilities are endless.

For example, a basic itinerary could look like this:

New York-London (stopover)-Paris (destination)

Return: Paris-New York

On AA, you couldn’t stop in London because its not in North America, but with United, it doesn’t matter.

Basically you can stop in any city that United or its partners on Star Alliance flies to that is on a somewhat reasonable route to your final destination.

Since this is ALOT, the world is your oyster!

Adding in the first open jaw

You may think you’d be content with getting to visit two cities on one award ticket, but remember, we are all about MAXIMIZATION!

Why visit two when you can visit three?

Let’s keep the original plan of flying New York-London (stopover)- Paris (destination).  But now, instead of simply flying Paris-New York on the return leg, we want to add in an open jaw.

This means that we will arrive in Paris but we will leave out of another city for our return leg.

Rome sound enticing to anyone?

Now, our itinerary would look like this:

New York-London (stopover)-Paris (destination)

Return flight:  Rome-New York

Of course, you’d be responsible for making your own way to Rome, but this is easily done, especially in Europe, where you can fly budget airlines between cities for less than $100 or simply take a train.

If you found that it would cost more to make your own way between Paris and Rome than it would be make your own way between London and Rome (which could be the case since Ryanair offers some amazing deals out of London), you could always flip flop your stopover and open jaw and book this itinerary:

New York-London (destination) then open jaw

Return flight: Rome-Paris (stopover)- New York

Either way, you’d have to pay your own way to get between the open jaw cities, but this is easily done, especially in Europe, and it allows you add in a completely other city for a fraction of the cost.

Trick:  How to get a free one-way ticket to anywhere in North America

Ok, so you’re happy with your itinerary, but you know that you still have another open jaw, and you have really taken the “maximize, maximize, maximize” mantra to heart, so you don’t want to waste the second open jaw.

First, I’ll start with the bad news:

If you want to be able to use your second open jaw, you are going to have to give up your stopover in Europe so that you can “save” it for later.

But, there’s plenty of good news:

 The reward is free one-way ticket to anywhere in the North American region, which includes the US (minus Hawaii) and Canada (or a super discounted ticket elsewhere).

Here’s what you can do:

You can still use your first open jaw in Europe, as you originally planned, so let’s continue with our original itinerary.

We’d now book something like this for the European part of our journey:

New York-London (destination) then open jaw

Return: Paris-New York

Since we still have a stopover and an open jaw left, we can call New York our stopover city (and stay there for up to a year) and then add on an extra leg to anywhere in the North America region, which includes the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.

You’ve always dreamed of seeing Alaska, right?

Our full itinerary would look like this:

New York-London (destination) then open jaw

Return:  Paris-New York (stopover for up to a year)- Anchorage (final destination)

You are now using your one open jaw in between London and Paris, your stopover in New York, and your second open jaw to have Anchorage as your ultimate ending point even though you originally flew out of New York.

All you’d have to do is get yourself a ticket home from Anchorage (which will cost 12.5k miles one way) and you not only a European vacation visiting 2 amazing cities but also an Alaskan adventure.

And all for the price of one award ticket!

Other options for your free one-way ticket

Tons of options, all of which are awesome!

The above example shows how to get a free one-way ticket to Alaska (or anywhere else in the North American region) but what if you want to go somewhere else?

That’s also possible.

For wherever you’d like to go, simply sub out Anchorage in the above example and add in the place you desire.

Instead of charging you for separate tickets (North America-Europe roundtrip plus North America-2nd region one-way), United will simply charge you the difference between the two regions, which is alot less.


For example, if you’d rather your free one-way get you to the Caribbean, you’d simply book your return leg to go there.  An example would be:

New York- London (destination) then open jaw

Return: Paris-New York (stopover)- Grand Cayman (final destination)  

Since United’s award chart actually charges you less to fly from the Caribbean to Europe than North America to Europe, you’ll actually only pay 57,500 miles for this ticket as opposed to the 60,000 you’d pay if you ended your trip in North America (like the above example to Anchorage).

If you were to book these tickets separately, you’d pay 60k for your roundtrip ticket from North American to Europe and then 17.5k for a one-way ticket from North America to the Caribbean.

Instead, you are saving 20k miles by making New York a stopover and Grand Cayman your final destination.


Same rules apply.  You’d book:

New York-London (destination) then open jaw

Return:  Paris-New York (stopover)-Honolulu

Your total cost in miles would run 62,500.

You’d be getting charged an additional 2,500 miles because Europe to Hawaii prices out at 32,500 as opposed to 30,000 for Europe to North America region, but you are still saving a ton.

If you were to book this as two separate awards, you’d pay 80k (60k for Europe to NA roundtrip and 20k for NA to Hawaii one-way).

South America

You can do the same thing with South America.  An example would be:

New York-London (destination) then open jaw

Paris-New York (stopover)- Buenos Aires (final destination)

The final price for this itinerary would be 77,500 miles.

If you were to book these seperately, you’d spend 90k total (60k from New York to Europe and then an additional 30k for a one-way from New York to Buenos Aires).

By using the stopover trick, you’re saving 12,500 miles!

Free one-way vs. stopover in Europe: Which should you choose?

Decisions, decisions….

Determining whether you should book a free one-way ticket or keep your extra stopover in Europe is a good problem to have, and in the end, it comes down to preference.

If your one-way falls in the North American region, both awards will price out the same, at 60k miles apiece.

With the stopover in Europe, we were able to build an itinerary that looked like this:

New York-London (stopover)-Paris then open jaw

Rome-New York

With the free one-way, we would have an intinerary like this:

New York-London then open jaw

Paris-New York (stopover)-Anchorage

Each is a great trip, so just decide whether you’d enjoy visiting an extra city in Europe or getting a free trip out to somewhere in North America later on.

Either way, you’re making out like a bandit and taking a trip that you could probably have only dreamed about before.

How To Book Stopovers and Open Jaws on United

The second best thing about booking stopovers and open jaws with United (behind being allowed to stopover at basically any city) is that you can do it all online.

Unlike American Airlines and USAirways, whose computer systems are stuck in the era of Zubaz pants and Fraggle Rock, United has decided to join the rest of us in the new millenium and has a system that is not only highly functional but also user-friendly.

You’ll quickly get the hang of it once you do it once, but for those people who are new to booking with United, especially when using stopovers and open jaws, I’ve created a short video tutorial:

Still Confused? Have Questions?

If you’ve read through and are thinking:

Stopovers and open jaws are awesome, I want to use them…but I’m still confused as heck about how to actually do it!

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

In fact, I created Frequent Flyer Bootcamp EXACTLY for you.

I’ll walk you through, step by step, every single thing you need to do to learn about and book stopovers, open-jaws, and free one-ways.

Video tutorials.

Private Facebook group.

Live Q&A’s with me, one on one.

I’ve spent hundred of hours creating the #1 place for people who want to become EXPERTS at booking awards and maximizing their miles and want to do it fast!

4 weeks, and you’ll be an EXPERT, guaranteed!  And you’ll be saving yourself $1,000’s of dollars!

Interested?  Check out the Frequent Flyer Bootcamp page for more information.

I look forward to whipping your butt in class!

Final Word(s)

Stopovers and open jaws can be an incredibly powerful tool to help you put together a vacation of a lifetime, and on no airline is this more apparent than United, which allows a ton of freedom in which choosing which city to stopover in.

Add in the fact that you are able to add a free one-way for a later date and really, the possibilities are endless!

I would highly recommend that everyone consider using these to your advantage if you are booking a roundtrip ticket with your United frequent flyer miles.

The fact that you don’t even have to call in and book the tickets but instead can play around on United’s system till your heart’s content to figure out what works for you means that you really have no excuse.

So, what are you waiting for?  Remember:  MAXIMIZE, MAXIMIZE, MAXIMIZE!

Questions, comments, and unabashed bragging of the awesome trips you’ve booked is all welcome below.  Fire away folks!

[bluebox]If you haven’t already, check out the other awesome Maximize Your Mile posts:


Big thanks to Scott at Milevalue for his great post explaining the ins and outs of the free one-way trick.

(bus stop, magic trick, presents photos courtesy of kennymatic, decisions photo courtesy of Jonathan_W)

73 thoughts on “Maximize Your Miles: Stopovers and Open Jaws on United”

  1. milevalue says:

    One exception to “no stopovers on domestic trips:” You can have one stopover and up to two open jaws on United awards to Hawaii. That means you can add free oneways on United awards to Hawaii.

    See http://milevalue.com/free-oneways-are-available-on-united-awards-to-hawaii/

    1. Trav says:

      @milevalue- Very true. To be more clear, it should be worded as “no stopovers if flying within the North America region”, of which Hawaii is not part of. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Jack says:

    Very, very helpful!

    1. Trav says:

      @Jack- Thanks! Glad you liked it.

  3. Great article thanks, I have booked with United for next year, London-newark-orlando, I decided too late that i wanted a few days in New york (we have never been and teenage daughter is desperate to go)but they wont let me change it, they said that the travel agents are the only ones that can change it and they won’t as they are bulk flights??, not sure what that means, so gutted! anybody got nay ideas?

    1. Trav says:

      @samshinyapple- When you say “they won’t let you change it”, who is they? What miles did you use to book the flight? United miles? Whatever airline’s miles you used to book the flight is the airline you’d need to call and ask about changing the date. And as far as I know, United allows you to change the dates of your trip up until you start traveling the first leg of the journey.

      My suggestion would be to call United and ask about stopping over in Newark for a few days. From what you’ve written, that should be perfectly within the rules of United award tickets.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply Trav, even though I am a member of United mileage plus, I didn’t actually use any points to book these flights, as got an amazing cheap deal with budget air.co.uk, a travel agent in UK. I first asked the travel agent about extending the stopover and they said they couldn’t do it, ask united, but united’s response was only your travel agent can do it, arghhhh.

        This is the actual response from united:-
        After reviewing your reservation, I was able to determine that your
        tickets are “bulk” tickets, which means that they can only be modified
        by the issuing agency. Please contact your travel agency to determine if
        the change can be made.

        1. Trav says:

          @samshinyapple- Ok, that is a different story then. If you bought the tickets, as opposed to using frequent flyer miles, there are different rules and regulations. The fact that you bought the tickets through a travel agency will also make it even more difficult to get a stopover on a paid ticket. I believe it is probably up to United in the long-run, but getting them to give it to you could be another story. Good luck!

  4. Kevin says:

    I’m not sure I understand these “stopover” possibilities with United. I routinely fly R/T from Tokyo to Chicago. It seems when I try to book this as an award with United, I am unable to add a non-contiguous stopover (like, say, Buffalo for 3 days) into that routing.

    American has no trouble doing this for me. And during off-season, it allows me to do so for 50K miles in economy. United would be much more.

    Can someone tell me how United is preferable to AA with stopovers? This makes a difference in my choice of carriers.

    1. Trav says:

      @Kevin- AA will only allow you a stopover in a “gateway city”, which Chicago is. A gateway city is either the first city you land in North America when coming from an international destination or the last city you leave out in North America when going to an international destination. That is why it is no problem for you to stop in Chicago. However, you are fortunate you live in Chicago, since that is one of the few “gateway” cities.

      If you didn’t live in a gateway city, you wouldn’t be able to stop there, so for your specific case, Chicago does work.

      The reason United is so great with stopovers is that it doesn’t have to be a gateway city. You can stop anywhere, even somewhere out of the country. So, in your case, what you could do was go Chicago to Tokyo (count that as your stopover) and the continue on to somewhere else, such as Bangkok. That way, you’d get a free one-way ticket to Bangkok in addition to your trip. You’d have 1 year from when you landed in Tokyo to continue on to Bangkok.

      Again, for your specific circumstance, just going to Chicago and then heading to Buffalo, AA does work, and makes a lot of sense because you can get off-peak awards. However, if you wanted to change the stopover city from Chicago to something else, you wouldn’t be able to do it unless it was another “gateway city”, like San Fran, Dallas, Vancouver, and a few others.

      Lastly, I’m not sure why trying to do a Tokyo-Chicago (stopover)- Buffalo isn’t working with United. It should be fine. Have you tried calling them up and giving them the flight numbers to see if it would work that way?

      1. Kevin says:

        Talked to a United agent. I was told that a routing like this:
        Tokyo –> Chicago –> Buffalo –> Chicago –> Tokyo
        equals two stopovers. Only one stopover is allowed on international award travel. So it can’t be booked.

        I’m not sure why this is two stopovers as it involves three cities. Nonetheless, American trumps United in this case. I know because I just made this exact reservation with them. Offpeak economy award was only 50K.

        1. Trav says:

          @Kevin- The agent is right, and I see what your issue is. It is TWO stopovers because you are stopping over in Chicago twice. It doesn’t matter that it is the same city.

          What you would be able to do is Tokyo-Chicago (stopover)- Buffalo- Tokyo without stopping back in Chicago on the way back to Tokyo. Or, of course, you could stopover in Chicago on the way back to Tokyo but not on the way from Tokyo to Buffalo. If you do either of those, it will work.

          The reason you are able to stop both ways with American Airlines is because AA allows one stopover per ticket and they are counting each way as 1 ticket. Meaning Tokyo -Chicago-Buffalo is one ticket and then Buffalo-Chicago-Tokyo is a separate ticket. You are allowed a stopover on each ticket.

          The reason that doesn’t work for United is that they don’t allow stopovers on one-way tickets, only on roundtrip tickets. Therefore, you can only stop once, either in Chicago on your way to Buffalo or in Chicago on your way back to Tokyo.

          For your situation, since Chicago is a gateway city, AA definitely works better for you!

  5. Yuhao says:

    Hi Trav. For my trip from Indianapolis to Shanghai, I was trying to add a European stopover, but UA website errored out on the Europe->Shanghai part of the selection, saying such route is not possible. Any idea why? Is this because Europe is considered out of the way and not possible as a stopover between US and China?

    1. Trav says:

      @Yuhao- You can route to Asia via Europe but you can’t exceed the MPM (Maximum Permitted Mileage) by more than 15%. To find the MPM for that route, you’d have to call United itself and ask. Then, use the Great Circle Mapper to figure out how long your trip would be with the stopover in Europe and see if it is within the 15% of the MPM.

      The other reason it might not be working is because United.com’s search function can be a little funky at times for multi-city trips. You may want to call in first and see if they can book it for you over the phone. Of course, ask them to to waive the fee since it wasn’t working to book online.

      1. Yuhao says:

        Interesting. I’ve seen variations of UA’s MPM policy in various articles; some say none exists, others have said 25%. Was it always 15% or is this a recent change? Thank you for this excellent website and your detailed responses. It’s becoming one of my favorite travel blogs.

        1. Trav says:

          @Yuhao- I thought that it was 15%, but apparently, even United doesn’t know what it is. I read a few places that people even called United and asked and they said there was no standard policy. I guess it is whatever you can talk them in to letting you book.

  6. Kay says:

    Hi Travis,
    Just wondering: if I book an international flight on United and in conjuction with, and followed by a domestic one way ticket for sometime within the year of my international flight and… I need to change the date on the domestic flight after I have done the international travel, would I be permitted to do this without being charged a fee by United?

    1. Trav says:

      @Kay- With United, you should be able to change the date even AFTER travel has already begun on that ticket. So yes, you would be able to change the domestic portion of the ticket even if you’ve already used the international portion of it. Be careful though, because not all airlines allow this. United does, but USAirways certainly doesn’t, so make sure to read the rules for each airline beforehand!

  7. Brandon says:

    Hi, I’m a little confused about the 1 stopover & 2 open jaws rule for United. I understand that I can do this: NYC –> LON (stopover) LON –> Paris. Then open jaw and go from Rome –> NYC, but I still have 1 open jaw left. Instead of doing Rome –> NYC for the first open jaw could I do Rome –> Frankfurt (1st open jaw), then Munich –> NYC (2nd open jaw)??

    1. Trav says:

      @Brandon- Interesting. In theory, that should work. The only issue comes with actually getting the United reps to allow it. Sometimes, even if something falls within the stated rules, they won’t allow it. When this happens, I usually call in a 2nd or 3rd time to see if someone else will allow it. After 3 times, if they say no, I just give up on it. Again, this should technically be allowed, so good luck.

  8. AJ says:

    First of all, thank you so much! This post will really help on my one trip this year. I do have one question though, and I hope it’s not a stupid one. On a theoretical booking that’s SEA-NRT(stopover)-ICN(destination) could I use an open jaw and do TPE-SEA for the return flight? EVA becomes an official Star Alliance member in June and flies the TPE-SEA route.

    1. Trav says:

      @AJ- Yep, that should be allowed. Great use of the stop over and open jaw rule. As I told Brandon above, sometimes they won’t allow it even if it fits in the rules. If this happens, just call back and try with another rep.

      1. AJ says:

        Gotcha. Thanks again!

  9. Thanks so much for the guide, however I am trying to figure this one out.

    If I started in Cairo and flew to New Delhi, India there is a flight that connects in Bangkok, Thailand. The difference however is that flying from Cairo to New Delhi is 20,000 miles while flying to Bangkok is something around 30-35,000 miles. How can I get the stopover in Bangkok for just 20,000? Is this possible?

  10. Lauren says:

    Am hoping to be able to fly a Saver Award in Business to and from Europe next summer and take advantage of this magical free flight! Was doing a test run by trying to book flights in March/April of next year, and while I made the one ways work (and Saver Business is available), for some reason I keep getting an error when I try to put it all together. My plan is WAS-DBV, ATH-WAS-HNL. See any issues with that? Am I to assume that ticket is going to be 115K miles because of the flight to Hawaii? Thanks!

    1. Trav says:

      @Lauren- The above itinerary should work. In it, you have your destination (DBV), your open-jaw (ATH), your stopover (WAS) and then your second open jaw (ending in HNL and not where you started, which is WAS).

      I don’t see any issues with that, and I’m not sure why the computer won’t price it out. I’d call up and talk to a representative and see what they say, although they might not be as knowledgeable as you. However, it should work.

      Yeah, whatever the extra cost is for a flight to Hawaii (over just a simple domestic ticket) should be tacked on to the total.

  11. Sierra says:

    This is fantastic news! I’m getting ready to book a roundtrip from the mainland to Hawaii on United, and I really want to take advantage of this opportunity! I already have 2 roundtrip tickets from my home airport (RDU) booked for before my Hawaii trip (in Nov), but I’m wondering if I can cancel part of these itineraries (they are refundable southwest fares) and book using my United open jaws/stopovers. I have been puzzling over this for hours, but I can’t figure out if I am getting this right. So I live near RDU, and I have roundtrips scheduled in August to SEA and in October to LAX. In November I want to fly from RDU to Honolulu and from Kauai back to RDU.
    Can I book something like:
    Plan A (this would save me two one-way tickets)
    Depart SEA/Arrive RDU
    Depart LAX/Arrive RDU
    [stopover RDU]
    Depart RDU/Arrive Honolulu
    Depart Kauai/Arrive RDU

    Plan B (only saves 1 one-way ticket)
    Depart SEA/Arrive RDU
    [stopover RDU]
    Depart RDU/Arrive Honolulu
    Depart Kauai/Arrive RDU

    Plan C (I am pretty sure this would work but I’d rather save a leg of the Seattle trip since that ticket was pricier)
    Depart RDU/Arrive LAX
    [stopover LAX]
    Depart LAX/Arrive Honolulu
    Depart Kauai/Arrive RDU


  12. Mmmm says:

    Hi Travis,
    I’d like to know if below itinerary could work or not
    I’m planning to fly from TPE-PVG(stopover)-ICN
    Then GMP-KIX(first open jaw)
    and then HND-TSA or NRT-TPE (second open jaw)
    I tried this itinerary on UA’s website but showed error.
    But according to your reply above I guess this could work?

    1. Trav says:

      @Mmmm- You can only have 2 places that you stop for more than 24 hours. Basically, this means you can have a stopover in one place, and then if you want to add the open jaw, you need to have the open jaw be at your destination. The open-jaw, if it is longer than 24 hours, will count as a stopover.

      So, in your case, you stop at PVG and then you also stop at ICN. If you then stop at KIX, that is a 3rd stop, and wouldn’t work. Open Jaws will count as stopovers ALSO if they are for more than 24 hours, so you have to make sure that you have 2 or less stops of 24 hours.

      For example, you could go TPE-PVG (stopover)-ICN. (open jaw) GMP-TSA or TPE. But you can’t have the Japan segment in there.

  13. mmm says:

    Hi travis,
    is below itinerary possible?
    From TPE-SHA(stopover)-KIX
    then from NRT-ICN(first open jaw) and GMP-TSA(second open jaw)

    i called the customer service, they told me that we can only have 1 stopover and 1 open jaw on round way tickets.
    did they change the rule?

    1. Trav says:

      @Mmm- They are wrong, you can have 1 stopover and 2 open jaws, however, you can only stop twice. That means that one of the open jaws has to be either less than 24 hours, or it means that you can fly back to a city that you didn’t leave from. For example, you could start your trip in TPE, but your ending could be in TSA. That is an open jaw as well.

      But remember, you can only actually stop in a city for more than 24 hours TWICE.

  14. Mara Rice says:

    Love your advice and encouragement!!! I’d love to book United nest summer going from STL to LYR to ZUR (stopover in Paris – there is one option!)
    open jaw – leaving from LUX and returning to STL. We are totally flexible with dates.
    I can’t seem to make it work on the website. Maybe web remembers by many tries at various options! Do you think this is do-able on an award?

    1. Trav says:

      @Mara Rice- Thanks Mara!

      If you stop over in LYR and then set ZUR as your destination, and then leave to return home from LUX, that will work. If you try to put Paris in there somewhere, that’d be 3 stops, and wouldn’t work.

      If you want me to help you book the actual itinerary, you can check out the AWard Booking page for more information.

  15. Brandon says:

    Hi, I was wondering if this itinerary would be possible:

    NYC –> Rome –> NYC (stopover?) *wait a few months*, then NYC –> LAS (open jaw) L.A. –> NYC

    1. Trav says:

      @Brandon- It would work to get you out to LAS, but you couldn’t come back to NYC on the same ticket. You’d need to book the LA to NYC leg on a separate ticket. You are getting the free one-way out there, but the return to NYC is a new itinerary.

  16. mmm says:

    Hi Trav,
    is my schedule possible?
    Then HND-HKG(transfer)-TPE
    I’m flying from Taipei(north asia) to Incheon, South Korea, can I transfer in Singapore or Bangkok(south asia)?
    Do I have to fly in same direction?

    1. Trav says:

      @mmm- That itinerary should definitely work. As long as your transfers are under 24 hours, you are fine. That is one stopover (ICN) and one open-jaw (KIX-HND). Looks good!

      1. mmm says:

        thanks, Trav!
        I called the customer service today.
        They said this schedule needs 60000 miles to fly in business class.
        But from north asia to Japan round trip in business class should be 40000 miles.
        Should I ask customer service to check again?
        And if I fly in business class, can I use airport lounges operated by any star alliance member?

        1. Trav says:

          @mmm- Yeah, I’d call back. That should work out to 40k in business…it must be pricing out as wrong.

          Call and explain to her what you want to do, with the stopover and open jaw, and see if that helps.

          Also, are all of your transfers under 24 hours?

          And yes, if you fly business, you can use lounges operated by Star Alliance partners usually.

  17. kumako says:

    if I have multiple transfers, can I enter every country during every connection time?

    1. Trav says:

      @Kumako- I’m not sure what you mean. If you have a connection, you can go out of the airport and see the country if you like. Is that what you are asking?

  18. Brandon says:


    I have a question about stopovers. If you go from City A to City C, with a stopover in City B, but City B is further away from city A than City C, would they not allow that city as a stopover? For example, I’m trying to find flights from Italy to Japan and then to Hong Kong. Japan would be the stopover, and Hong Kong would be the destination, but Japan is further ‘east’ from Italy than Hong Kong is, would this not work? United seems to not be able to find any flights with this kind of itinerary!

    1. Trav says:

      @Brandon- It shouldn’t really matter which is further away, especially when traveling that far. However, if you are trying to book it online on United.com, that will probably be a problem. The system doesn’t really work that well.

      If you want to book this, call them up. Again, you should be able to do this itinerary.

      1. Bradon says:

        Hi Trav,

        Thank you for the reply. I actually did a test booking on United.com and it worked, I didn’t get any errors. But I will try to see if U.S. airways will allow it, thanks!

        1. Trav says:

          @Bradon- USAirways has been a complete pain lately. Just spent 2 hours on the phone with them trying to get them to allow a JFK-CDG-LHR-JFK ticket (basically, the easiest ticket ever).

          Good luck!

          1. Bradon says:

            Wow, that’s terrible!! I hope everything went through ok in the end! Thanks!

          2. Trav says:

            @Bradon- Success was mine, after a bit. Ugh, USAirways.

  19. Brandy says:

    Hi Trav,

    After reading your post and the posts from other blogger about how to use United miles wisely, I have some doubts… Please help me!!!

    #1 Some blogger hold a different opinion for adding a free one-way (http://travelisfree.com/2013/05/21/using-oneways-to-save-united-miles/). But after I read several times, I still kind of don’t understand the reason why he’s against it… Can you help me with this?

    #2 Can we really make stopover in any cities we want? But for this itinerary, is it valid for United rules?
    “NYC-LAX (des­ti­na­tion) LAX-NYC (stopover) -Miami.”

    #3 Trav, if you add free one-way ticket, how do you usually deal with the return part? You will buy another flight ticket or use your mile to redeem one-way ticket? Because for our situation, some one way flight ticket is very expensive compared with roundtrip ticket.

    Thank you so much! :)

    1. Trav says:

      @Brandy- I’d be glad to help.

      #1. The reason Drew over at Travel is Free is “against” it is because if you add a free one-way on to your United flight, that means you aren’t able to stop over anywhere during the trip. Basically, you can’t have a stopover during the first part of your trip and then add the free one-way on for after the trip. It’s one or the other. So you just have to decide which you’d rather have.

      #2. That wouldn’t be valid because you can’t have a stopover on a domestic ticket. Stopovers are only allowed on international tickets.

      And even on international tickets, the stopover can’t be anywhere. It has to make some geographic sense, although many people have been able to stretch the boundaries. It really is a case by case basis. Shoot for where you want to stopover, and the worst they can say is no.

      #3. Great question. If I had a free one-way, I usually use miles to get home because like you said, it can be super expensive to buy a one-way ticket back. So yes, I’ll almost always use miles for the return part. Either that, or go with an airline that has decent one way ticket prices, like Southwest, Frontier, etc.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Brandy says:

        Hi Trav,

        Really appreciate your help.

        As we all know, this time UA significantly increased redemption miles on Business and First classes. For those who prefer redeem their miles on these two higher classes, what would be your suggestions? Should they use AA’s miles on these two classes or other programs which normally require less miles on C and F classes? Or the truth is that the required miles on C and F classes for UA, AA and other programs are almost the same because “before” UA required less miles on these classes?

        Thank you again, Trav. : )

        1. Trav says:

          @Brandy- Yeah, it’s a tough one. I would take it on a case by case basis. Figure out which miles are the cheapest for the trips you want to do, and then start accumulating them. Even with the devaluation, United may be better in some cases than AA if you want to make stopovers during your itinerary. It just depends what you want to do.

          My pleasure!

          1. Brandy says:

            @Trav, you are right, case by case.

            I’ve been wanting to go to Australia and New Zealand. AA has a stronger advantage in that region for people based in Asia. However, we couldn’t make any stopovers outside the US while using AA’s miles. This time, UA has decreased the miles from North Asia to Oceania, which is a great news for us. It indeed becomes very a cheap region!!! haha!!! (excited)

            But… I think if the merger goes well between AA and US, there will be a great chance that AA will make some adjustment on their award charts as well…. (crying)

            Have a nice weekend Trav :)

  20. oldporkchops says:

    Hello Travis,

    Of all the travel blogs I’m subscribed to, yours is by far the most enjoyable read. I really like your style. Thank you for all the hard work that you put into getting all the information from various sources into your blog. I’m writing a doctoral dissertation and know how much of a feat that takes.

    I came across your blog previously through links from other blogs but I didn’t subscribe till lately, when I read your posts about fuel surcharges. You see, I am trying desperately to book two business class tickets, possibly three, for my parents and brother to attend my PhD graduation here in Alabama next Spring. And you guessed it! I really want them to fly on Singapore Airlines, as it’s the most convenient for them since they live in Singapore.

    Your blog and the orange and white diagram that you put together was one that I am constantly referring to as I try to find ways to book those two or three business tickets on SQ as well as another trip for myself to Asia later this year.

    Please do update me if you know better, but it seems that the best way, after UA and SQ decided to mutually take away inventory from UA’s website, is to go either the Aeroplan or Lifemiles route. Avianca’s Lifemiles seems to display a great deal of inventory since they are new or whatever reason, especially for those coveted SQ business class routes from North America to Singapore.

    I am impressed that you take time to respond in detail to your readers questions. This is something that not many bloggers do well. Those that do usually do not go into great detail like you do. I have not come across any other travel blogger that does that. Kudos to you!

    Here’s sort of a silly question if you don’t mind. I kind of already know what to expect, but wanted to run my idea through you for confirmation as I didn’t want to waste miles. This thought came across my mind after reading your very extensive post with great examples on how to book open jaws and stopovers on UA.

    I redeemed an UA MP award ticket for BHM-ORD-PVG (stopover of 27 hours) PVG-BKK (open jaw) PVG-MUC-CLT-BHM. All travel for this ticket has already been completed.

    Let’s simplify this example and assume that I am now in PVG waiting for my return leg. Do you think UA will entertain adding the free one way on this ticket? Let’s say BHM-EWR, if the start and end date of the ticket is still within a year? I don’t suppose that now with all travel completed, UA will allow me to add on a BHM-EWR leg, would you?

    Thanks in advance for considering my questions. I appreciate you taking time to respond.

    Do have a great week Travis.

    1. Trav says:

      @oldporkchops- Thanks for all the compliments, really appreciate it. As far as your questions, I think you’re dead on in the fact that the best way to get SQ availability is through Lifemiles or Aeroplan. United seems like a lost cause for that at the moment.

      Regarding adding an free one-way on AFTER your travel is done, I highly doubt you could talk them in to that. Reason being is that they won’t allow you to change the route for the itinerary, and changing the ending point (EWR instead of BHM) would be changing the route. I can’t see any way that they’d let you do that, unfortunately.

  21. Shogo says:

    Hey Travis, the links to your other three posts are broken here and there, across all four pages. Just a heads up.

    Thank you for your posts–I’ve been browsing them all night and I have to say you really provide top-notch and unique information, and I appreciate that you don’t compromise good content for affiliate traffic. Very, very helpful and informative, so thank you for that!

    1. Trav says:

      @Shogo- Thanks, I’ll check them out. With the redesign of our site, there are some interlinking issues for some reason. Not sure why, but appreciate the heads up. I’ll go through and check them all.

      Really glad you like the information, and that’s exactly what we try to do – write informative, helpful pieces in a fun way that have nothing to do with us making affiliate commissions or money. We believe that if the content is good, the audience will love it (which they do) and that the support for our products and services will be what keeps us afloat.

  22. Soph says:

    Firstly, thank you so much for all the helpful info you’ve put up on this site! I just tried calling United about a flight I’m hoping to take from Seoul –> London –> LA –> Seoul. I figured it was round-trip to LAX, with London as my stopover… but the rep I talked to seemed to talk in circles and it wasn’t clear until the end of the call that the 75,000 miles she quoted me didn’t include the final leg back to Seoul!!! (That would be an extra 35,000 miles.) I tried to ask her if London could be my stopover but she said, “Well, it’s not really on the way…”

    Is this a standard experience? Do I just have to call back again and hope to get someone more sympathetic? Have you heard of people making similar Asia –> Europe –> US –> flights? Any advice would be most appreciated!!!

    1. Trav says:

      @Soph- You can definitely do US –> Europe —> Asia —> US, so I’m assuming you can do it the other way around. I would definitely call up again and tell them exactly what you told the first person. You are going Asia to US but stopping over in Europe, which is allowed by United rules. Whenever I’m told I can’t do something, the first course of action is to call back and try again.

      I know for a fact it’s allowed when starting in the US, so it should go the other way around. Let me know how it goes and good luck!

  23. Ben says:

    Is the Caribbean-US-Europe deal dead now? Let me explain what I mean. I realize that you can still tack on a “free one-way” ticket to the Caribbean when travelling from the US to Europe, but I can’t seem to get it to price out to where it is saving me 2,500 miles over travelling direct from the US to Europe.

    The itinerary I am looking at is the following:
    ORD – LHR
    CDG – ORD
    ORD – MBJ

    With the stopover being in Chicago for several months.

    Mainland US to Europe appears to still be pricing out at 30k miles each way, but Caribbean – Europe is showing up as 35k for me – not only is it not showing as 2,500 miles cheaper than US – Europe, but it is coming out as 5k more. I called United to try to book CDG-ORD-MBJ, and they quoted it as 35k as well, and said that while many routes have increased in recent years, the Caribbean-Europe route has been 35k for several years.

    Was the rep I spoke with mistaken, and this is a recent change; or is there a workaround I am not catching?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Trav says:

      @Ben- The United award chart from Caribbean to Europe is showing 35k one way. Not sure when this change happened, that’s not a route I’ve ever flown, but the official award chart shows 35k now.

      1. Ben says:

        Ok thanks for the clarification. So this part of the article is now dead, correct?

        “Since United’s award chart actually charges you less to fly from the Caribbean to Europe than North America to Europe, you’ll actually only pay 57,500 miles for this ticket as opposed to the 60,000 you’d pay if you ended your trip in North America (like the above example to Anchorage).

        If you were to book these tickets separately, you’d pay 60k for your roundtrip ticket from North American to Europe and then 17.5k for a one-way ticket from North America to the Caribbean.

        Instead, you are saving 20k miles by making New York a stopover and Grand Cayman your final destination.”

        1. Trav says:

          @Ben- Yeah, I guess so. Thanks for pointing that out.

          1. Ben says:

            Alright, thanks! Just didn’t want to book my itinerary for 35k miles if I was overlooking a better deal!

            I just booked ORD – LHR, and CDG – ORD (6 months stopover) – BZE for 65k miles total pp. While it would have been better before the devaluation, that’s still one heck of a bargain for a trip to Europe with an open jaw, and a one way to Belize!

          2. Trav says:

            @Ben- Dude, that’s incredible…wow, what an itinerary. That is really maximizing your miles. Have fun in Belize, I’ve never been before but heard it’s beautiful.

  24. Sarah says:

    Hey trav! Seriously this is the best blog ever. I just booked a RT to HNL from DEN last week on United miles. Think I could talk them into the stopover in Denver at the end for the free one way? Should I call them?

    1. Trav says:

      @Sarah- You could try, but I’m guessing what will happen is that you’ll have to cancel your old ticket, pay the fee to have your miles reinstated, and then book a new one since it’s a different itinerary. However, if you get a free one way to somewhere cool, it might be worth the $100-150 change fee you have to pay.

      I’d call up and see what your options are…you may even get a nice agent who lets you do it for free!

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