As reported by Gary and Matthew, United has loosened their routing rules significantly as of February 1. The first major change is that double open jaws are now allowed. Previously you were allowed one open jaw (meaning you fly into city and out of another), like flying from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and then from Munich to Los Angeles. A double open jaw would be flying from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and then Munich to San Francisco. Now, since United allows one way awards, you could already have a double open jaw, but not on the same reservation — you would have to book those tickets as one ways. The benefit here is that if you needed to make a change or cancel, you would only be hit with the change fee once, as opposed to twice.
Even better news is that United now allows one stopover AND one open jaw on roundtrip awards between regions. Previously it was one or the other, but not both. That’s a huge improvement, and mirrors Continental’s policy.
Now the biggest news of all is how generous United is making their routing rules. In order for a routing to be considered legal for a United award, it has to either be a valid, published routing, or within the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) for the city pair. Well, while programs like Aeroplan have long allowed you to go 5% over the MPM, United is now allowing you to go 15% over the MPM. That’s insanely generous.
Now, being the eternal realist (I prefer that term over pessimist) that I am, I’ve gotta wonder, “what gives?” I mean, I can see them adding a 5% buffer, but what could possibly prompt them to make routing rules that much more generous?
Now, United hasn’t updated their award chart pricing by a whole lot over the past couple of years, so maybe I should leave my pom poms at home, but for the time being I’ll commend United on this one.