Maximizing United’s New Stopover Rules

Earlier this month United changed their stopover policy and updated their pricing engine. At first glance, the new system seemed far less consumer-friendly, and I stand by my frustration at how this will impact the average consumer.

Having had a few weeks to acclimate helps though. The system is still finicky as can be, but there are ways to manipulate the search queries a bit to get better results. And there are some crazy things you can do with the Excursionist Perk, provided you can plan a few trips at once.

(Fair warning, this is a long and complicated post, so you might want to refill your coffee or grab a snack first.)

Helping the routing computer

I touched on this briefly when the changes first took place, but to get the routings you want these days you have to help the computer along. The new website is more robust in many ways, but it still errors out, and only shows the routings it wants to show. You can, however, encourage the computer to give you the flights you’d prefer.

When searching for awards, you’ll want to leverage the Advanced Search tab. Don’t use multi-city unless you’re specifically trying to price an Excursionist Perk, and have already found all your segments.

Narrow the results as much as you can. Put in approximate flight times, and choose the appropriate number of connections:

united-stopover-rules-020

You can also specify cities you’d prefer to connect in, or those you’d prefer to avoid by clicking on “Search Preferences” under the advanced search:

united-stopover-rules-019

That’s still not a guarantee, and if there are multiple flights on a route United may still only show one or two (or an error!), particularly when building a multi-city trip. I haven’t found a workaround, and phone agents can’t reasonably do more than you can (you could theoretically spend 6+ hours finding an agent willing and able to use the old system, but I don’t think that’s realistic for most of us).

But, something is better than nothing, and you should be able to get closer to what you want by being more aggressive with how you search.

Understanding the Excursionist Perk

Here’s what the rules say:

  • The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates. (For example, if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America.)
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
  • The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.
  • The cabin of service and award type of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
  • If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.

But there’s a lot the rules don’t say, and between the lines is our favorite place to read here at OMAAT, so let’s break it down.

“The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates.”

That seems pretty straightforward — you can’t get a traditional “free one-way” of Chicago to Orlando to use months after your trip to Europe any longer. The Excursionist Perk can’t be in the origination zone.

But, and this is key, the Excursionist Perk doesn’t specifically have to be in the destination zone. So sure, you can add on some free segments in Europe, just as you’ve always been able to. And you can insert intra-region flights in some other zone, and get those awards for free.

So on a roundtrip between the U.S. and Europe, for example, you could insert a flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok, and not pay any additional miles.

united-stopover-rules-006

This would price at 140,000 miles in business class — 70,000 miles for each of the transatlantic segments, with the Hong Kong to Bangkok flight being free.

united-stopover-rules-004

At first glance this seems completely useless, but we’ll talk about some potential applications later on.

“Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.”

In theory this rule makes it sound like you can only have an Excursionist Perk on a roundtrip between Region A and Region B, given that you have to end in Region A. But we’ve already learned that you can have an Excursionist Perk in Region C with no problem.

Similarly, you just have to get back to Region A eventually, and on the same ticket as your Excursionist Perk.

united-stopover-rules-010

The outbound to Europe is still 70k, the Excursionist Perk between Hong Kong and Bangkok is still free, and the inbound flight from Central America to the U.S. prices at 30k miles in Business/First, per the award chart. So the three flights together are 100,000 miles, versus 130,000 if you’d purchased three separate tickets.

united-stopover-rules-008

Now it’s getting interesting.

Drew over at Travel is Free beat me to the punch on publishing the new stopover rules, and points out how far you can take this. While travel has to end in the Mileage Plus origination region, the rules don’t say where that last flight has to start. 

So you can even add on a cheap 10k Saver economy award between say, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and still get that Hong Kong to Bangkok segment for free:

united-stopover-rules-013

As you can see, there’s some room for creativity if you can plan in advance, but more on that later.

“The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.”

This is the most transparent and non-nuanced of the new rules. In order for the Excursionist Perk flights to price at 0 miles, they have to be completely within a given region.

So rather than Hong Kong > Bangkok, you could have Hong Kong > Bangkok > Manila (and even have an overnight in Bangkok if you wanted), and it would qualify for an Excursionist Perk:

united-stopover-rules-014

But a short, nonstop flight between Hong Kong and Taipei would never qualify for an Excursionist Perk, as Hong Kong and Taipei are in separate regions:

united-stopover-rules-015

It’s also worth noting that you can’t cross regions or boomerang around while on the Excursionist Perk flights, though you can connect. I haven’t been able to get an Excursionist Perk between Tel Aviv and elsewhere in the Middle East to price, for example, as all the Star Alliance flights connect in other regions.

Make sense?

“The cabin of service and award type of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.”

Again, straightforward. Your Excursionist Perk flights can be in Economy if the prior segment is in Business, or in Business if the prior segment is in First, but you can’t “upgrade” the Excursionist Perk portion of the trip.

But you can have the long segments on United (which price at a lower rate in many cases), and then have your Excursionist Perk on partners.

“If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.”

Because United now prices each portion of a trip as a separate one-way award, you can string nearly endless combinations together. That’s not necessarily a good deal (unless you’re planning on making changes and want to minimize your fee exposure), as you do still pay for each portion. If there are multiple portions of the itinerary that would qualify for an Excursionist Perk, only the first instance is free.

As an example, let’s look at a more involved trip with stopovers in Maui, Honolulu, and Seoul on the way to Taipei:

united-stopover-rules-017

The individual portions would price as follows (assuming all but the inter-island flights in business class):

Los Angeles to Maui | 40,000 miles
Maui to Honolulu | 6,000 miles *intra-region award 
Honolulu to Seoul | 52,500 miles
Seoul to Taipei | 22,500 miles *intra-region award 
Taipei to Los Angeles | 80,000 miles

In this example, the Maui to Honolulu segment would be the one that qualifies for the Excursionist Perk, so you’d save 6,000 miles, for a total of 195,000 miles.

The better value would be to flip the order of the award, making the more expensive Seoul to Taipei flights eligible for the Excursionist Perk. So your map would look the same, but your flight order would be:

Los Angeles to Taipei | 80,000 miles
Taipei to Seoul | 22,500 miles *intra-region award
Seoul to Honolulu | 52,500 miles
Honolulu to Maui | 6,000 miles *intra-region award
Maui to Los Angeles | 40,000 miles

Remember, the first intra-region award on a roundtrip that meets the other rules qualifies for the Excursionist Perk. So structuring the itinerary this way would make the Taipei to Seoul portion free, bringing the total to 178,500 miles.

Fun times, no?

What are the regions?

Your Excursionist Perk has to start and end in the same region, which can’t be your departure region, so it helps to know how United defines each region. I’ve also listed the prices for intra-region awards, so you can get a sense of how many miles the Excursionist Perk could save you, though to keep it simple I’m only posting partner rates.

RegionCountriesIntra-Region EconomyIntra-Region BusinessIntra-Region First
Mainland U.S., Alaska & CanadaMainland U.S., Alaska & Canada12,50025,00035,000
HawaiiHawaiian Islands6,0008,50010,000
CaribbeanAntigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadalupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Netherland Antilles, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, U.s. Virgin Islands10,00020,00040,000
Central AmericaBelize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama10,00020,00040,000
MexicoMexico10,00020,00040,000
Northern South AmericaColombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela10,00020,00030,000
Southern South AmericaArgentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay12,50020,00030,000
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom15,00030,00040,000
North AsiaChina, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan15,00022,50030,000
JapanJapan5,000/8,00012,00016,000
South AsiaBangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam17,50030,00040,000
Central AsiaAfghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan20,00035,00045,000
Middle EastAzerbajian, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen20,00035,00045,000
Central/Southern AfricaAngola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotto, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Reunion Island, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe17,50035,00050,000
Northern AfricaAlgeria, Canary Islands, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia17,50035,00050,000
OceaniaAmerican Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanautu, Western Samoa12,50030,00040,000
Australia / New ZealandAustralia (inc Tasmania), New Zealand, Norfolk Islands17,50030,00040,000

The real annoying region is “Japan,” though having “Northern Africa” split out separately is up there, sheesh.

As you can see, flights within some of these regions are much more expensive than others. On the one hand, you’ll save the most miles by structuring your trip such that the Excursionist Perk is in a pricey region. On the other, the “best value” isn’t necessarily the best value for you, so don’t get carried away.

Using the Excursionist Perk

In practice, the most useful application of the Excursionist Perk will be to add a stopover in your destination region. That’s certainly the intent of the perk.

So you could fly in to London, take the train to Paris, fly between Paris and Milan, then return home from Rome after exploring Italy.

united-stopover-rules-018

In this case the Paris to Milan flights would qualify for the Excursionist Perk (in green). You’d be on your own for the ground portions (in white).

There are other examples, of course, but this seems like the general strategy that most people will use.

Advanced ways to use the Excursionist Perk

Of course, OMAAT readers are not most people.

If you’re a careful planner, I can see the Excursionist Perk being tremendously useful for out-of-the-box itineraries. A few examples I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Positioning for great business class fares (think Cairo)
  • Structuring trips such that an expensive ticket on a second trip is covered by the Excursionist Perk
  • Combining with cash or other miles for difficult regions (think Johannesburg, Australia), and having segments to use later

Ultimately, you can get really creative here, but keep in mind – there is only one Excursionist Perk per round-trip ticket. So while you can use the multi-city tool to price out something ridiculous like weekly transatlantic fights for two months, and the pricing engine likely won’t error out, that doesn’t mean you’re getting a deal.

Furthermore, this perk will probably be more useful for some of y’all than others. Ben and I will probably struggle to use it. I realize it seems like something we’d maximize (afterall, we just positioned to New York from California by way of Moscow and Belgrade for a flight to Baku), but you have to take these flights sequentially, and we just don’t do a good enough job of planning our lives in advance.

Bottom line

Philosophically, I’m a bit conflicted.

I’m still annoyed at how United has hamstrung their phone agents. It’s the general travelers who are most impacted by the inability of agents to compile multiple segments into a single award, particularly folks who live in non-hub cities. And those travelers are certainly disadvantaged in terms of transparency of routing options, and are likely not going to leverage the quirks of the Excursionist Perk that bring some extra value back into MileagePlus awards.

But there is, as ever, opportunity for advanced players.

Do you see yourself using the Excursionist Perk? Where?

Comments

  1. Just assanine they thought creating anew concept instead of keeping the existing stopover rules was a way to solve whatever problems they were having with abuse. Now we have a broken system with idiotic pricing and new abuses.

  2. I’ve read a few articles like this and on paper I get it. However, with united not letting you use multi-city search and only selecting what the computer returns; how do you add a IST-MUC leg on a round trip SFO-PVG for example?

  3. You say that Drew “beat” you to the punch. Sure he didn’t actually “teach” you these tricks? Did you really work all this out separately, and he just was quicker to publish? If you, both of you deserve credit for these discoveries. Nice job!

  4. Agree with Tom. This seems like a total and blatant rip off of Drew’s post from last week. Not a single additional thing beyond what he has already covered…

  5. I liked this post better when Drew at http://www.travelisfree.com originated it.

    It’s REALLY dishonest to swipe someone else’s hard work without mentioning them.

    What a disreputable website/author. :-((((((((

  6. Hmmm, there is a lot you didn’t mention here. But probably on purpose… there is so much you can do with this trick it’s not even funny.

  7. Can you give some USA-South Africa examples? (Combining with cash or other miles for difficult regions (think Johannesburg, Australia), and having segments to use later)

  8. Disappointing to see a total ripoff of Travel is Free with only the smallest acknowledgement – I expect better from you guys.

  9. Tom & Dima, but Point me to the Plane handily beat Drew and posted about this almost as soon as the new engine was live but no one gives Drew any shit. Besides his writing style is terrible, and Tiffany has done a better job here explaining the concept. Even better, go to Milevalue and read his take, best I’ve seen so far.

  10. Wow, not only do you rip off Drew’s post but then you delete comments expressing disappointment with your lack of full acknowledgement?

    Seriously, the way you’ve put the analysis is helpful, and I read you guys regularly, but I guess I’m starting to know which travel blog *not* to to keep on my reading list if you’re not going to play nice with fellow bloggers who contribute more than you do to tricks like this…

  11. Roberto you would be surprised at how many of us get creative with award travel and TPG gives us great advice. Prior to the change at United I booked a Delhi Jeddah Cairo Istanbul Porto one way Star Alliance business award ticket for 45000 miles with long connections and stop overs in each. It is these helpful hints that encourage our creativity. And, I was able to book with the United GS agent in about 20 minutes total having my itinerary all planned out. Did two more trips before the change with unusual routing grabbing free stop overs along the way. So keep this tips and tricks coming so when I travel on points I am maximizing as best as possible.

  12. I understand the rules, but I don’t see how you can book them without using the Multi-City search. I’m not even trying to maximise it – all I want to book is a trip to HKG, then a leg to RGN, then a return back to origin. That falls entirely within the rules, there’s plenty of availability on each leg but the Multi-city simply doesn’t work and therefore it seems to be unbookable.

  13. not bad. round trip SF- New York is at 17.5K in economy
    tokyo- osaka – 5K
    sfo-new york – free
    new york-sfo – 12.5K

    total 17.5k

    if you could find business class tokyo to osak you would get sfo to new york (one way) business for free.

  14. The more of these posts that “demystify” UA’s new multi-city award booking rules we have, the better! Rather than jumping on the bandwagon and crying foul after UA announced their multi-city award booking changes, Drew Macomber over at ‘travelisfree’ did what I believe travel bloggers need to do every time there is a change in a loyalty program, which is to take the time to understand the change and then to “demystify” it for their readers, while offering remedies, if any. Well, I will just recycle here my take on this whole UA multi-city award booking change, as I had provided it over at “travelisfree”:

    “Laudably proactive way for a travel blogger to react to a “devaluation”! Learn about it and let the readers know what it means for them and suggest remedies!

    What’s been presented here jibe’s with what I have learned. I had the chance to speak with a UA 1K Desk supervisor about their “new” multi-city award booking rules and what I was told was that it was essentially a “bug fix”, and I tend to agree because that would now explain some weird multi-city award prices that I got before, which seemed too generous and I could not explain why I got them (like allowing me a stopover on a one-way award when that was verboten). According to the supervisor, the way things are working now is the way they were supposed work all along, but did not due to an IT problem. The system was way too generous with stopovers. So, this is a “selective devaluation” because people booking award trips that include no stopovers or have a single connection outside of one’s departure region to which they would return would get a free segment, i.e., a stopover. Open jaws are allowed galore on multi-city awards.

    The notion that the sky had fallen and that UA awards got as bad as DL’s as a result of the new rules were unwarranted exaggerations. I was, in fact, puzzled and wondered why UA would institute something that was as unfriendly as was initially claimed, when Oscar Munoz was trying to turn the company around? The answer is that they had not done anything that was overly unfriendly, like a wholesale award chart devaluation would have been. They just fixed a bug to avoid bleeding revenue at a time when they wanted to turn things around. The major change involved a redefinition or enforcement of “stopovers”, that are now working as initially intended: Good only on round trip award travel, with one allowed in a region other than the one where one originated and would return to.

    There are other nuances I learned about, like UA agents now see fewer *A awards than travelers booking a multi-city award online. Apparently, that’s because *A carriers now release and control their own awards, which are accessible only through general or public booking engines, but not through individual *A members’ systems — something which I was able to confirm.

    All in all, call it a “stopover” or a “free segment”, that’s still better than what either AA or DL allows: neither program offers a stopover so that even after this so-called “bug fix”, UA still offers more flexibility. Importantly, however, they have stopped bleeding revenue by doing away with the prior overly generous and “buggy” stopover rule and implementing a more competitive stopover rule at a time when they are trying to turn the company around.”

    And, no, I am not on the side of the loyalty programs. I am just keenly aware of Reinhold Niebhur’s “Serenity Prayer”:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    In short, I am a realist…

    Bottom line:
    “Devaluations” are a fact of life for anyone who is going to play the miles/points game, but crying foul whenever a program “devalues” is an exercise in futility because I am not aware of single instance in which a “devaluation” was ever rescinded. In the end, we’ve always accepted the changes and adapted. Therefore, what travel bloggers need to do is to figure out the implications of a change for the loyalty game and then to inform their readers, as well as to suggest remedies that would lessen the sting — exactly what ‘travelisfree”‘s two-part blogpost had done proactively, and this one and others have begun doing to benefit as many folks as possible.

    When we were told that UA’s latest “devaluation” made things as bad as DL’s, I’d written elsewhere: “I am nearly certain that once reports of people redeeming award travel on UA to various destinations and for varied itineraries start to pile up, the claim that the sky has fallen as a result of these rules changes will turn out to be a gross exaggeration, if not altogether bogus.”

    Maybe not “altogether bogus”, but definitely a “gross exaggeration”, and in some ways — like a more reliable multi-city award booking engine — things got even better!!!

    Glad to see my point made emphatically even sooner than I thought, with just dummy bookings!

    G’day!

  15. @ Tom — Yep, I’m sure. We talked about some of this in Chicago right after the changeover happened, and we’ve all known about the possibility of a third region stopover from Day 1. What I hadn’t played around with yet (given that I spend most of my time on itineraries normal people actually want to take), was having the last segment be Region A to Region A, and so credit goes to Drew there, as mentioned in the post.

  16. @ Jack — In that case there might have to be some tradeoffs. You can filter the results to hopefully show the routings you want, then when you use the multi-city tool you’ll want to put in a “chunk” of the award, not necessarily just a segment.

  17. @ Brent — Sure! Paid business class fares out of South Africa have been super reasonable lately, so maybe combine a paid fare with other miles and put together a big trip.
    • UA award from the US to Europe
    • Other award Europe to maybe Nairobi or Seychelles or something
    • UA award from other African city to JNB
    • Paid fare from JNB
    • Domestic UA segment in the US to use later

    It all depends on how you piece things together, basically.

  18. @ Daniel — I didn’t delete anything. If it’s the first time you’re commenting on the blog it’s automatically held for manual approval, and we were on a plane when this published.

  19. @ NB — Well, if you want an Excursionist Perk you will have to use multi-city. Can you tell me more about the errors you’re getting? I’ve been seeing weird stuff too, but mostly within Japan.

  20. I had a 3hr phone call last week where the agent could not get the excursionist perk to price at zero for an inter-Europe segment. I ended up booking an itinerary I did not want online including the zero miles segment I did want and then UA supervisors changed the rest of the itinerary back to what I wanted. The agent really stuck at it and was determined to get my itinerary ticked. The availability I was seeing online did not correspond to what the agent was seeing on her systems. A big mess, but it got done in the end.

  21. DCS is as clueless as ever…toes the party line that “this isn’t a devaluation”, then also admits “UA agents now see fewer *A awards than travelers booking a multi-city award online”. Again, not surprising given his myopic HH posts.

  22. @Andy said: “The availability I was seeing online did not correspond to what the agent was seeing on her systems. A big mess, but it got done in the end.”

    Bingo! That is what I meant when I wrote above: “There are other nuances I learned about, like UA agents now see fewer *A awards than travelers booking a multi-city award online. Apparently, that’s because *A carriers now release and control their own awards, which are accessible only through general or public booking engines, but not through individual *A members’ systems — something which I was able to confirm.”

    The way I confirmed the above was that I had amended my YUGE multi-city Year-end Asian Escapade(tm) to allow me an extra a day — a stopover — in Tokyo before I flew to ICN on OZ and then ICN-PEK-SIN on CA — all of which was booked and confirmed. The agent made the change I requested, inserting Tokyo in the itinerary, and then she told me that there was no longer availability for PEK-SIN! I told her I’d already confirmed ICN-PEK-SIN, what did she mean there was no longer availability? She said that all she could find was where I would have to spend nearly 12hr in PEK (instead of 1h:45min) before continuing on to SIN! So, on a whim, I decided to do the search myself and, lo and behold!, I found all kinds of availability for ICN-PEK-SIN on CA, INCLUDING the very same one that I’d already booked and confirmed, which was no longer visible to the agent!

    Triumphantly, I told the agent that there was something wrong because I found several award flights on CA. That’s when she told me that she had no control over CA awards; CA releases them and controls those that are available publicly, which may or may not match those can be seen on individual *A members’ systems. Some of this makes actually sense because, in the past, I had to wait about 24h for my *A award seat availability to be confirmed by each operating *A carrier involved and UA would ticket them (which they often forgot to do, creating problems). That’s no longer the case. What you see online is what you get and it’s confirmed and tickets right then. I believe this is an improvement of sort…

    I must say that I am still suspicious because one way for UA to force people to use their multi-city award booking system would be for the agents to claim that they could not see awards that were visible through the public booking system. I am glad to see that someone else has “confirmed” that agents seem to see a smaller inventory than customers do, but I still wonder…

  23. @ UA-NYC — I never wish to address you but I will do it so that I can insult you: You are an idiot, and anyone who has noticed you hound me from blog to blog like a street dog, spewing nonsense, already knows who is clueless.

    DCS got this exactly right when we were being told that the sky had fallen. What has been demonstrated here and elsewhere is exactly what I learned from UA and reported in the post that you just criticized as clueless, without having a clue. Do you even understand any of it or the tricks that Drew and Tiffany have helpfully provided us to cope with this change, which I believe is a Good Thing for both UA and the loyalty game player because a financially healthy UA is likely to lead to a healthier and more rewarding MilegePlus? Wanna know what happens when a loyalty program’s parent company under-performs financially? Just take a look at what happened to SPG after Starwood under-performed and found itself up on the auction block.

    Goodbye!

  24. Come on guys……… “beat you to the punch?” I think everyone knows Drew is the pioneer of these types of posts, to rip it off and act you like figured this all out is pretty bad. Travelisfree should be at the top of this post, not as a hat tip, but giving complete credit.

  25. Has anyone gotten an award involving Taiwan to price correctly? Even something like Taipei -> Frankfurt (layover in Paris) -> Vienna -> Taipei doesn’t price the Frankfurt -> Vienna segment as free.

  26. Nothing super out of the box, but I’m using my Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus (plus a few more points) to get me and my wife from the US to Dublin, Excursionist Dublin to Edinburgh, and then return home from Paris back to the US. We’ll take trains from Edinburgh to London to Paris.

  27. This is some hardcore, in depth stuff. Very thankful you put this together. I am looking at flights for my summer adventure. Very helpful to have this guide and I think I can make this work well. Thank you

  28. Website no longer seems to allow flights between Japan and certain Oceania countries such Tonga and New Caledonia. Used to be a great deal at 30K in Biz or 40K in First, because getting there required routing through Asia and Australia/New Zeland.

    This worked fine after October 6th and seems to have changed in the last week or so. I haven’t tried calling since I am not actually trying to book, but assume this would now force pricing as two awards. Another BIG devaluation!!

  29. Update…I just played with the Japan to Oceania routings some more and HND and other Japanese airports still work fine. Blocking appears limited to NRT at this time.

  30. As a 1K member… is it possible to cancel the last leg after the excursionist leg is complete? Looking at below…

    NRT->ORD: 65k business
    EWR->SFO: free as excursionist (25k business)
    HND->NRT: 5k economy

    However I likely would not end up taking the HND->NRT flight. As a 1K member, after completing the first two legs, could I cancel the last one to get 5K miles back? or even if just forfeit the 5k miles (hence still getting 20k in value for free).

  31. @Tiffany I’m getting errors for Japan segments. I’m trying to book SFO>HND, HND>KIX (excursion perk), KIX>SFO. Searching for RT between SFO to HND, it looks like there’s flights connecting between HND and KIX but no award travel is showing up between the two Japan airports. Were you able to get any results for Japan? Wondering if these airports are blocked or if it’s a specific date limitation, although I tried playing with different dates too. Thanks!

  32. I can’t seem to make it all work with the travel originating in Europe. Is this the case? I’m trying SOF-BOS, BDL-RNO, FLR-SOF, and it puts a price on the BDL-RNO segment. Please help?

    Thanks,
    Gerrit

  33. Using it unnecessarily. Flying ORD ZRH DEL. Return is KTM DEL ZRH MIA. If I book it as a RT, the KTM DEL flight is the excursionist flight. However, if I book it as 2 one ways, the KTM DEL portion is included in the return award anyway. I couldn’t figure out a way to maximize the benefit without knowing what I will be needing in the future. So….blew it on an unnecessary use.

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