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This blog became famous because I was the first to articulate how to book free one ways on United and US Airways awards.
A free one way is a one way trip to or from your home airport that is tacked onto another award for no extra miles. Free one ways cut your flight bill in half for a second trip without adding to the price of the first trip!
American Airlines killed free one ways on its awards in April 2014 by nixing all free stopovers because free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport. Delta killed its free one ways on January 1, 2015 with the elimination of free stopovers on its awards (though in return, we do now get to book one way Delta awards.)
What’s the current state of free one ways with major frequent flyer programs?
If you get confused during this post, please read my Introduction to Free One Ways.
Free one ways are possible on one way Alaska Airlines awards. That means you can book two free one ways per roundtrip awards.
Alaska has an amazing group of partners:
- Alaska Airlines
- Horizon Air
- Air France
- American Airlines
- British Airways (fuel surcharges)
- Ravn Alaska (flights within Alaska)
- PenAir (flights within Alaska)
Unfortunately you must book only one partner each one way award (you may add Alaska Airlines flights as well.) And unfortunately most Alaska Airlines awards need to either start or end in the United States.
Abide by those rules, though, and enjoy some amazing free one way opportunities.
For full details, see Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards.
Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with American Airlines miles. Free one ways always rely on a free stopover at your home airport, and American has eliminated the chance to take any free stopovers on awards.
Free one ways are impossible on awards booked with Avios. Every flight on an Avios award has a mileage cost (determined exclusively by its distance and the cabin you book.) If every flight has a cost, there’s no way to get one for free as a free one way.
Free one ways are impossible on Delta awards since stopovers were eliminated on January 1, 2015.
Free one ways are possible on both international United awards and awards between the mainland and Hawaii. Free one ways are not possible on awards wholly within the mainland United States and Canada.
You can either have a free one way BEFORE your main roundtrip award TO your home airport or AFTER your main roundtrip award FROM your home airport.
United’s routing rules are pretty lenient for free one ways. You can do some amazing backtracking. You can also do “cheap one ways” where you fly the extra leg to a distant land and pay far fewer miles than you “should.”
You will get a lot of errors trying to book free one ways on united.com because united.com’s multi-city search tool is broken. Don’t despair. Find all the space you need with one way searches, then call in to book.
For full details, see Master Thread: Free One Ways on United Awards.
While American, US Airways (by ending its mileage program), and Delta killed its free one ways recently, and free one ways have never been possible with Avios, free one ways are still possible on awards booked with United and Alaska miles.