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INSIDER SECRET: You can pay absolutely ZERO miles to add an extra flight to your itinerary with this trick.
There’s a bit of a transition going on right now as United Airlines eliminates its award chart.
However, the United Airlines Excursionist Perk still works, and remains a terrific way to get tremendous value with your United Airlines miles. This perk allows you to add a free one-way flight to many round-trip and multi-city itineraries!
United Airlines Excursionist Perk Still Works – Here’s the Rundown and Rules
Here’s a quick rundown of the United Airlines Excursionist Perk:
- Add a free one-way flight to a round-trip or multi-city award flight
- The price of your award won’t be any higher
- You can book Excursionist Perk flights online
There are some rules you need to follow:
- All flights must made through a single award booking, and cash tickets do not qualify for this perk
- Your trip must include a second region as defined by United’s 17 regions
- The free flight must occur with a single region
- The free flight must be in a cabin of equal or lesser status
- The final destination region on your ticket must match your originating ticket region
United Airlines Excursionist Perk Example Itineraries
I’ve laid out a couple of itineraries made possible by the United Airlines Excursionist Perk. They’ve got a little flair to them that makes each itinerary unique.
A Trip From the US to Multiple European Cities
I’ve been wanting to visit Europe for a while now, and the Excursionist Perk seems like a great way to visit all of the cities on my bucket list.
Dublin, Paris, Brussels and London are all dream destinations for me, and I can visit all four cities using the itinerary below:
- New York to Paris
- Brussels to London
- Dublin to Boston
One of the best reasons to use the Excursionist Perk with United Airlines rather than flying a similar award with another airline is that United doesn’t add fuel surcharges. In general, you might use a few more miles but save big on fuel surcharges with international flights.
For this itinerary, we start in New York and fly to Paris. Then we could rent a car or ride the train from Paris to Brussels. From there, we make use of our free one-way flight and hitch a ride to London! We could then take ground transportation to Dublin where our final flight will bring us to Boston.
You could earn enough miles for the exact itinerary above with the limited-time offer on the United℠ Explorer Card, which comes with up to 60,000 United Airlines miles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements:
- 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Plus, an additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending $8,000 total in the first 6 months of account opening
This offer ends May 16, 2019.
Plus, because the United℠ Explorer Card offers primary car rental insurance, it’s a great way to save money while driving abroad!
You’ll notice that we started our journey in the Mainland US and ended in the Mainland US. And our free one-way flight occurred in a second region, Europe.
Pro tip: Your airports don’t need to align perfectly. If you can drive, take bus or train, or even fly budget airlines between airports, you can create killer itineraries while saving big.
Breaking up a Trip to Hawaii From the East Coast
Maybe this next example is aimed at a specific crowd but some of readers can buy into this itinerary:
- New York to San Francisco (United)
- Oakland to Honolulu (Southwest)
- Honolulu to Maui (United, free)
- Maui to Oakland (Southwest)
- San Francisco to New York (United)
United’s Excursionist Perk counts Hawaii as a different region as the Mainland US. So you could use the Excursionist Perk, paired with the new Southwest flights to Hawaii and the Southwest Companion Pass, to create a dream flight plan.
This could be especially attractive for East Coast folks who will likely want to break up their travel. You may consider breaking up your trip if you’ve got kids, a spouse or family member with flight anxiety, or medical reasons.
You could fly from Newark to San Francisco on United, then fly from Oakland to Honolulu with Southwest using the Companion Pass to have your spouse or friend fly free to Hawaii. Next, island-hop by taking a free one-way flight to Maui from Honolulu on United. Take another Southwest flight from Maui to Oakland and finally fly home from San Fransisco to Newark.
All this travel for 25,000 United Airlines miles and $11.20, plus whatever your Southwest flights cost. Depending on the time and if there’s a promotion, you could find one-way Southwest flights to Hawaii on sale for as little as $49 or less than 2,000 Southwest Points!
This probably isn’t going to entice the folks who want to use 45,000 United miles for non-stop, round-trip flights from Newark to Honolulu. But for those on a miles budget or who really need the break in travel, this could be a wonderful alternative.
With United eliminating its award chart, it’ll be hard to pinpoint the exact price of an award ticket.
Nevertheless, you can get massive value by using the United Airlines Excursionist Perk to snag a free one-way flight! Take a look at our advanced guide to the United Airlines Excursionist Perk.
Folks with flexible calendars who want to explore another country, or anyone who wants to use United Airlines to position themselves for Southwest flights to Hawaii can make use of this perk.
Have you used the Excursionist Perk? We’d love to hear some first-hand experiences!
Here are more guides with tips and tricks for United Airlines miles:
- Find out about United miles value
- Dig into our United Airlines status review
- Our ultimate guide – how to earn United Airlines miles
- Have you ever wondered: Do United Airlines miles expire?
- Our dedicated United Airlines Promotions page
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