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How to use the new United.com for stopover awards that stretch your miles

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United MileagePlus® lets you include a single free stopover on any international roundtrip award. That lets you spend as much time as you’d like in two separate cities. So for example, you could fly Chicago to Rome, stay there for 5 days, then on to Paris, stay there for 8 days, and then fly back to Chicago.

And if you plan right, you can get more than two cities in, by adding stops of one day, which don’t count as full stopovers.

Until recently, it was a real pain to build stopover trips online. But now there’s a new United.com, and it’s made looking for trips with stopovers much easier than before. Now, you can see the price and itinerary you’re building as you go along, and the process doesn’t choke up at random moments as much as it used to.

Instead it’s a step by step process that shows you exactly what you’re building along the way.

We’ll show you how we constructed two trips, one that touches Australia and hops up Asia for 80,000 miles, the same as a roundtrip to Australia.

  • Chicago – Sydney (stay)
  • Sydney – Bangkok (stay)
  • Bangkok – Hong Kong (one day)
  • Hong Kong – Tokyo (one day)
  • Tokyo – Chicago

Another that gets four European cities for 60,000 miles, the same as a plain roundtrip to Europe:

  • Chicago – Rome (stay)
  • Rome – Paris (stay)
  • Paris – Copenhagen (one day)
  • Copenhagen – London (one day)
  • London – Chicago

To get started, click the ‘Search for award travel’ box on the United.com home page, then do a search (it doesn’t matter what you fill in, you’ll change it on the next screen).

On this screen, choose ‘Multi-city’ from the Book an Award section

Then scroll down and start entering the cities and dates you want to cover and try to pick your cities and dates with these guidelines in mind.

  • You can stay in two cities for more than one day.
  • Any other city you want to add needs to depart the day after you arrive. So if you arrive on the 22nd, you need your flight onward to depart on the 23rd.
  • Generally, you shouldn’t go backwards, for example, flying Tokyo to Bangkok, staying, then back to Beijing to stay for a day, then on to Sydney for your full destination. Instead keep moving along, like Tokyo to Beijing, stay for a day, on to Bangkok, stay for several days, on to Sydney.

The price you pay will be the award price of the most expensive destination on  your trip. So if you include both Australia and Japan in a trip, you’ll pay the price of a roundtrip to Australia, as that’s a higher mileage price than a trip to Japan.

You can click the ‘Add another destination’ link to add more cities to your trip

Don’t worry about exact dates – once you submit the form, you’ll be able to adjust dates as you search for individual flight segments in the calendar view:

As you build the trip, each segment’s mileage price will display individually, but the taxes you see are for your entire trip. You can click ‘Revise flight’ to adjust any of the flights as you firm things up.

Here we’ve already got a week in Sydney, and a week in Bangkok.

And adding a day in Hong Kong is easy…departing at 1:15pm on June 30th after arriving on June 29th at 2:30pm.

So is an extra day in Tokyo before completing the trip back home to Chicago.

It all prices out for 80,000 miles (the price of a regular roundtrip to Australia) plus $170 in airport taxes thanks to $20 or so each time you stop in a city.

If you want to book a similar trip in cash it will set you back over $4,000!

And you don’t have to fly to Asia to take advantage of these stopover deals.

Europe is a great place to hop around with less flying, and for 60,000 miles you can book this jaunt directly on United.com, taking you to Rome, Paris, Copenhagen, and London:

By the time you add it all up, the taxes are about $214 (versus about $100 if you didn’t do all the stops), but you get an incredible experience along the way.

Delta and American don’t let you do creative stopover options like this. Only United and Alaska miles among the major U.S. mileage programs still let you do it. This flexibility and the massive network of Star Alliance destinations are why United MileagePlus® miles are our favorite for big international trips.

Also check out our other United MileagePlus® resources:

> Guide to using your United miles: where to find awards, fees, rules, and more

> How to upgrade with United MileagePlus®: from miles to GPUs to waitlists

> Using United fare codes via Expert Mode

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