This week on Points Hoarder: Open jaws and stopovers

So, you’ve figured out the basics on award bookings, have you? Getting where you want to visit and back home is great. But what about getting half of your next trip for free, too? Or getting to visit multiple destinations on a single journey rather than just one? With most frequent flyer programs this sort of "extra" fun can be had on a single award, adding more  value to the points you’ve earnt. And in this week’s PointsHoarder podcast we’re talking about stopovers and open-jaws, the two routing constructs which allow this sort of thing to work. Give it a listen to learn about some of the different program rules, which allow stopovers and where along the routing, for example.

PointsHoarder 11 – Open-Jaws and Closed Data

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Good podcast, but as I noted on Hack My Trip’s recent post, the rule that open jaw distance must be shorter than the flights is not really true, at least not on UA. It’s pretty easy to construct routings that demonstrate this, like my example EWR-PTY(stop)-IAH(stop)-NRT all for 50k in coach, instead of 3 separate awards.

    1. Glad you got that to price, Rick. II’ll suggest that what you got is one of the “quirks” of the United site more than actually an award which is valid per the rules. Just like United won’t allow TATL and TPAC on a single booking officially but the website books them all the time. Take advantage while you can; quirks like this might not last forever.

  2. Do you know how to tell quirks from legitimately legal routing? It appears legal to me and prices as a US-Central America oneway + Central America to Japan one way. I’m not really getting anything free here. Just the fact that you can do it one award is nice. It’s an extension of the free domestic one-way “trick”.

    I’ll definitely take advantage but can’t find any official rules from UA. It seems that with two open jaws, the possibilities are so complicated they can’t even cover every situation.

    Btw, sometimes TATL and TPAC booking is allowed by the rules. For example some cities like FRA to NRT if you look on Expertflyer, UA has it in the rules that it’s around 10.5k MPM and allows routing in both directions.

    1. MPM isn’t in the award rules anymore for United; stop thinking in those terms.

      I understand that it is pricing as the pair of one way awards and allowing the stopover priced as a “round trip” award. But the rule on the round-trip awards is that two open jaws are permitted; that’s all. They don’t say that open jaws are defined differently for any reason. And pretty much since the concept of the open jaw was introduced the open jaw has to be the shortest segment. That it is pricing as a round trip and allowing the stopover is, IMO, a quirk.

  3. It’s not just MPM, the routing rules Expertflyer shows actually say you can route over Pacific and/or Atlantic for that particular city pair.

    Also, by your logic EWR – PTY – LAX should be illegal as well. The rules just aren’t sufficiently restrictive, which is different from a glitch that violates written rules. US Airways spells out the distance rules, UA doesn’t on any of their pages I looked at. Maybe they don’t allow the open jaw to be longer than BOTH flying segments? That I can understand.

    1. Revenue routing rules also do not apply for bookings in the current United Program.

      By traditional open-jaw rules EWR-PTY-LAX (EWR-PTY is the shortest leg) would not be permitted just like EWR-IAH-LAX wouldn’t. If that’s all you’re flying then it is OK as it also books as a pair of one-way tickets for the same rate. And there are some reports of being able to “confuse” the UA systems online in various ways, including TATL/TPAC on a single award. That doesn’t mean that the rules are different, just that they aren’t well enforced.

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