New United Stopover Tricks! (The Roundtrip Hack)

New United Stopover Tricks! (The Roundtrip Hack)

This post is about the tricks and crazy stopover routes that you can now do with United miles… thanks to their new changes.

Yesterday I talked about the New United Routing Rules. That was about how things price, why, and what you can and can’t do. I recommend reading it if you really want to understand the following tricks.

However, I think you’ll find this post way more interesting! It’s all about how to get a stopover on a oneway (sorta).

My Summary Of New United Routing Rules

Taken from my last post, here are the new United routing rules:

  1. One free segment per booking.
  2. Free segment has to be in the same region (but different than the region of origin).
  3. Booking must return to region of origin.
  4. 1 stopover per booking, openjaws are allowed.
  5. As many segments are allowed as you want, you just pay for them all like you would a bunch of separately booked oneways.

The tricks I shared yesterday talked about:

  • How you can have unlimited open-jaws.
  • How you can open-jaw anywhere – like fly into Rome and out of Bangkok.
  • How the very first segment within a single region is the free segment.
  • How your free segment can be up to the class of the previous segment (regardless of it’s length).

But today I want to add a few concepts that could lead to a bunch of fun.

Roundtrip Hack: End in the same region.

Notice that one of the rules I mentioned was that the booking must return to the region of origin.

In fact, this isn’t my rule, but this one was published by United… and it’s quite telling. It specifically says, “Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.”

It just needs to end there.

And remember, since you can use as many open-jaws as you want, you don’t have to return to the same city… just the same region.

In other words, you’re allowed your free segment as long as your trip ends in the region you started in. In most cases, it’s the US.

So if you start in the US, you get a free segment (provided that the stopover and destination are in the same region) when your booking ends in the US as well.

In this case we started in the US, and got our free segment in Asia (Bangkok to Singapore), because we also ended in the US.

The Big Reason – Biz/First

Let’s say we want to do a big trip to Africa, meaning we want to visit two destinations – like Kenya and South Africa.

And let’s also say we have fine taste (as many of you do), and want to travel in Business Class.

But a ticket to Africa in Business is 80,000 miles ! But let’s say you only have 100,000 miles. Not enough for an economy ticket back… but if you do a oneway, you don’t get the free stopover in Kenya.

Actually… the hypothetical doesn’t matter… here’s the trick.

  • EWR – NBO (in business) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business) = 0
  • MEX – WAS (in economy) = 17.5k

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 10.18.02 PM

Essentially, what I’m trying to do is get the intra Africa flight (NBO – CPT) for free, as it’s 8 hours direct and normally 35,000 miles. And the way we get that flight for free is by making it a “roundtrip”, or rather, we end in US (the region of origin).

The 10,000 Mile Question

Taking the last example, let’s say we don’t really want to need a ticket from Mexico back to the US to qualify for the roundtrip…

Well, I’ve got news. Unlike the old rules that required the last segment to be an international trip, the new rules just require that the last city is in the region of origin. In this case, the very last city we end in just has to be in the US region.

In other words, the last oneway segment can be a domestic flight.

New Example:

Let’s take the same example as above but modify the last segment.

So we start in New York and fly to Nairobi, Kenya, and then fly to Cape Town, South Africa.

What I tried was to add a domestic segment at the end.

  • EWR – NBO (in business class) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business class) = 0
  • WAS – ORD (in economy) = 10k

Actually, the only reason I did WAS – ORD was to make it clear on the map that this was a different segment than the Africa trip. Because the first and last city are in the US, the trip qualifies for the one free segment.

The real goal here is to get a stopover on a oneway by tacking on a cheap flight you can use later.

You’re paying 10,000 miles in this case to get the stopover in Africa. However, you can really set the domestic flight for any time, so you can have a date you can actually use.

And if you live in New York and thus started your Africa trip in NYC, you could totally end the trip by tacking on a DC to NYC flight months out. Or you could tack on a NYC to DC flight. Doesn’t matter which route or when, just as long as the last city is in the region of origin (in this case, the US).

Combining Trips

While the very last segment has to end in the US, you could totally make it a roundtrip.

In other words, you could tack on a roundtrip you’re planning to take later onto this trip Africa trip.


  • EWR – NBO (in business class) = 80k
  • NBO – CPT (in business class) = 0
  • WAS – MEX (in economy) = 17.5K
  • MEX – ORD (in economy) = 17.5k

Or course, you’d need a ticket from Cape Town (CPT) to get back to the US, but you could use a different set of miles.

The disadvantage of this is that your Mexico City (MEX) trip wouldn’t be allowed to have an additional free segment. You’re only allowed one free segment per booking. But if you booked the roundtrip to Mexico City as a separate booking, you could add a stopover.

But if you know that trip is going to be shorter, it might be worth to tack it on in order to get a free segment in Africa.

Point is, if you want to book a oneway with a stopover, you can tack on a different roundtrip as long as it ends in the US. This allows the earlier stopover, and you can book the later trips as far out as you want.

The Golden Goose

I just realized another implication. Let’s put it all together…

It started in a comment in yesterday’s post where someone lamented not being able to stopover in Europe on the way to Africa. And while that’s true, I thought of the next best way to do it.

US to Europe. Then Africa to Africa for free.

Remember the first segment in a single region is free.

Plus, you can open-jaw anywhere.

So I tried booking a flight to Europe, and then booking a flight within “South/Central Africa”. Plus, then tag on the 10k WAS – ORD to make it a roundtrip.

Sure enough, the US to Europe flight priced 30k, and then the Africa – Africa flight was free.


The reason I picked BCN and DKR is because there is a OneWorld / Avios flight from MAD – DKR. It’s only 10,000 Avios.

But there are tons of other examples you can try. Or if you ever see a cheap flight to the Central / South Africa region, that could be another way to fill the gap.

(Obviously I could have booked EWR – MAD).

Therefore, a oneway to Cape Town with a stopover in Spain and Dakar is 40,000 miles: 30k UA miles and 10k BA Avios.

The Business Class Version, and Why

If you didn’t know, United has two different award charts. One for United flights and another for Star Alliance Partners.

A business class to Africa is 70k on United, and 80k if a partner is involved on any segment. But the problem is that this route isn’t possible without partners.

Then business class to Europe is 57.5k on United and 70k on partners.

The brilliant part.

But the brilliant part here is 1) United prices Multi-City tickets segment by segment now, and 2) you could do the first leg on United (for the cheaper price) and get the second leg on a partner (more expensive) will be free!

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.50.10 AM

This shows a business class ticket to Cape Town (on Ethiopian) for 57.5k, when it would normally be 80k.

Obviously it’s not perfect because it needs another ticket to Dakar. But it’s an example, and it’s a start.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 10.49.55 AM

Updated map

Therefore the route would really look like this (Avios in green):

  • EWR – BCN (in business) = 57.5k (United miles)
  • MAD – DKR (in economy) = 10k (Avios)
  • DKR – CPT (in business) = 0
  • WAS – ORD (in economy) = 10k (United miles)

Total = 67.5k United miles and 10,000 BA Avios.

Let me be clear. To be a roundtrip you have to end in the US, but you could easily book a flight back from Cape Town. Cape Town to the US would be 40,000 United miles.

And the other thing to add is that this concept would work anywhere. US to Mexico and then a free flight within the Caribbean… or whatever.

Conclusion: The Big Concept

This works with all classes.

The same trips would have worked with other region combinations, the important thing is to end in the US (or wherever your region of origin was).

The trick today was that you get a stopover (or rather, a free segment) if you end in the same region you started in.

It doesn’t have to come from the same place as your destination, and it doesn’t have to be an international flight. The important thing is what the very last city in the booking is.

If you take the last post on the New United routing rules, and now this post, you’ll have all the tools you need to book an awesome ticket using United miles.

Next Monday I’ll give a post on some of the best and most creative stopover tickets you can now book with United miles.

I hope you’ll come back Monday to see the practical application of all these tricks!

Dear Bloggers, just a reminder – if you are writing about a trick or rule that you read about on this blog, you * should * give a backlink and credit. Thanks.