To recap, what was said here, with United you get one stopover and two open jaws on a roundtrip ticket.
One of the best parts about United is their stopover and open-jaw rules combined with their awesome search engine. They have one of the most complete Star Alliance award search engines. Plus, it has the ability to search and book multiple-destinations and multiple stops all online.
There are two advantages to being able to do this online. The first and most obvious one is the simple ability to search. For a lot of people, it’s a good way to learn what a legal stopover routing is. The second is simply to avoid the $25 phone booking fee. Personally, it’s just fun to search online. Odd?
Searching is easy. Just go to United.com and check “Award Travel,” then click “Multiple Destinations”
Let’s just plan a hypothetical trip from Chicago to Europe. Let’s see London, Paris and Rome. The best way to do this might be to make London/Paris our stopover and Rome our destination. London to Paris will be the “open-jaw” part of the trip, as an open-jaw is essentially the part of the ticket in which you are responsible for your own transportation. The nice thing here is that you can add the open-jaw to a stopover or a destination, or both. In this case we’ll make London/Paris our stopover and an open-jaw.
It will look like this:
Next we simply have to pick the dates and enter them into the Multiple Destination search. It’s hopefully pretty straight forward. In our hypothetical case, it will look like this:
Remember a few things:
- Stopovers and destinations can be as long as you want. You don’t need to follow a similar timeline to what I’ve just laid out.
- You are responsible for getting from London to Paris. Take the train, Ryanair, or whatever you’d like, but United is allowing you to leave a gap in that ticket (again, called an “open-jaw”).
- Make sure “Award” is checked before you hit search.
- Stopovers, if done correctly, do not add any extra costs to the ticket. The price in miles should be the same as a roundtrip ticket to Rome. However, you do have to pay airport taxes on every airport you depart from. In this case you’ll have to pay the airport taxes for Chicago, Paris and then Rome.
One thing you’ll first notice about the multiple destination tool is that it does not show you the price of each seat. Instead it’s waiting to price the ticket. Just select “Saver Award” for your desired class of travel, all the way through your ticket. I’m going to click the blue “Saver Award” for each leg of travel until I get to the final pricing screen.
Sometimes you may find that you’re having trouble finding availability when using the Multiple-Destination tool. I actually had to change the date for the second leg of the trip. This could be because of the dates or it could be that United’s system is a little glitchy. We’ll talk about a few of the details of booking stopovers next. In the mean time, I encourage you to play around with the Multiple-Destination tool.
A couple take-aways or things to try:
- Add open-jaws to different parts of the ticket. An open-jaw could also be a gap between Rome and Florence. An open-jaw could be returning to New York instead of Chicago.
- I picked a fairly normal route to do a stopover, but sometimes you can touch three regions this way. For example Europe as a stopover on the way to Africa. Or you can have a stopover in your own country on the way home – like a stopover in DC on the way to Chicago.
- Despite what you would think is logical, United’s system does allow you to do a fair amount of backtracking. A friend recently booked a trip to Ireland and Scotland and was surprised that the computer let him route through Frankfurt three times on one ticket.
But baby steps first. Just see if you can add a stopover to a desired trip and get it to price correctly. Here is United’s award chart. Check and make sure that your final price is the same as a roundtrip between those regions would be. Again, we’ll talk about better ways to check for award availability next.
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
- Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Travel
The official sign-up bonus for this card isn’t very high at 30,000 miles after $1,000 spent. Look out for a higher offer via email or check this FT thread.
The card has been enhanced with zero foreign transaction fees, making it convenient to earn miles while traveling abroad.
Cardholders get a ton of freebies to offset the $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year: a free checked bag for the cardholder and a companion traveling on the same reservation; priority boarding; two lounge passes each year; double miles on United ticket purchases; and 10,000 bonus every calendar year when $25,000 is spent.
- Start with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Check your first bag for free - save up to $100 per roundtrip
- Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with two one-time-use passes every year
- No foreign transaction fees!
- Earn double miles on United ticket purchases, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Your miles don't expire as long as you're a Cardmember, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
- Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95