Free Oneways Are Still Possible On United Awards


I was nervous that free oneways might be eliminated by United upon its new chart taking effect yesterday. There was a cryptic comment on the new award chart that stopovers on certain awards might require extra miles.

Free oneways rely on a stopover at your home airport to pull them off. If certain free stopovers were eliminated, free oneways could have been eliminated with them. For more info on free oneways, see:

Are free oneways still possible on United awards?

As far as I can tell, no stopover rules have changed with the implementation of the new United award charts.

I can still book all the free oneways and cheap oneways I could before.

Newark to Frankfurt Roundtrip with Free Oneway Newark to San Francisco

Here’s a classic and simple free oneway: roundtrip from Newark to Frankfurt with a later free oneway from Newark to San Francisco.

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Since Newark to Frankfurt roundtrip in economy would cost 60k United miles, and this whole award is only 60k miles, the Newark to San Francisco leg adds zero miles (and only $2.50 in taxes), making it a free oneway.

Newark to Frankfurt Roundtrip with Cheap Oneway Newark to Lima

Sometimes a “cheap oneway” provides more value than a free oneway. On some awards, you can fly an international one way after the main award. It won’t cost zero miles like the free oneway within the continental US and Canada, but adding it to a roundtrip award will represent a discount over booking it separately.

Consider Newark to Frankfurt roundtrip in economy with a later cheap oneway to Lima.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 3.15.15 AM

This award prices at 70k miles total.

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The price is the sum of a one way award from Newark to Frankfurt (30k) plus one way from Frankfurt to Lima (40k).

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.51.17 AM Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.51.34 AM

If these three segments were booked as one way awards, the total price would be 80k miles (30k to Europe, 30k return, and 20k to Peru). Booking as one award saves 10k miles.


I was concerned that United stopover rules would change concurrent with the devaluation. They have not.

Free oneways and cheap oneways rely on taking a stopover at your home airport. Since United awards’ stopovers are in tact, free oneways are still intact!

Getting United Miles

I’m still bullish on United miles. They’re fantastic for economy awards. They’re also reasonable for United Business awards, and I consider United Business to be a very comfortable bed with solid food and entertainment options. See reviews here and here. They are no longer valuable for partner first class awards.

There are a lot of options to get United miles. There are United co-branded credit cards. There are also cards that earn Ultimate Rewards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold that allow 1:1 transfers of their Ultimate Rewards to United miles.



Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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  1. I booked a flight in late January on United. June trip SMF-CUN and added a one way from SMF to TPA in July. All flights ticketed on US AIRWAYS.

    Well the SM to TPA Flight was cancelled and they placed me on a flight that leaves earlier than my connection. Called an agent and after escalating the call to a supervisor, she said I broke routing rules. I said the flight was canceled, but she said that the rules are not posted and I have to go to the airport to view. They gave me an option of adding a one way from PHX to TPA, which doesn’t make sense to me, since that is not my origination city. Not sure what to do. Probably going to call again, but have not seen this issue anywhere as of yet. Any ideas?

    • DOT rules prohibit them from cancelling the ticket after it’s issued. Bring that up. If necessary, file a complaint with the DOT.

      • Thanks for the confirmation. I called a little later in the day and dealt with the offshore call center (vs. Chicago) and received great service and an agreeable solution (SMF-IAH-TPA), getting me within 20 minutes of my original time. More proof to use the HUCA method. Thanks for always useful blog material!

  2. I heard from someone that he tried to book a United award on the phone with a free 1-way. The phone agent told him, “no stop-overs in the US.” Is this actually a rule, and is it still possible to book free one-ways by phone?

    • Well as my two examples showed, the computer lets you add stopovers in the US. Phone agents are using computers with the same logic. So their computers will allow US stopovers too.

      If they say no US stopovers, they are personally enforcing it. You might want to hang up and get a different agent.

      Or put an itinerary on hold online with a free stopover in the US and change it over the phone, so if they balk at the free stopover in the US, you can point out that the computer seems to have no problem with it.

  3. I don’t think you can put a price on how great one way awards are these days. AA allows it but will the new AA/USAIR allow it will be the big question. Delta doesn’t. Southwest and the other small airlines do. Does this mean that United has so many miles out there that they are trying to get people to use them and they regulate them by limiting space availability whenever they want?

  4. Hi, what’s the lowest amount of miles and what rewards program for LAX-SJO and then LIR-LAX? Thank you!

  5. I tried booking a RT with free oneway today, and it’s no longer free. Tried DFW-SFO with free DFW-BWI and it ends up costing 65k instead of 75k if booked separately as 3 oneways, saving just 10k miles. I guess it’s better than nothing, but the free one way was obviously better.

  6. Thanks for the info!

    I just booked a free one way in business/first using United miles on Lufthansa BOS-FCO-BOS in July // and on US Airways BOS-PHX in December.
    The bookings were rejected online so I called in. The inventory online didn’t align exactly with what they saw over the phone but the agent eventually agreed it was a valid routing.

    However, the agent refused to waive the $25 per ticket phone booking fee.
    It wasn’t clear whether the problem with my online booking was changing availability on Lufthansa -or- mixing in a US Airways flight but I wanted to try again to book it online.

    I had a couple different UA accounts I needed to draw from so I called back to ask whether I could process the reservations as a since request.
    I mentioned I didn’t want to pay the $25 per ticket phone booking fee and the second agent said he could waive it and was able to process the awards.

    It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of research but thanks to folks like yourself (willing to share useful information) I’m looking forward to an amazing vacation I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to justify paying cash for.

    Thank you!


  7. I tried to book HNL to LAX in August, LAX to RIO in November, RIO back to LAX in December. It didn’t work when I tried on using the multi-destination option. So I called in and spoke to the United representative… she essentially said I can’t do a stop over in multiple regions (Hawaii, North America, South America). How do I bypass this?

  8. i believe i should be able to get a free one way if i do BOS>SFO> SFO>BOS with a free one way at the end from BOS>DCA but it still adds up all the miles you need to book if you did each leg separately.. should be 12500+12500 with the last leg free (when it should be 10000) but the total still ends up being 35000, not 25000, is there a reason?


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