One of my favorite current features of United Airlines miles is the ability to have stopovers on award tickets between different regions. If I have the time, I like scheduling a long stopover on my vacation as it lets me visit two destinations for the price of one. When I visited Kenya in 2012, I made a 3 day stop in Copenhagen flying in Business and First class all the way! On my recent trip to Asia, I was able to stop in Hawaii along the way and spend a week enjoying Maui and Kauai! The award ticket was still priced at a single round-trip price.
Schedule Stopovers to Asia in Europe or Hawaii
When traveling to Asia, Hawaii is completely on the way if you go over the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, if you go over the Atlantic, Europe is completely on the way. You can schedule a stopover for several days, a week, a month in Hawaii or Europe on the way to Asia and not have to pay any extra miles for the privilege.
What is a stopover?
A stopover is a location where one stops for more than 24 hours on the way to the destination. Any stopovers under 24 hours don’t count and are free.
United allows a stopover and two open jaws on it’s round-trip award tickets between different regions. So if you’re flying to Japan, for example, a stop in Hawaii is completely free and can be used as the one stopover. The following route would cost right now according to the United Airlines Interactive Award Chart:
- 65,000 miles round-trip total in economy
- 120,000 miles round-trip total in business class
Of course, United Airlines is scheduled to change its award chart and devaluate at the end of the month and this trip will cost 70,000 miles in economy and 130,000 – 150,000 in business class depending on whether partner flights are involved.
My Trip: A Stopover in Hawaii and an Open-Jaw in Asia
Since I actually wanted to visit more cities, I had a more complex itinerary than just a single stopover. My plan was to stop in Hawaii for a week and then spend another 10 days flying around Asia visiting Singapore, Phuket and Tokyo.
What is an open-jaw?
An open jaw can occur at three points: origin (leaving from one city and returning to another), stopover (stopping in one city and continuing from another), destination (flying into one city and returning from another).
Because I had already used up my one stopover in Hawaii, I could not have any more stopovers in Asia. But I did create an open-jaw between Singapore and Tokyo in Asia. I flew into Singapore and returned from Tokyo. In addition, because I wanted to visit both Maui and Kauai, I created an open-jaw at my stopover too. Now I had:
- Stopover at Maui
- Open-jaw at the stopover between Maui and Kauai
- Open-jaw at the destination between Singapore and Tokyo
The whole thing cost me 125,000 miles round-trip flying business class and here is what my route looked like. Of course, I was still responsible for inter-island flights and flights within Asia, but I did cover a lot of my trip with the 125,000 miles! Of, course there is no non-stop flight from Kauai to Singapore (I wish – that was a long journey!) so I did have a few more connections along the way!
A round-trip to Asia in business class normally costs 120,000 miles and I will explain where the extra 5,000 miles came from. When traveling from Kauai to Singapore, I had to take an interisland flight from Kauai to Oahu to connect to my flight to Tokyo. As that flight is on Hawaiian Airways, United charges an additional 5,000 miles for such flights.
Booking the Award
Most of the award space can be searched right on United Airlines’ website except for Singapore Airlines’ award space, which is no longer shown. You will have to call United Airlines customer service at 1-800-UNITED1 for that.
Otherwise, I recommend searching a single leg at a time for award availability. The United multi-city search engine is a little bit quirky and not all the routes always come up. In fact, it rejects routes that are completely valid. Searching a single leg means breaking up your trip into its individual portions. If you want to visit Tokyo and stop in Honolulu, then you should search:
- New York to Honolulu
- Honolulu to Tokyo
- Tokyo to New York
Find what’s available (Saver awards are in Blue, not Yellow!), write down all the flight numbers and then go to United Airlines Multiple Destinations Search Engine.
If all your flights come up, great! You can book it right online. If not, don’t worry. Just call United Airlines Customer Service at 1-800-UNITED1 and have an agent book it for you online. Just make sure to already be prepared with all your flights numbers and award availability so you get the exact flights you want!
Who else has had exciting stopovers on the way to Asia? Or on the way to other destinations?
Other posts you may like:
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- Success: Three Cousins in “Miles Training” all Book International Trips with Miles and Free One-Ways!
- Miles to Milan: Non-stop Flights in United BusinessFirst Class on the Boeing 767
- Maximizing United Miles: Saving 30,000 Miles in Business Class With Open-Jaws on Different Continents
- How to Add Free One-Way Trips On United Airlines Awards