Travel Further with the United Excursionist Perk | Explore More Destinations on Award Bookings

Travel Further with the United Excursionist Perk | Explore More Destinations on Award Bookings


Airfare is usually one of the most expensive
aspects of travel. Even with airline miles and points, it can
often be pricey to see multiple cities on a single trip without using up a ton of your
points. Hey, how’s it going, everyone? It’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In this video, I want to explore a feature
from United called the Excursionist Perk, and discuss how you might want to use it on
your next trip to fly further and to more locations. In the past, I’ve talked about the 23:59
rule for stopovers and connections. That process is still valid, but it is complicated. And sometimes, you want a bit more time and
flexibility to see another city. So today, I want to discuss the United Excursionist
Perk, and how you can use it to save on airfare. Before we get started, if you’re new here,
welcome to our channel. Trip Astute is a travel channel that is focused
on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more enjoyable. Traveling can be stressful and expensive,
so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience through travel tips, points
and miles, and innovative gear. If that sounds interesting to you, please
consider subscribing. The Excursionist Perk from United essentially
allows you to add a free additional one-way flight to a roundtrip award ticket. For example, suppose you want to fly from
Los Angeles to Paris, then fly from Paris to London, then return to Los Angeles from
London. The Excursionist Perk allows you to do this
and makes the middle flight free, with the exception of fees and taxes. Now there are some rules that you need to
follow. First off, the booking has to be made on one
flight plan. This means that in order to activate the Excursionist
Perk, you have to book this as one multi-flight trip and not as three separate and individual
one-way flights. The perk only applies to award bookings, not
cash tickets. Your flight must involve at least two regions. The origin and destination of your Excursionist
Perk flight has to be within the same region, which is defined by United. The award type of the Excursionist Perk flight
has to be the same as the start and end flights. That means that you can’t book a business
class flight in the middle unless your starting and ending flights are business class. Lastly, the final destination region must
match the origination region. So, let’s look at United’s region map. United has 17 regions listed. Some regions are extremely small and limited,
like the Hawaii, Mexico, and Japan region. However, you’ll also notice that other regions
are massive and contain a lot of different countries. Understanding these distinctions is important
when you plan an itinerary with the Excursionist Perk. For most people, the most simple way to get
value from this perk is to book any additional flight within your travel plan. If you’re traveling from the mainland US,
perhaps that’s an extra city in Europe, South Asia, or even an island hop in Hawaii. There are a lot of possibilities with this
perk, and you’re mostly limited by where United Airlines flies and any fuel charges
or fees that you encounter when booking. In order to book using the Excursionist perk,
you’ll want to book directly from United Airline’s website. I recommend logging into your account first,
then clicking on Advanced Search. You’ll want to select Yes on the “Do you
want to book a MileagePlus award ticket” question. Then you’ll want to select the multi-city
option. From there, you just specify the destinations
where you want to fly, the dates, and times if you have a preference. You can also specify the number of connections,
though I would leave all options selected in case your destination has limited award
seat availability. You’ll then select the flights that you
want. Keep in mind that the points listed are for
each leg. So in this case, you’ll see that I am looking
at Saver Award flight of 30,000 points and fee of $5.60 to fly from Los Angeles to Paris. Once I select my flight, I am then shown the
middle flight. You’ll notice that the award miles needed
for this flight is zero. This is Excursionist perk being applied to
your itinerary. Once I select this flight, I’ll then be
shown the final flight, and I can complete the booking. It’s that simple! And since United is a travel partner with
Chase, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to them if you have a premium Chase
travel card like the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. It’s really a great way to see more places
without having to pay for another full-price flight. For most people, this is probably how you’ll
use this perk. But then, there might be a few of you that
noticed a bit of ambiguity in the wording of the rules. Specifically, you might have noticed that
the origin and destination of your Excursionist Perk flight has to be within the same region,
but it doesn’t specify that it has to be in the same region as your starting and ending
flight. Also, the final destination region must match
the origination region. However, the entire US mainland is one region,
which means that you could end your flight in a completely different US city. This lack of specificity allows you to plan
trips in the future by mixing flights within different itineraries. I could use the perk to book three unrelated
flights as my multi-city itinerary as long as they follow the rules. For example, suppose I planned to visit New
York in September and February. But I also am planning to be in Paris in November
for work. I could book an itinerary where I am flying
from Los Angeles to New York, then Paris to London, then Los Angeles to New York again. The middle flight still shows 0 miles. This is because we are still following all
the rules. Since Los Angeles and New York are in the
same region, we are meeting the requirements of starting and ending a flight in the same
region. The middle flight needs to be between two
cities of the same region, and the itinerary has to have involve two regions. I will add a few caveats with this strategy
and approach though. For one, you would need to have planned out
your flights way in advance, which can be hard with work schedules and commitments. In order to maximize this approach, you would
need to have a large gap between your starting and final flights since your middle flight
would need to occur in between the two. That also means that if you were to have to
change your flight plan, you would be looking at potentially multiple bookings to edit,
which means a lot of change fees. Plus, if your trip spanned multiple flight
plans using this perk, you might not have many options if your flight is canceled or
delayed during your trip. So, there are inherent risks with mixing and
matching flights in your flight plans. I don’t know if I would go too crazy with
this approach. The option is there, and for those of you
with aggressive travel planning, this could be a very lucrative way to book a future flight
using the perk. However, I know that in our experience, life
can be unpredictable, especially when traveling. While this approach can save you money, it
does limit your options in case your plans change or your travel is interrupted. For most people, the simple way of just adding
another stop on your travel plans is going probably be extremely valuable in itself. But again, for those of you that have mapped
out your travels for the entire year, this could be an easy way to score some free award
flights, even if you have to pay the taxes and fees. If you do plan to go this route, here are
some things to keep in mind. 1. There is no mileage or segment limitation:
As long as your middle flight is within a same region, it doesn’t matter how long
the flight is, or even if there is a long stopover. That means that you could layer in long stopovers
to see even more places. On that note, 2. Focus on larger regions for more value: You’ll
probably get the most value from your middle flights on ones within a large geographic
region. Areas like the mainland US, Europe, Africa,
South Asia, and Australia and New Zealand might be ones to look at if you have any trips
planned in those regions. However, even if it’s not the best value,
you could get an island to island flight in Hawaii if you happen to be flying there with
United. While it’s great to maximize the value of
the middle flight, don’t underestimate the experience that might be gained even for a
short and inexpensive middle flight. 3. Clear your browser cookies: If you’re searching
for different flights on the United website, you might eventually find that the site seems
to crash or show no availability. If this happens to you, I recommend clearing
the cookies in your browser. After I did it, the site seemed to be back
to normal again. 4. Consider the United Explorer card: While it’s
not my favorite card to use, the reason I have and keep my United Explorer card is that
it does give me a free checked bag, priority boarding, and most importantly, additional
award seat availability. If you have the card, you will see more available
award seats on flights. Again, I still prefer to use my Chase Sapphire
Reserve when booking my ticket. However, having the United Explorer card has
helped me with finding additional award flight options, so it’s worth considering if you
plan to use this perk a lot. Have you tried using the United Excursionist
perk? Have you been able to score some amazing middle
flights? Also, let us know if you have any additional
tips or questions. If you’re interested in applying for a credit
card, we would love it if you used our link in the video description or on our website. It’s an easy way to support our channel,
especially if you’ve found our content to be valuable and helpful. Also, if you need any help with picking the
right credit card or developing a card strategy, sign-up for our free card consultation service. You basically fill out a questionnaire and
schedule a 15-minute video or audio call with me to review your recommendation. As always, we hope you enjoyed the video and
found it useful. If so, please give us a thumbs up and consider
sharing the video with others. It really helps us with growing our channel
and community. Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.

13 thoughts on “Travel Further with the United Excursionist Perk | Explore More Destinations on Award Bookings

  1. Have you used the United Excursionist Perk? If not, do you think you'll use it on your next award booking with United? 😎

  2. I was aware of the United Excursionist Perk but did not really understand it. Now I do. Thank-you.

    This may have been in the video and I missed it, but can you have multiple middle fights or just one? Thanks again.

  3. I’ve never used it, but am aware of it. I’ve played around with it on United’s website to see what kind of value I can get. You have to watch out for the fees, but it would be an amazing way to do a multi-city trip abroad. Just another reason to go with a Chase UR setup.

  4. Pro tip you can use the excursionist perk to Euro trip really effectively. You can leave from the US and take one way flights all the way across Europe (up to 6 legs). Also you don’t have to have your second leg be US to US. It could be US to Europe > 5 one way flights > One way flight back to US.

  5. What mic do you use for your videos? And where do you place it? Im trying to get the level of crispness you have!

  6. Thank you, Ernest. That was the simplest, clearest explanation of the Excursionist Perk that I've seen. As such, it will be easier to remember. Keep up the great work.

  7. One thing: I was playing around with a business class routing and it let me insert an Economy segment at no mileage cost as part of the itinerary. i understood your video to say that you had to stick with one class of service. But perhaps you meant "same or lower class."

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