To See a Third City on a United Award, Use Avios


You can see three “destination” cities on one United award, but you need to book a separate ticket with Avios or cash to tie the trip together.

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  • Why is three the limit?
  • Why does seeing even three cities require a second award?
  • How can you see four or more cities with United miles?

You get one stopover and two open jaws on a roundtrip United award in addition to your destination and origin cities.

When you look at what possibilities that opens, you see that you can have three “destinations” on your award, kind of.

For instance, you can fly all of this on a single United award:

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (destination)
  • Beijing to Seoul (open jaw between Tokyo and Beijing, stopover in Seoul)
  • Seoul to Los Angeles

This routing uses up one stopover and one open jaw, and you see three Asian cities. (You could use the second open jaw by returning to San Francisco, say, instead of Los Angeles, but let’s ignore that possibility.)

Unfortunately this itinerary is missing the flight from Tokyo to Beijing.

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Furthermore, you cannot add this “missing” segment to the same United award as all the other flights. Why not? Such an itinerary would have two stopovers, which is against the rules.

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (destination)
  • Tokyo to Beijing (stopover #1)
  • Beijing to Seoul (stopover #2)
  • Seoul to Los Angeles

Seeing three cities on a United award is easy enough, but there will be a hole that you need to fill with another ticket.

Generally Avios or cash will be best to fill that hole. In the example I gave, I intentionally left the hole between Tokyo and Beijing because British Airways partner Japan Airlines flies the route with a ton of award space, making it a relatively simple 10,000 Avios award to book after booking the big United award.

To see a fourth city on a United award, book the same type of United award and then book two Avios award or cash tickets. For instance (United award in red, Avios awards in blue):

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo
  • Tokyo to Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong to Beijing
  • Beijing to Seoul
  • Seoul to Los Angeles

Above this number of cities, you’ll probably want to look at a round-the-world award. United and Delta offer moderate value round-the-world awards, though not nearly as good as the now-defunct American Airlines Explorer Award.

Are you working on a massive trip on which you want to visit three or more destinations? Share it in the comments. If you’re stuck in your planning, hire the MileValue Award Booking Service.

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  1. How shall I treat such itinerary: JFK-BKK where we’d stay with my family for a week or so. BKK-SYD where we’d spend another 2 weeks and finally SYD-JFK as a return flight. At this moment, let’s disregard any particular flights since we may have plenty of options to choose from for the dates in December 🙂