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Maximizing United MileagePlus: Understanding the Excursionist Perk

Booking air travel can be expensive and complicated, especially when you’re trying to fit in multiple destinations. Luckily, United Airlines has an Excursionist Perk that can help you plan your next trip at a fraction of the cost.

We’ll take a deep dive into how the Excursionist Perk works and how you can maximize your

United MileagePlus miles so you can enjoy your trip even more.

United Excursionist Perk

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and they offer a lot of perks to their frequent flyers. One of the best perks is the Excursionist Perk, which is a free stopover when you’re booking an award ticket.

This means you can visit a third destination, at no extra cost, when you’re already visiting two destinations in different regions on the same trip.

Excursionist Perk Rules

The Excursionist Perk follows a few rules to be eligible. Firstly, you need to book all your flights under the MileagePlus region.

Secondly, you have to book three segments on the same award type and class, and the middle segment must be in a different region than the other two. Lastly, the free segment you add must be in the same region as your final destination.

Booking trips with the Excursionist Perk

It can be challenging to figure out how to structure your itinerary to use the Excursionist Perk to its fullest potential, but there are multiple options to ensure you’re maximizing your free stopover. For example, you could begin your journey in New York, fly to Paris, then take a train to Barcelona, and finally flying home through Madrid, all while only using two segments on the same award type and class.

The key is to plan ahead and find different destinations in the same region where you can visit on one trip.

United MileagePlus miles

To earn

United MileagePlus miles, you have a variety of options that can add up quickly. One of the easiest and fastest ways is to sign up for a United-branded credit card.

Most United credit cards come with generous welcome bonuses, and you can also earn miles on everyday purchases. Other benefits of having a United credit card include priority boarding, free checked bags, and access to United Club lounges.

United Credit Cards

If you’re a frequent United Airlines flyer, the United Explorer Card is a great option with a welcome bonus, anniversary bonus, and other exclusive benefits. If you’re a business owner, the United Business Card might be a better fit, with bonus miles when you use your card on United purchases and office expenses, and you can also get employee cards at no extra cost.

Chase Credit Cards

Another great way to earn United miles is through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. By holding a Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer Chase points directly to your United MileagePlus account at a 1:1 ratio.

This way, you can combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with your

United MileagePlus miles and book award travel together.


In conclusion, United Airlines offers a range of benefits to frequent travelers, and the Excursionist Perk and

United MileagePlus miles give travelers even more options to save money and get the most out of their journey. Knowing how to use these benefits to your advantage can make traveling more affordable, enjoyable, and hassle-free.

So, next time you plan a trip, consider using the Excursionist Perk or earning

United MileagePlus miles with a United credit card or transfer your points from a Chase credit card. Happy travels!

Background on United’s policies

United Airlines, like most airlines, has changed its policies over the years.

In 2018, United removed its old stopover policy, which allowed passengers to take a break in a city along the way to their final destination and resume their trip later. Instead, United introduced the Excursionist Perk, which allows travelers a free stopover, though it comes with additional restrictions.

The Excursionist Perk is United’s attempt to simplify its policy and reward customers more while also making it easier for them to understand the process. One of the reasons United has created the Excursionist Perk was that it encourages round-trip bookings while making the process simpler.

Specifically, the perk allows passengers who are planning a round-trip itinerary to add a free middle segment without adding any additional cost to their award booking. This means that if a traveler chooses to book a round-trip itinerary rather than two one-way flights, they can add a free stopover at no extra cost, making the process of booking more comfortable and less confusing.

List of airlines offering free stopovers on award bookings

United is not the only airline that offers free stopovers on award bookings. While the list of airlines that offer free stopovers is far less than it used to be, some airlines still offer this option to passengers.

Emirates and Icelandair are two examples of airlines that provide the option for free stopovers. Emirates allows travelers to spend time in Dubai on their way to their final destination, while Icelandair’s “stopover buddy” program provides personal guides who can take travelers to lesser-known destinations in Iceland – for free – before they continue their journey.

Understanding the Excursionist Perk

The Excursionist Perk is one of United Airlines’ most popular offerings. It’s essentially a free stopover that passengers can take advantage of when traveling on a round-trip itinerary.

Here’s how you can take advantage of this perk:

Step 1: Create an itinerary with three segments on your United MileagePlus account. Step 2: Book your flights and choose an itinerary where the middle segment is in a different region than the two other segments.

Step 3: Make sure to book your flights in the MileagePlus region and award type and class. Step 4: When booking your itinerary, United will automatically give you the Excursionist Perk as a free middle segment, which you can use as a stopover.

It’s important to note that the free stopover must be in the same region as your final destination, and all your flights must be on United Airlines or one of its partners. You can use this perk to your advantage to add an additional destination to your trip without any extra cost, making your travels more enjoyable while saving money.

How the Excursionist Perk works

The Excursionist Perk works by allowing passengers to add a free stopover in the middle of their round-trip itinerary. This means that a traveler booking a round-trip itinerary, with two segments in different regions, can add a free third segment at no extra cost.

United MileagePlus members can use this perk to create an itinerary that involves a stopover where they can explore a new destination before proceeding to their final destination. The Excursionist Perk is an excellent way of making your travel more enjoyable, comfortable, and cost-effective.

Passengers can use their United MileagePlus points to book award travel and take advantage of this perk. It’s worth noting, however, that travelers still have to follow the rules of the Excursionist Perk closely, such as making sure to book in the MileagePlus region, booking the same award type and class, and ensuring the free middle segment is in the same region as the final destination.


The Excursionist Perk is a valuable offering from United Airlines that gives travelers the opportunity to add another destination to their itinerary while saving money. The Excursionist Perk allows passengers to create unique itineraries that have more than one destination, at no extra cost.

It’s an excellent benefit for those who enjoy exploring new cities and cultures and maximizing their United MileagePlus points. By exploring different destinations while taking advantage of the Excursionist Perk, travelers can make the most of their travels, while also saving some cash.

Examples of using the Excursionist Perk

United Airlines’ Excursionist Perk is a great benefit that can help reduce travel costs and let you explore a new destination – at no extra cost. Here are two sample itineraries that you can try using this perk:

Sample Itinerary 1: An Easy Booking

Booking a simple itinerary using the Excursionist Perk is quite easy.

Here’s how you can book a trip from San Francisco to Istanbul, with a free stopover in Zurich, and then back to San Francisco:

Step 1: Go to United’s website and select ‘Advanced Search.’

Step 2: On the ‘Advanced Search’ page, select the ‘Multi-city’ option and input your city pairs and dates.

Step 3: For the first segment, select ‘San Francisco’ as your departure city and ‘Istanbul’ as your destination city.

Step 4: For the second segment, select ‘Zurich’ as your departure city and ‘San Francisco’ as your destination city.

Step 5: Select your desired dates for the segments, and choose the number of passengers traveling on your itinerary.

Step 6: Once you have input all the relevant details, click on ‘Find Flights.’

Step 7: United’s website will generate the itinerary prices for you. Look for an itinerary that includes a free stopover in Zurich – this will be your Excursionist Perk.

Step 8: Once you find the itinerary that suits your requirements, choose the fare class and confirm your travel details.

Sample Itinerary 2: A Slightly-More-Advanced Booking

For a more advanced itinerary using the Excursionist Perk, you could create a multi-stop itinerary to take advantage of the free stopover.

Here’s an example:

Step 1: Book a flight from Washington DC to Chicago and then a flight from Chicago to Addis Ababa and Johannesburg.

Step 2: Look for a flight from Johannesburg to Los Angeles or San Francisco, and then from either city on the West Coast back to Washington DC.

Step 3: Make sure that all of your flights are in the same MileagePlus region and award type and class, and that your middle segment, Johannesburg to Los Angeles, is free.

Step 4: While selecting your flights, make sure to choose an itinerary that will allow you to spend a few days in Johannesburg before continuing your travels.

Step 5: Choose a fare class and complete the booking process.

This itinerary with the Excursionist Perk provides travelers the opportunity to visit three different continents in one trip, making it an excellent way to save money and visit more destinations.


United Airlines’ Excursionist Perk is an excellent benefit for travelers who want to maximize their travel while saving money. These sample itineraries demonstrate how the Excursionist Perk allows you to add another destination or two to your trip at no extra cost.

By following the rules of the program, you can create unique and fantastic itineraries that take you to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Using the Excursionist Perk is also relatively easy to do, especially when using United’s website advanced search.

Enjoy making the most of your travels with the Excursionist Perk!

In summary, United Airlines’ Excursionist Perk is an excellent program for frequent travelers that offers a free stopover on round-trip itineraries. To take advantage of this perk, passengers must follow the rules and ensure all flights are booked in the MileagePlus region, award type, and class.

The Excursionist Perk is designed to simplify the booking process while allowing travelers to add another destination to their trip without incurring any additional costs. By exploring different destinations while using the Excursionist Perk, travelers can make the most of their trips and save money.

The Excursionist Perk is easy and simple to use and is an excellent way for travelers to maximize their United MileagePlus points.

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