Why you should get to know the “Stopover”.
Last week we talked about “The Beauty of the Open Jaw“. And oh, is it beautiful. To refresh your memory, an “open jaw” is when you return to a city other than your original departure city, or you fly to one city, but return from another city. In English, this means you have options when it comes to flying. Options are good. You don’t have to be boring and fly out of the same city you flew into AND you don’t have to fly back to your original departure city.
But today, it’s all about the “Stopover”. If you aren’t familiar with this goodie, this post will get you acquainted, and soon we’ll go more in depth so you can become close friends. I know many of you noobs are sitting on fat stacks of miles and points, so learning about the stopover can help you stretch those miles out and add some nice value to your next trip.
TIP: I always book my award in non-peak season to really streeeetch the value of my miles. Ideally, I go on international trips late May or mid September. I know this isn’t possible for everybody. My parents were in education, so as a young one we only traveled during the summer months when prices are high all around.
Back to the Stopover
First, you should know that stopovers are only good for international and Hawaii flights. Now let me explain how it works. A stopover is when you spend more than 24 hours in a city in between your departure city and your final destination. Anything less than 24 hours would just be a layover. Gotta say I can’t stand layovers, but it’s life. If you are cray cray, you can even stay at your stopover city for almost a year (364 days). Legit.
I like stopovers because they allow me to see more cities, adding even more value to my miles. Cha ching.
How Can I Take Advantage of StopOvers?
Here’s an example of booking a stopover online with United. United has the best online award search engine and you can book many of their partners online, unlike most other airlines where you would have to call in.
Go to United.com and click on “award travel”. Then bounce back up top and click on “multiple destinations”.
You will then go to a page where you can enter your destination information. For this example, I chose Houtson (IAD) to London (LHR), which is my “stopover” from September 6 to September 20 (yep, that’s more than 24 hours). I then selected London to Dubrovnik (DBV), Croatia, my final destination. The final flight in this scenario is to Houston from Dubrovnik on Sept. 24.
Now that we have the dates and destinations filled in, click the search button and see what award flights are available.
While there are no non-stop saver award flights to London, there is a good option that has a 54 minute layover in New Jersey. I’ll take that. That’s too short to go hit up a lounge, but I’ll survive. Notice that there are no miles listed next to the flight option. Since we are booking a multiple destination ticket, the miles will be calculated at the end of the ticket. But I think you will like the outcome. Go ahead and choose the next two legs of your flights. In the example, it would be London -> Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik -> Houston.
You should then see a page like this.
These are pretty good flights and I’m getting to spend 2 weeks in London before continuing on to my final destination. BUT, what will this cost me? Is it more than a regular ole award ticket across the pond?
The answer is…Nope! This award ticket with a 14 day stopover in London is the normal saver award price of 60,000 miles. Learn to love it. The taxes are a little bit more because of the additional flight, but it’s still an incredible value because of the flexibility.
Wrap it Up
Adding a stopover when redeeming awards is so so clever. It helps you get even more value out of your already uber valuable miles. Again, stopovers are only for international flights, and flights from and to Hawaii (they don’t always work with Canada, though), EXCEPT for Delta (Delta is the only airline that allows domestic stopovers). Also, most airlines will allow 1 stopover and 1 open jaw when booking an award ticket. That’s where the real fun begins. But every airline has its own set of rules when it comes to stopovers and we will be going over that soon. You should also know that if you are wanting to fly a partner airline, you will have to call in and speak to a rep, because only United allows you to book partners online (AA does in some cases).
I hope you enjoyed meeting the stopover. My next posts on award bookings will cover how to really take advantage of the stopover and open jaw to maximize your miles and add flexibility and value to your next trip. Stay tuned!
— Noob Master