The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 6 – Stopovers, Open-Jaws, and Free One-Ways

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You can get more trips from your United miles by using free stopovers, open-jaws, and one-ways!

United Stopover

Do More With Your United Miles!

The Ultimate Guide To United Miles Index

One-Way Awards

United Airlines lets you book one-way awards, which increases your flexibility.  For example, you can book a one-way United Airlines award ticket from the US to Europe, then book a one-way return using American Airlines miles.

However, United does not allow stopovers on one-way awards.  A stopover is when you stop in a city for more than 24 hours on the way to your final destination.

But you can add stopovers on round-trip award tickets.

Round-Trip Awards

United Airlines charges double the one-way price for a round-trip award ticket.  But when you book a round-trip international ticket you can add a stopover and open-jaws to your award!

An open-jaw means you return from a different city than the one you arrived in.  For example, you fly from Chicago to London, but return to Chicago from Paris.

By strategically using your stopover, you can add a free one-way domestic ticket to the end of your award ticket!

However, United charges 10,000 extra miles for a stopover on an all domestic US tickets, but not on international tickets.   The following examples are all international tickets.

United Stopover

A stopover is when you stop at a city for more than 24 hours along the way to your final destination.

It is like a L-O-N-G layover where you can stay in a city for a longer time and see a second city in addition to your final destination.

Let’s say you’re flying from Chicago to Stockholm and decide to stop in Zurich for 3 days.  Your trip would look like this:

Outbound Flight: Chicago to – Zurich (stopover for 3 days) – to Stockholm

Return Flight: Stockholm to Chicago

United Stopover

Flying Chicago To Stockholm With A Stopover In Zurich

(Map courtesy of GCMap.com)

In this example, you have a stopover on the trip from Chicago to Stockholm, but you can also have a stopover on your return flight.

United has very lax rules on where you can stopover.   In the previous example, you had a stopover in Europe, but you could instead have a stopover in the US.

You could add a stopover in New York in the middle of your return:

Outbound Flight: Chicago to Stockholm

Return Flight: Stockholm to – Newark (stopover) – to Chicago

United Stopover

You Can Add A Stopover In Newark On The Way Back From Stockholm

TIP:  A stopover only counts as a stopover if you stay in that city for 24 hours or more on an international award ticket.

So, if your flight from Stockholm to Newark connects in Frankfurt for 5 hours, that does not count as a stopover!  Some crazy travelers like to add many 23-hour overnight breaks (because they aren’t considered true stop-overs) on a ticket to see more cities!  But United may be tightening the rules on that.

Open-Jaws

United allows two open-jaws on an international round-trip award ticket.  An open-jaw means you return from a different city than the one you arrived in.

So if you fly from Newark to London, make your own way to Spain (by train etc.), then fly back home from Madrid to Newark, you have an open-jaw between London and Madrid.

United Stopover

An Open Jaw Flight Departs From A Different City Than The One You Flew Into

(Image courtesy GCMap.com)

In the previous example, you only used one open-jaw, but United allows you two open jaws or double open-jaws!

One example of a double open-jaw would be:

  • Outbound flight from Newark to Madrid (open-jaw)
  • Return flight from London to Los Angeles (2nd open-jaw with Newark)

You would fly from Newark to Madrid.  And then leave Europe (to go back to the US) from London.  Since you flew into Madrid and flew out of London, you have an open-jaw between Madrid and London.

Then you fly from London to Los Angeles.  Because you left the USA from Newark and returned to Los Angeles, your second open-jaw is between Newark and Los Angeles.

United Stopover

You Can Get Two Open-Jaws On One United Award Ticket!

(Image courtesy of GCMap.com)

Combining Stopovers And Open-Jaws For Free One-Ways!

You can even book an award ticket that includes stopovers and an open-jaw.

Let’s say you book a ticket from Newark to Madrid.  You can book your return from London to Los Angeles with a four month stopover in Newark.

Your ticket would look like this: London to – Newark (stopover for 4 months – can be up to a year) – to Los Angeles.

You live in Newark, so your stopover is spent at home in Newark!  But 4 months later, you have a free one-way ticket to Los Angeles!

To get back home from Los Angeles to Newark, you can buy a one-way ticket with cash or miles.

TIP: To get a free one-way, your stopover should be in your hometown.  Therefore, you can’t have a stopover in Europe or other destination if you plan on using a “free” one way.

United Stopover

You Can Get a Free Trip To Los Angeles After Your Trip To Europe

(Image courtesy of GCMap.com)

Adding Free One-Ways

You can add extra trips onto your ticket without using extra miles!  By simply adding on free one-ways.

Note that this is an advanced technique and requires quite a bit of planning.  It isn’t as easy it seems.  That’s because you have to really plan 1.5 vacations at ONE time when you book the award.

And remember that you have to fly ALL segments of your trip within 1 year from when you make the booking.  You will also be charged for changing the date of your booking, unless you are a United elite member.

Let’s look at your European trip from Newark to London and Madrid in more detail.

If you fly round-trip from Newark to London, then fly Madrid to Newark, you will pay 60,000 miles for an economy class round-trip award.

You can book this award segment-by-segment using the instructions in this post on booking awards on United.

United Stopover

It Costs 60,000 Miles Round-Trip To Europe Without A Free One-Way Included

Free Domestic One-Way

But you can add a domestic one-way to your ticket for free!

If you “make” Newark your stopover and add a one-way to Los Angeles, you will  pay the same 60,000 miles it costs for the Newark to London & Madrid to Newark flight.  But now you’ve added an extra trip to Los Angeles.

The only difference in price is a couple extra dollars in airport taxes!

United Stopover

You Can Add A Domestic One-Way Without Using Extra Miles

Cheap One-Ways To Hawaii

You can even use your one-way to go to Hawaii, for an extra 2,500 miles!

United Stopover

You Can Add A One-Way To Hawaii For 2,500 Extra Miles

Cheap One-Ways To Mexico And Central America

Or you could use your extra one-way to go to Central America (including the countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama) or Mexico.

United Stopover

You Can Add An Extra One-Way To Central America Or Mexico For Only 2,500 Miles

 Cheap One-Ways To Northern South America

You could also use your extra one-way trip to go to Northern South America for 10,000 more miles.

According to United, Northern South American includes the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

United Stopover

You Can Get A Trip To Europe And South America For Only 70,000 Miles

VERY Free One-Ways To The Caribbean!

Or you could use your extra one-way trip to go to the Caribbean, and SAVE 2,500 miles!

Don’t forget that you can stay in your stop-over city, (Newark in this example), before you go to the Caribbean.

You save 2,500 miles because the price for a Europe to Caribbean award ticket is cheaper than a Europe to US award.  But we can have a stopover in the US between Europe and the Caribbean!

United counts the following locations as part of the Caribbean region:

  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Barbuda
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire,
  • St. Eustatius and Saba
  • Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman)
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Grenada
  • Guadalupe
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Puerto Rico
  • St. Kitts-Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Maarten
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Virgin Islands (British and U.S.)

United Stopover

You Can Go To Europe And The Caribbean For Only 57,500 Miles

Other Options

You can have your free one-way before your trip to Europe.

For example, you can fly:

  • Los Angeles to – Newark (your stopover) – to London (open-jaw)
  • Madrid to Newark

But, if you miss your Los Angeles to Newark flight, your entire award ticket might gets automatically cancelled.

Milevalue has a lot of posts about free one-ways on United.

We will go over booking free one-ways in a future post!

Bottom Line

United lets you add a stopover and two open-jaws to your award tickets.

You can use 62,500 miles to get a return trip to Europe and a one-way trip to Hawaii, the Central America, or Mexico.

Or you could use 57, 500 miles for a trip to Europe and the Caribbean.

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149 responses to “The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 6 – Stopovers, Open-Jaws, and Free One-Ways

  1. So I wanted to try and an open plus a discounted one way. I called United directly and gave them a potential itinerary:

    LAX to London Heathrow (April 23)
    Paris (CDG) to LAX (May 8th)

    That is worth 60,000 miles, using the Saver Award

    Then for the one-way test, I gave them a trip to Hawaii that is 3 months out

    LAX to Lihue (Aug 17)

    My new total according to the United rep is 65,000 miles altogether. She was shocked. My only out of pocket is $100.80 in tax/fees plus $25 booking charge….YES!!!

    My question now is what kind of one-way can I book and NOT incur further miles? Maybe anywhere in the Continental US (not Hawaii?)

  2. Still works as of today. Thanks for your page. But like the others you got to call the United helpdesk to get extra segment. I have found them very helpful.

  3. The free segment is NOT bookable on united.com. Looks like you must call UA to try it..then you may be subject to the “type” of agent you get. Too bad it cant be done online.

  4. Not true I just tried and it still works.

    Just tried a random one: SFO – ORD, ORD – HKG, HKG-ORD 80k miles (free SFO-ORD leg)

    What are you trying that is not working?

  5. Hi – I’m trying to book a round trip that starts in IST in April 2015. The end game is to get home to IAD also in April and then round trip back to Europe in late Summer/early Fall of 2015. I tried to book a stopover in BKK between IST and IAD and when I tried to book, got an error. Not sure if I’m getting an error because I’m trying a stopover in a different region? Or if it’s because of the number of connections total? Can anyone suggest some potential stopover destinations that could make this work?

    Thanks!
    donna

  6. 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!

  7. I’m looking to book the following itinerary and not sure if this is “legal” through United or how many miles it might cost me. I know I’ll definitely need to call a rep by phone to book but was curious what your thoughts were. What combination of award tickets would I need to book? Thanks for your help!

    Washington, DC to Glasgow, Scotland
    London, England to Washington, DC
    Washington, DC to Maui, Hawaii
    Honolulu, Hawaii to Washington, DC

  8. Hi I really appreciate your site, it answers so many of my questions!
    One that I have that I couldnt find the answer to has to do with, if I book a roundtrip using miles CHI-TPE for the stopover I can get in turkey, would I be able to cancel the second half of the trip (return TPE-CHI) if I end up not needing it as long as it is over 21 days before the travel date?
    Or is the 21 day rule for beginning of TOTAL travel (ie. the CHI-TPE portion)?
    Thank you so much for all your research and info!!

  9. looks like these rules have changed quite a bit? an updated post would be really helpful

  10. Any stopovers allowed AFTER booking a round trip international award??

  11. Thanks for the article on free one ways and open jaws Early this year I made reservations for my family for this summer. From the East Coast to London. From Frankfurt back to the East Coast. And from The East Coast to the West Coast. Originally they were four economy saver awards. Since then I change two of the tickets from Frankfurt to the East Coast to saver Business first awards, but there was no equivalent saver tickets for the East to West coast one way at this time. Is there a good way to get the upgrade to business/first class if they come available?

  12. Don’t know if it was as great way, but sent email to the United Mileageplus Service desk and they sent it to a reservation specialist. The specialist put us on the waitlist with no fuss. Can see it in my reservation now. Still great article.

  13. An agent with United just told me that I can do stop overs. I have tried many sample itin. and keeps saying an error. Tried Amsterdam-sfo with stop in NY for a week. I used multiple-destination (agent said to) but wasn’t working. I tried a few different ones, including a europe stop. Didn’t work. Is it supposed to work online using multiple destin. option when booking?
    thanks!!!

  14. Easy as pie, just booked:

    lax-cle-ewr-jfk-bru-fco-cdg-ewr-lax-ogg

    First attempt w/phone agent and got booking fee waived

    Only issue- Darius, it priced at 65,000 points instead of the 62,500 you noted — did prices go up?

  15. can I book these award trips with stopovers myself online, or through customer service only? I just don’t see a way to book it online with ual.comjudy

  16. Hi, Daraius,
    As many readers stated that the rules have changed quite a bit, possible writing an updated post? It will be really helpful!

    Thank you much!!!

  17. Would it also be possible to get ideas on sample routes that have worked? So far, I’ve done LAX to LHR, LHR to Budapest, and then open jaw from Prague back to LAX. I would like to try and go to Asia from LAX….with an included stop or destination in Manila (and am very open to include other asian countries in the itinerary).