You can get more trips from your United miles by using free stopovers, open-jaws, and one-ways!
The Ultimate Guide To United Miles Index
- Part 1 – Earning Lots Of United Miles
- Part 2 – Introduction To United Miles
- Part 3 – Understanding The United Award Chart
- Part 4 – United Award Costs/Fees
- Part 5 – Using United Website For Awards
- Part 6 – Stopovers, Open-Jaws, and Free One-Ways
- Part 7 – Using The ANA Website To Find Star Alliance Award Seats
- Part 8 – All The Ways To Get To Europe!
- Part 9 – The Best Tip For Searching On United.com
- Part 10 – All The Ways To Get To Japan, North Asia & South Asia
- Part 11 – All The Ways To Get To Australia, New Zealand, & Oceania!
- Part 12 – All The Ways To Get To The Caribbean, Central & South America
- Part 13 – All The Ways To Get To India
- Part 14 – North America United Awards (Including Canada And Hawaii)
- Part 15 – All The Ways To Get To Africa
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.
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.
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
(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
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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!
Cheap One-Ways To Hawaii
You can even use your one-way to go to Hawaii, for an extra 2,500 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.
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.
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:
- St. Eustatius and Saba
- Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman)
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
- St. Kitts-Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Maarten
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Virgin Islands (British and U.S.)
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!
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.