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There are just a couple of days left before United MileagePlus changes their award routing rules as well as some fees for changing or redepositing awards on October 6th. I know that award routing rules and maximizing open-jaws and stopovers can be intimidating at first, and since the rules are changing anyway in a few days I certainly wouldn’t put a ton of effort into learning them now, but….
If you already know the United routing rules in terms of stopovers and open-jaws, or want to put a tiny bit of effort into learning the basics, you can potentially get 1.5 trips for the price of one with your United miles if you book before Thursday. I know lots of people think of the United “free one-way” in conjunction with a big trip overseas, but in reality this can work even if you are only traveling from the US/Canada to Mexico, the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, or really anywhere that prices as a different “zone” than the lower 48 and Canada. You then use a stopover in your home airport and an open-jaw to get to another city than you started within the same zone.
As a very basic example, it would cost 35,000 United miles at the saver economy level to fly round trip from the lower 48 or Canada to Mexico as I will show below. However, it costs the exact same amount to fly that round trip but also add on a “free one-way” within the lower 48 or Canada at the beginning or end of your trip by using the stopover and open-jaw rules.
In practice that means I can fly Charlotte – Houston (wait a few days, weeks, or months for next trip) – Cancun – Houston for the same price as just Houston – Cancun – Houston. In the example below I return home to Houston from a trip to Charlotte on June 26th, then start a trip to Cancun from Houston on July 9th, and return July 13th to Houston. I could alternatively put that flight to Charlotte (or wherever in the 48/Canada) after the Cancun trip in a similar fashion. It prices at the same mileage level as if I didn’t add in the segment from Charlotte.
Here is another similar example, but to Montego Bay.
Another another to Anchorage with New York City added at the end.
And another to Honolulu.
In all cases the round trip + the “free one way” price at the same number of miles as just the round trip. This works best from a United hub city like Houston as the computers don’t get as confused with fewer segments and force you to call to book the trip. However, this isn’t necessarily exclusive to hub cities.
Use the multi-city option to book awards in this manner, but don’t delay since the rules change on Thursday. You can learn more about the three types of United awards you want to book before Thursday in this post. Good luck squeezing all the value you can out of your United miles before Thursday!