Free Oneways on United Awards

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Yesterday, I wrote about how to book free stopovers online on your United awards. While researching for that post, I made a typo that caused me to discover a loophole that allows us to get free oneway flights on United awards in much the same way we can get free oneways on American Airlines awards! This discovery completely changes the way I’ll be booking United awards from now on.

Getting these free oneways requires taking advantage of United’s booking rules that allow one stopover and two open jaws for international awards from the US. And being able to book these free oneways online requires understanding how to book free stopovers online, so if you haven’t read yesterday’s post on that subject, read it now.

Here’s the idea: You can use one stopover and one open jaw to construct a free oneway on a United award. Example:

Andy lives in Washington, DC.

On February 6, 2013, Andy flies from Washington-Dulles to Munich, Germany (IAD-MUC)

On February 20, 2013, Andy flies from Zurich, Switzerland to Washington-Dulles (ZRH-IAD)

In business class this award is 100,000 miles. Andy has taken advantage of a free open jaw by flying into Munich, but returning from Zurich. Andy still has another open jaw and a stopover that he hasn’t used though. With his extra open jaw and stopover, he can tack on a free oneway to anywhere in the continental US, Canada, or Alaska (see the bottom of this post)! The same example with a free oneway:

On February 6, 2013, Andy flies from Washington-Dulles to Munich, Germany (IAD-MUC)

On February 20, 2013, Andy flies from Zurich, Switzerland to Washington-Dulles (ZRH-IAD)

On April 10, 2013, Andy flies from Washington-Dulles to Los Angeles (IAD-LAX) <—Free oneway!

This itinerary also prices out as 100,000 miles, with all legs in business!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of getting one awesome vacation–business class to Europe– for 100,000 miles, Andy is getting one and a half, since he has a free oneway to Los Angeles in business class tacked on for two months later. Now he just needs to buy a oneway back from LA or book a oneway award back.

What if Andy wants to go to Hawaii? Unfortunately Hawaii is not in the same region as the continental US for United awards, but tacking on a oneway to Honolulu does not price as a new award, instead it just adds 2,500 miles to the price of a coach award from the US to Europe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve highlighted the flight times to show that the oneway to Honolulu is actually farther and longer than either of the European legs, but tacking on the oneway to Honolulu at the end only adds 2,500 miles and negligible taxes to a coach award to Europe. A practically free oneway to Hawaii. Why does it price this way, 62,500 miles? United is just adding up the cost of a oneway award from Hawaii to Europe (32,500 miles) and a oneway from the continental US to Europe (30,000 miles).

What about to the Caribbean? The Caribbean is also a separate zone from the continental US for determining miles needed. But amazingly on the United chart, it actually costs fewer miles to get from the Caribbean to Europe than from the continental US to Europe. This is shocking considering the way to get from the Caribbean to Europe on the Star Alliance is by connecting through the US. Here’s a sample free oneway from the Caribbean to the US tacked on before the main European award. “Free” is a bit of a misnomer though, since adding the oneway actually decreased the price of the award by 2,500 miles!

Those of you who are familiar with adding free oneways to American awards know that to do so you must live in an international gateway city. One advantage of United’s free oneways is that you do not need to live in an international gateway city. On this itinerary from Denver to London and back, the international gateway on the return is Philly. So with American miles you could not continue to your home in Denver then stay a few months before continuing to Los Angeles. But with United miles you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to give two more examples of tacking on oneways. The first tacks on a oneway to Sao Paulo after a Newark to Europe itinerary. Normally Newark to Europe roundtrip in coach is 60k miles and Newark to Sao Paulo oneway is 30k in caoch, so booking this as two separate awards would be 90k miles. But if you book this as one multicity award with a “stopover” in Newark, the price drops by 12,500 miles!

 

So far all the examples I’ve given have featured a direct flight after the stopover, but there is nothing magical or necessary about direct flights to exploit a free stopover on United awards. Here’s proof of that:

This is essentially the same award as the previous example: Newark to Europe, Europe to Newark, Newark to Sao Paulo. But the first example had all direct flights and this includes stopovers on two portions. No matter, both awards priced at 77,500 miles (although taxes changed.)

Like I said at the beginning, this will change how I book United awards. From now on, I’ll try to book mostly roundtrips with United to unlock the stopover and two open jaws. I’ll try to avoid using the stopover on the main portion of the award, subbing in an open jaw if necessary, so I can use one open jaw and the stopover to get a free oneway.

How can I substitute an open jaw for a stopover on the main itinerary? Imagine I want to see Frankfurt and Copenhagen on one trip. I could book Newark to Frankfurt, stopover there, fly Frankfurt to Copenhagen (destination) then return Copenhagen to Newark. But by burning my stopover, I can no longer tack on a free oneway at the end.

I’d be better off flying Newark to Frankfurt and returning Copenhagen to Newark on the award, paying for my own Frankfurt to Copenhagen transportation separately. Frankfurt to Copenhagen probably costs under $100, and by buying it separately, I’ve preserved my stopover, preserving my ability to tack on a free oneway worth more than $100.

The free oneway must have some limits. I can’t imagine that as long as you stay within 15% of MPM (airline nerd talk) that you can have a free oneway from where you live to anywhere else in the continental US, Alaska, and Canada. But I haven’t found any routings that don’t price the extra leg(s) as a free one way. For instance, look at this routing:

 

 

Yes, you are reading that right. The return is Lima to Houston to Los Angeles to Santa Barbara (stopover), Santa Barbara to Phoenix to Newark. The return goes west then east within the US. And yet the itinerary prices at 40,000 miles, which is the normal coach roundtrip from the US to Peru. Santa Barbara to Newark is a free oneway.

So you can go crazy flying to the west coast then back to the east. But surely you can’t route through the same city twice in one direction. Apparently you can:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at this itinerary. The return routing is London to Philadelphia to Denver, stopover, Denver to Philadelphia. The return itself goes to Philadephia twice, but the award still prices at 60,000 miles, the normal price for a US to Europe roundtrip award. Despite the free oneway going to a city that’s already been flown through, it still prices as a free oneway award.

Like I said there must be some limits to this amazingly powerful free oneway on United awards, but I haven’t found it. Now that you know the ins and outs of adding a free oneway onto a United award, where will you take your free oneway?

 


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209 COMMENTS

    • If you fly oneway on a United award, you get 0 stopovers and 0 open jaws. Flying roundtrip unlocks the stopover and open jaws necessary to make this work.

  1. That is totally awesome! Now I will really think about saving a precious stopover with an open jaw so that I can have a future free OW to another area! Fantastic!

  2. This is a way cheaper way to shoot for a kind of “around the world” award, say starting from US to Europe (or even visit Asia first, then using Avios or other miles to get to Europe), then back from Europe to US, stopover, then from US to South America…sounds crazy!

  3. Nice to know as I just got a United Explorer and a Saphire, but can you tell me where to find out about the free one way through a gateway on AA. I live in JFK and my wife wants me to take her somewhere using our AA and SPG points but Im having real difficulty achieving this. Any help would be appreaciated.

    • Right here! I’m on my phone, so I can’t link to it, but search for part 2 of my What is an AAdvantage mile worth? series. Also look at my complete list of international gateway cities to see which Oneworld airlines fly internationally from your home airport.

  4. Can you show an example of one starting from US to Asia, the other way around?

    LAX …. NRT….PVG….LHR…LAX
    Possible?

    • It’s only limited by the fact that you can only book travel 330 days in advance on United. The stopover can be one week or 10 months if you’d like.

  5. Great find. I’m trying to do IAD-MAD | MUC-IAD | IAD-DEN. The problem I’m running into is that for the middle leg, MUC-IAD, it is only letting me choose the non-stop flight, and is not giving me the option of changing planes in FRA, LHR, CDG, etc. There is no saver award on the direct flight, but I know there are saver awards on the MUC-FRA-IAD flight.

    Any way around this you know of? FYI, I did try IAD-MAD | FRA-IAD | IAD-DEN and it gave me 60k, so that worked, but again it only let me choose from the non-stop flights on the middle segment.

    • I had some problems with the site while trying to book these. Sometimes errors would end the booking process, and sometimes space I knew was available wouldn’t show up. I would say try a few more times. If that doesn’t work, your best bet may be to call up to book. It’ll take $25 and a few minutes, but it’s better than not getting IAD-DEN for free.

  6. Doing an open jaws in Europe may mean you need to buy a cheap one way ticket from your arrival city to your departure city. Unlike in the US, when you price that out as a one way ticket, it’s going to cost a fortune.

    What you need to do is buy a round-trip ticket, with the flight you want to use as the outbound, and a return of whenever you get the best price. You use the first part of the ticket, then throw away the unwanted return part.

    Just don’t put your frequent flyer number on that ticket, as sometimes airlines are unhappy that you bought a cheap round trip ticket instead of an expensive one way ticket. It’s not illegal to do this, it just makes the airlines unhappy that you paid $100 instead if $800.

    • in some cases you’re right, a r/t may be cheaper than a o/w. good tip not to add your frequent flier number in those cases.

      these days I usually find intra-Europe flight very cheap though with the glut of budget carriers.

  7. So…it seems to work quite well for people that live in hub cities but specifically how can it work for people that don’t? I live in LEX and have a direct to ORD but wouldn’t that take up my potential one way?

    • Check out the example to/from Santa Barbara second to last. SBA is hardly a hub but free one ways are still possible.

      The free one ways are very much achievable for LEX-based flyers.

  8. Great post! I felt like I was watching an infomercial “wait there’s more…you get two open jaws AND a stopover AND an extra bottle of floor polish” I will have to try some of these techniques out for upcoming travel-thanks again

    • I love infomercial tropes, so this observation made me laugh. You should try United Floor Polish. It really is the best.

  9. Any idea if this will work with a live agent via phone? I have a RT Europe to change, and could add the stopover for later on, but I have to change (and pay fee) through a live agent.

    • It should since this is within the routing rules. If the agent balks, politely thank her and hang up. Call back until it works.

    • In coach, that would price at 12,500 for IAD-LAX + 30,000 for LAX-GRU = 42,500, which is 12,500 less than if you booked everything separately. In theory I would consider the LAX-IAD a free oneway on this itinerary.

      See the example in my post of STT-PHL, PHL-LHR, LHR-PHL. It is very possible to get the free oneway to your home airport before the main trip.

  10. Great post, MileValue! Thx for sharing with us. One question: is adding free oneways to American award ticket still workable? What I am concerning about is as more and more people use this kind of ‘tricks’ with American or United, airline may be not happy with that and award ticketing policy might be strict..

    • Yes, free oneways are still workable on both airlines. Maybe the rules will change in the future, but for now knowing how to get the free oneways is crucial for getting the most value out of your awards.

    • Sure the very first example in the post is a r/t biz award to Europe. Sorry the class kind of gets cut off in the screen shot, but you can tell by the 100,000 price.

      It works in all classes.

  11. can’t seem to duplicate it to Asia. tried lax-pek, itm-lax, stop, lax-nyc. did you have any success with asian routes?

  12. Can you change the dates of the future one-way after you take the initial flights? If so, how much does it cost and how far out can you push that OW?

  13. sorry for being slow.. could you show me how to book a one open jaw + 1 stopover round trip on united.com? do you use the “Multiple Destinations” option on the booking page? a few screenshot will be really helpful. thanks.

    • What do you mean by a one open jaw, one stopover routing?

      Something like

      JFK-LIS// (stopover)
      LIS-MAD
      BCN-JFK (open jaw)

      So no free oneway is possible. Is that what you want to see a screen shot of?

  14. like using your example, IAD-MUC, ZRH-IAD and then IDA-LAX on a different date later. i like to know how to book this kind of setup on UA website.. how long the stopover can be (at IDA in this example) before starting the free one-way? thanks!

  15. hi,

    i have 3 more questions:
    1. can the “free oneway” be on the outbound trip, instead of returning trip? for example: LAX-IAD (stop over), IAD-MUC, and then ZRH-IAD for coming back?
    2. BTW does UA (or AA) allow domestic stopover? (this question is not directly related to this “free oneway”..)
    3. i feel IAD-MUC, ZRH-IAD and then IDA-LAX still has just one open-jaw.. could you pls clarify?

    Thanks.

    • 1. Yes, the screen shot STT-PHL, PHL-LHR, LHR-PHL shows this.
      2. If you mean, can you get a stopover on awards within the US, UA and AA don’t allow that. Delta does.
      3. Sure, your departure airport is IAD, which is different from your final airport, LAX. That’s one. Your first arrival airport is MUC, but you don’t leave from there, you leave from ZRH. That’s two.

  16. So I have an existing, round-trip award ticket, using an open-jaw:
    IAD-BCN in business (50k miles)
    MUC-IAD in first (67.5k miles)

    Should I be able to call and add a stopover at the end of my itinerary? Specifically, I am planning a trip to Kauai in February. Could I add an IAD-LIH segment at the end of this existing booking (in first)?

    Do you think I’d get a cooperative agent — this sounds like a wild request?

    Also, would this create a change in the “destination” and result in a $75 change fee?

    • I would frame it as the least wild request I could. “I just found out I need to add a leg at the end.” They might only charge $75, but I’ve heard them invent rules that aren’t on the chart like “this is a major change and requires a $150 cancellation/redeposit/rebooking fee.” If you try, please report back on what fee was charged.

      And don’t be afraid to say thanks, hang up, and try a second agent.

      • Thanks, I’ll let you know. I’ve got to pin down my dates before I call, but will keep you updated.

        Thanks for all of your information — found you blog Friday (thanks to Mommy Points’ post) and have been seriously impressed by the amount of crazy good information you have shared in the past three days.

  17. I tried to convert my Denver-Zurich Frankfurt-Denver Business/First and add Hawaii as a stopover; spent 95 minutes with a rep and a supervisor and they adamantly refused to make the change even with added miles. I could do within the 48, but not Hawaii, and since I was changing an existing reservation, had to pay a $75pp fee. Finally just hung up. I’ll try again another day. I have a headache.
    Neat to know that it will work for continental US, but still up in the air on the Hawaii part. Maybe if I had done this from the start, and online????

    • Would they have let you add Hawaii for the $75 fee? Because technically, you are changing the destination, which is subject to a $75 on the award fee chart. Or were they just flat out refusing to add Hawaii to your itinerary?

      I’m in the same boat — have a IAD-BCN // MUC-IAD book award in biz and first that I want to add a segment to Hawaii on to for IAD-LIH. I’m fully prepared to pay a $75 fee if it means F to Kauai! Please keep us updated on how this pans out!

      • Exactly what I was wondering. Keep us posted on the call back. Yes, if you had booked the free oneway online it would have worked. By the way, when calling, I would not use the term “free oneway.” I would say, “I want to change the arrival airport. I understand this incurs a fee that I am willing to pay. I want to change the arrival airport to HNL. Keep all the other flights as is, and please add flight 123 on day XX//YY.” If they question you, say that you understand you are allowed 2 open jaws and 1 stopover, and that’s all you’re getting.

        • I acknowledged the need to pay the fee plus the added miles. Your post says 2500 addl.for coach, so in an online search I gleaned 7500 addl. for Bus/First which is what we have to Europe. They said that since it is out of the region of the 48 states there is no way I can do it. Argued with a supervisor (Phillipines) til we were both getting a little hot, so I said thanks and hung up. I’ll try again this evening and will let you know how it works.

    • It should work for trips regardless of origination, though I didn’t actually search any such trips. Roundtrips outside the US still have 2 open jaws and one stopover, so we can still convert one stopover and one openjaw into a free oneway

      • So theoretically

        Jakarta to Melbourne (stopover for 2 months)
        Melbourne to Auckland
        Christchurch to Shanghai

        could work as 2 open jaws and one stopover, right?

        Now if only I can find availability!

        • Theoretically this could work. But United is run by the almighty computer. If the computer won’t price it, good luck getting an agent to manually override the computer.

  18. So I tried mixing in your great find with the recent great find of Qatar air to mle but I end up w booking errors and a note to call united. I’m trying NYC to mle. Mle to NYC. NYC to lax or Hnl. Dates didn’t seem to matter, the error message pops up after I tried selecting flight for the first segment. Any idea why? Does this idea not work w partner airlines?

    • It works with partner airlines. Many of us got more errors than usual using united.com to book free oneways. Searching oneway at a time to find dates with availability then searching multicity those dates helped in some cases. In others, you just have to find the availability online then call up to book.

  19. Follow up. IT WORKED! I contacted UA again tonight and found an extremely helpful agent (In India). 10 minute wait at 10PM Denver time, and 1 hr 20 on the phone, but he changed my reservation to fly Milan to Frankfurt and back to Denver, then added Honolulu as my final destination. There was an added 7500 miles each to book business class to HNL but no change charge. He actually refunded me $3.24 per ticket! We fly home from Europe in Sept. and then the Hawaii leg is next April. I’ll use BA miles for the flight home on American.
    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

    • Awesome, I’m so glad to hear it! This should have incurred a change fee. Any explanation why it didn’t? Any tips? Sounds like you’ve got a great vacation and a half planned!

  20. Thank you for all the awesome info. I was trying out some routes and was successful in pricing this itinerary out on the website (65K miles in Y). But it errors out when I proceed to purchase.

    PVG – SEA
    PDX – PVG
    PVG – HAN

    Called the 1K line. They weren’t successful either. What are your thoughts?

  21. I even opened the call saying that I knew I would incur a change fee and additional miles, but once he started changing the tickets he acknowledged the 7500 additional miles for the business class seats, and said there were no additional taxes, and that I would actually get a $3.24 refund per seat. I wasn’t about to ask him if I should be charged the change fee!
    Thanks again. This was the most helpful post I have seen from any mileage site. Good job!

  22. Pretty new to this, so thanks for these excellent posts! They’re very helpful. Does it count as an open jaw if I route through two airports in the same city, like HND and NRT?

  23. I am trying to book IAD-CDG, BRU-IAD and trying to add my free oneway from IAD to ?? No mater which destination I choose the page always comes up with no available flights even though I check those flights separately and I can see there is availability. Any ideas ?

  24. I’m having a heck of a time trying to book one of these. Trying to do BOS>CUN, CUN>BOS, STOPOVER, BOS>CDG. I see plenty of availability when I check each flight individually but like Martin, don’t see it when I set it up as a multi-city. When I call United they tell me booking all of this on a single itinerary isn’t possible. Am I missing something obvious?

  25. This is awesome!

    Any experience on whether it’s possible to combine pre-existing one-ways into a round-trip, in order to take full advantage? I have X-Y, and Y-X as two separate one-way award bookings… can I combine them into a X-Y-X roundtrip, so that I can then make it X-Y-X-Z?

      • I’ve got high enough status that the change fees are waived… unfortunately, since my over-water legs are on a partner, they weren’t able to combine my one-ways (would need to book a new ticket on the partner, and there’s no availability right now). Now we play the “wait to see if availability opens up again” game…

  26. If I book ewr-cun-ewr- lax (open jaw) and after flying first two legs i want to change lax to hnl can i also do that ?

    • I don’t know. I think you can do it for $75 and 2,500 miles (the dif in miles between CUN-LAX and CUN-HNL), but the fee page at united.com doesn’t address this and I can’t get an answer I trust from an agent.

  27. Hi, I have a booked trip already for a family of 6 all using saver awards. It’s a plain vanilla 65k redemption from EWR to MNL connecting in NRT for December. I am reading your post and would like to take advantage of adding a one way to SAN from EWR. Does United treat changes to reservations as “new reservations?” Meaning does the current reservation get cancelled and a new reservation get booked? My concern is that award redemption for these dates and itinerary is not available anymore because it’s a peak period to MNL. I do not want to get bounced from any flights when I have something secure already due to an agent’s mishandling of the booking. Worth the risk? 6*250 = $1500 in potential savings of a trip to SAN I always going to take anyways.

    • Call and try. Say this: “Hi I want to add one leg to my itinerary.” Give the date and flight time of EWR-SAN, and see what they tell you you have to pay to add it. If they try to increase the miles, don’t make the change. The fee should be $75 per person, but I’ve had agents forget to charge that when the mileage price of the award doesn’t change.

      • Thanks for the advice. I will let you know how it goes. Do you know how to check the maximum allowed distance for travel? Would be great to stretch this HNL.

        • call United to ask or expertflyer.com (paid service). on many routes, Hawaii isn’t exactly a free oneway on United–just a cheap oneway.

  28. I’m trying valiantly to squeeze three trip out of “two” redemptions using free stopovers/open jaws. I’m about halfway there. My ideal DOJ would be as follows:

    LIM-EWR(stop)-MXP//FCO-EWR.

    This prices out, at the saver level, at 115k miles per person in business class. Is this the best I can do? I’m a little surprised because a one-way from LIM-EWR seems to be 35k, and a r/t C1-C2 seems to be 105k right there. So I’m not really sure how I was quoted 115k but it seems to be a decent deal (not as good as the AA sAAver awards but still…)

  29. Great advice here!!!

    Just starting to get into looking at options for an extended vacation for me and my family in early 2014 and need to decide if I am going through United’s or Alaska’s FF programs. Trip will be to the south island of New Zealand. Any tips on how to get some cheaper award tickets?

    • It will be almost impossible to get an Air New Zealand flight with United miles, so look to connect in Sydney to Air New Zealand after getting there on United.

      • Ahhhh…very interesting idea. I like it. May try to work in some time in Australia for this trip. Thanks for the tip.

      • now for one more question…..getting business or first class for cheaper than 150,000 miles standard award per person? At least, that’s what united.com comes up with for PDX-SDY….through SFO.

        By modifying dates, I did get a cheaper option…but I’m guessing that 80,000 miles for the saver award is the cheapest United offers?

        Thank you so much for the tips. Your site is very helpful.

        • Yes, 80k is the r/t economy price USA-Australia on United. 135k is the r/t biz, and 160k is the r/t first. Don’t get the 150k economy!

  30. Say you add the oneway 6 months after your RT. Can you then change the date of the OW after you’ve completed your RT? Thanks.

      • Thanks for your web site and tip. By reading it, I was able to book Seattle to Shanghai -> Shanghai to Shenzen -> Saigon to Seattle all on our award travel. Without your web site, I would have never known that I could have used Shanghai as a ‘stopover’ city. You saved me hundreds of dollars!

  31. not working for me
    rdu-mow (outgoing)
    mow-rdu (return, stopover)
    rdu-anywhere. (“free one-way”)
    Tried gso instead of RDU — not working (error message after selecting the outgoing flights and before choosing the return). IAD works.
    I wonder if they pulled stopovers in minor cities and pnly allow them on hubs now?

    Great post overall, very useful!

  32. Thanks for your great posts.

    Is there ever anyway to take advantage of the free one-way when redeeming a United award ticket for international one-way travel? We’re going from CDG to LAX (one way) at 30,000 miles, and trying to see if United would allow (like AA does) a free one way using LAX as our stopover. Thanks!

  33. I have two one-way international awards with united. Can I combine those two as round-trip and use free stopover?
    Thanks for your help.

  34. Very helpful post! I’ve been exclusively using AA miles for international trips (because of the domestic gateway stopover rule and I fly from NYC), but having recently come into some United miles, I finally started doing some research.

    Looks like United miles are a better way to see multiple international destinations at the same time since international stopovers are allowed.

    Quick question:
    For the 2 open jaws, can only one of them be international?

    For instance, I can’t get [NYC->LON; PAR->ROM; VCE->NYC] to work even though I believe I only have 2 open jaws and a stopover. Perhaps United is thinking that I have 2 stopovers in this case?

    As an example of an itinerary with 2 open jaws and one stopover (but with only one international open jaw), I have no problems with booking [NYC->LON; PAR->ROM; ROM->ATL].

  35. This is amazing, but I can’t seem to make it work. I’m trying to book DEN-SNA, extended stopover, then LAX-BKK, BKK-LAX. Once I tried and it came up as a RT and one-way. Every other time I’ve tried, I have just gotten errors. Is this not do-able? Thank you so much! Your site is great!

  36. Is this possible ? CLE-IAH(24hr)-MEX(stop)-MID (Merida, Mexico-destination)-back to CLE and additional segment from CLE – YVR ? It keeps giving me an error as probably too many segments.

  37. I tried a few of your examples and it worked great, so thanks! BUT.. when I tried to go from SFO or LAX to NRT or HND and then add a free one-way the united site craps out..

  38. So I couldn’t get a free stopover in Melbourne between Jakarta and Auckland, but what about stopping somewhere between Jakarta and Melbourne? How can I find what airports are available as free stopovers?

  39. I was able to do LAX-CDG(OJ)-MAD-LAX(SO)-OGG and OGG-LAX(SO)-CUN-LAX successfully. My LAX-OGG stopover is 4 months and my OGG-LAX stopover is about 3 months. I am essentially taking doing 3 RT’s (LAX-Europe, LAX-OGG, and LAX-CUN) for 100K miles. Seperately they would have cost me 135K.

  40. Can you do one-way international bookings?
    flying to GIG in Feb. found lowest redemption at 30K on Feb 13th, looking to throw in a YYZ or NYC prior to that date…
    so YYZ to DFW to GIG for 30K?
    Is one way extra stop possible?

    Keep in mind. AA works this way(one way international redemption).
    I’m looking to fly United to GIG but back with AA(as they have direct/redeye to work). Looking to add a few leg each direction.
    Tried on United, getting error saying no available flights. I checked each leg separately and confirmed both are under the lowest redemption requirement.
    Any ideas?

  41. You mention that it is acceptable to ‘transit the same city twice’ on UA award tickets. Is that allowed routing on a one-way ticket w/o stopovers i.e. just 20-ish-hour transits? An example EWR-MUC-TXL-FRA-AMS-MUC(second time transiting)-BKK? The total miles comes in under the total allowed MPM. Advance thanks

  42. I keep getting error messages.

    Here is what I’m considering:
    WAS>VIE
    VIE>MLE
    CTU>WAS
    WAS>PDX
    or
    WAS>CTU
    SIN>MLE
    MLE>WAS
    WAS>PDX

  43. I don’t know why, but your method is not working for me…

    I tried to book the exact trip you specified in the example : IAD-MUC, ZRH-IAD, IAD-HNL, and the cost is 125,000 Miles and $273.00

    Tried different dates and still not working.. Did United figure out a way to make it impossible ?

    Thanks for the post!

  44. Search for tickets from EWR-FRA (roundtrip) leaving Oct 3rd, 2013 and returning Oct 10th, 2013. Lots of Economy Saver seats available and the award prices out at 60K miles and around $120.

    Multi-city search for OGG-EWR on August 3rd and then EWR-FRA on Oct 3rd and FRA-EWR on Oct 10th (EWR-FRA and FRA-EWR dates same as above). 1 flight on the OGG-EWR leg with NO economy saver. EWR-FRA Economy savers disappear and only get a couple of flights to chooses from. FRA-EWR options remain the same.

    Award prices out at 90K miles (due to no Economy saver) and around $120.

    What is going on? Thanks

  45. Great blog, MileValue! I have just found it.
    I live in Rio de Janeiro and was wondering how could I maximize my miles using your wonderful tips. I have 200k miles in my credit card that I could send to Advantage American Airlines to fly USA this year. Any idea of how to maximize this award using economy class? We are thinking of visiting SFO this time. But any city with a good deal award sugestion will be apreciated! I have flown GIG-CUN/MIA-GIG with Mileage Plus last october with my family of 5. If I knew your blog at that time maybe I could have done a much better to deal. Thanks for sharing with us.

      • Hi MileValue,
        Citibank credit cards do it in Brazil and until last august we could ticket AA awards with Gol Airlines’s mileage program (Smiles).

  46. I’m having trouble getting this to work on united.com for a European award I’m trying to book. I’m trying DFW-FCO, stopover, FCO- CDG, open jaw, LHR-DFW. I’m getting the “can’t find flights” error, but I checked all of the segments individually and there was availability. Am I missing something?

  47. I have been playing around with this, and it seems to me that United.com can only handle these kind of awards on United metal. Is that your experience too? I notice all your screenshots show great trips but all United metal too. I am trying to put together an award and I know that segment by segment it’s available but anything involving a partner just does not compute

    • I haven’t noticed that it has to be United metal. But I can’t think of any awards that show partner metal and free oneways. Test it out with something really simple like JFK-FRA, FRA-JFK, JFK-CLT on Luft, Luft, US to test out whether partners can work.

  48. Hey Scott.. Was so nice meeting you in LA 🙂
    I wanted to ask this. I added a free OW to my PHX-BOM-PHX ticket of PHX-FLL for October. Now changed mind to visit some friends in DAY so called to change the OW to PHX-DAY since there is plenty of saver economy avl, but was told that it would cost 75/person so 300$ fees to change. How can I tell them that FLL or DAY was not my final destination, it is PHX, so they wont charge me fees for the free OW destination change?

  49. Hey Scott…Is this a valid itinerary to get a free one way on United. I’m trying your free one way tip on United for the first time and I’m a little anxious if United is going to honor this itinerary.
    April 9: ORD – PTY
    April 20: PTY – ORD
    Oct 16: ORD – OGG
    UAL search returned 37.5k + $65.00

  50. Trying to tack on a free one way to my France trip.. AUS-CDG-LYS-AUS and then AUS-LAX . possible? Thank you in advance? the website errors out:(

  51. Finally got around to using this, and noticed that adding a free one-way on awards to the Carribean seems to be a real sweet spot!

    For instance, this is 60k miles in Business class:
    NYC – CUN
    CUN – NYC
    You can off course add a domestic one-way for free, or you can add an award to Hawaii for just an additional 7.5k miles! That’s 67.5k miles for an award that would cost 100k if booked separately.

    In summary, it’s one thing to get a free one-way worth 25k miles on the back of a 100k ticket to Europe. But for awards to the Carribean you can get that on the back of a 60k ticket! Or, get a cheap one-way to Hawaii and do even better!

    • Is the following legal?
      Lax-fra
      Vie-nrt
      Nrt-lax

      I’m expecting it to price out to 110k on business but can’t get it to work. Thanks

      • United tends not to allow you to cross the Atlantic and Pacific on one award. But you can sometimes talk them into it.

  52. I was trying to do
    BOS-FCO, AMS-BOS, BOS-AUA (or BWO or SEA) got an error for all the free one way. Called united and they said I cant add the one way. Have the rules changed?

    • AUA is not in the North American zone, so that wouldn’t work easily. Not sure what BWO is, but if you meant BWI (or anything other than BOS), you’d have 3 open jaws and an illegal routing.

  53. Hi Scott,
    If you are booking at the 330 day window and your oneway is 6 months out will they hold the award so you can book when it becomes available like you mention with the AA awards. Thanks

  54. hi Scott,
    i’m trying to price out this united extra one-way but it’s not working. is it because i’m over the MPM? any comments appreciated

    YYZ-HKG destination
    HKG-PEK connection
    PEK-YYZ home
    YYZ-SFO extra one-way

  55. Will this count as a normal international round trip?

    SFO -> EWR -> TPE -> SFO? It’s not really a prepended nor appended leg.

    Thanks

  56. I suppose most of your readers reside in the U.S., but like me, maybe all of us are not in the U.S. Could you consider figuring out and posting how things work for other departure regions, or is it know for sure that this game only works for U.S. departures? Living in Asia, I have no trouble booking exciting tickets with United, getting an open jaw over in Europe, for example, and getting a stopover in SE Asia or the Middle East on the way back to Japan, but other scenarios are proving impossible. Here is an example of something that does not seem to work: NRT-YVR, YVR-NRT, NRT-BKK(my bonus one-way at a later date).

    Actually, departing from Japan, this idea of using a second open jaw and getting a bonus one-way does not seem to work for any itinerary.

  57. As an update to my previous post, I am finding that with my NRT departures, the system seems very sensitive to repeated use of a city, meaning, for example, that it will not accept NRT-YVR NRT-BKK, but it will accept NRT-YVR SFO-NRT-BKK. The system also will not accept an open jaw in Canada, at least not if YVR is passed through when entering and leaving Canada.

  58. Doesn’t the negative miles trip to Caribbean end with the new United charts, which raise Caribbean-Europe redemption? Just making sure I have it right. If so that sucks!

  59. Hi – So I am looking at the following itinerary but the United site is not allowing me to price it. I suspect it has to do with using their partner airlines/different fare classes but maybe you see something glaringly obvious that I dont?

    10/1/14 JFK-MUC on LF (direct)
    10/10/14 CDG-JFK on EI (stops in dublin)
    2/6/15 JFK-LAX on UA (direct)

    Pricing out the multi-city allows the open jaw roundtrip for 60k miles, but when I try to add on the one-way to LAX, I get an error after picking the first leg flight. I called United and the very nice customer service lady said that she didnt even see the Aer Lingus flight in her database, but it’s on the United website which allows me to include it the Euro roundtrip…. it’s just when I add the one-way to my itin, it gives me the error. Wahh

  60. Looks like this no longer works on united.com. When I try to add the free one way it now tell me to call the 800 number. Has something changed with the United free one way?

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