United Excursionist Perk: Travel more for fewer miles

United’s MileagePlus program has undergone significant changes in recent times, and not all of them have been well-received by members. One of the most notable changes was the increase in award prices on certain routes without any prior notice. Some routes saw an increase of up to 122%, leaving many members frustrated and feeling as though they were being taken advantage of.

Additionally, United launched a new feature called Money + Miles, which allows MileagePlus members to redeem their miles at a rate of just one cent per mile towards cash airfare. This rate is considered underwhelming by many, as it significantly devalues the miles and makes them less valuable for award travel.

However, despite these unfavorable changes, there is still one valuable feature of the United MileagePlus program that remains intact – the Excursionist Perk. This perk allows members to add a one-way flight to a round-trip award ticket without using any extra miles. This can be a highly valuable tool for those looking to maximize the value of their United miles and enjoy fantastic award itineraries at a low cost.

The Excursionist Perk is not well-defined by United, which allows for some flexibility and creativity when utilizing it. The basic rule is that the free one-way segment must be within a different MileagePlus-defined region than where the travel originates and ends. The cabin of service and award inventory of the free one-way must also be the same or lower than the preceding leg. Only the first occurrence of a qualifying one-way award will be free.

To better understand this perk, let’s consider an example. Imagine you’re planning a round-trip business-class award flight from Newark to London. With the Excursionist Perk, you can add a free segment within the region you’re visiting, as long as it’s a different region than where you’re starting. In this case, you could add a segment from London to Brussels at no additional cost in terms of miles. This allows you to visit an additional city and save money on your ticket.

Booking United Excursionist itineraries is relatively straightforward and can be done online. You simply need to use the “Advanced search” tool on the United homepage and select the “Multi-city” option. Plug in the segments you want to book, and the Excursionist Perk will automatically be applied if your itinerary follows the perk’s logic.

There are numerous examples of Excursionist itineraries that can be created using this perk. For instance, you can plan a trip to various cities in East Asia, starting in South Korea and visiting Bangkok and Manila. The Excursionist Perk allows you to fly between these cities without using any additional miles.

Another example is a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. With the Excursionist Perk, you can visit the major cities of Quito and Guayaquil, as well as the Galapagos Islands, all on a single ticket without using any extra miles.

Dynamic pricing can also work to your advantage when utilizing the Excursionist Perk. By nesting your desired flight between two separate trips, you can sometimes get a better deal in terms of miles and save money on your overall itinerary.

The Excursionist Perk is a valuable feature of the United MileagePlus program, allowing members to add a free one-way segment to their round-trip award ticket. While United has made some unfavorable changes to its program, the Excursionist Perk remains a great tool for those looking to maximize the value of their miles and create amazing award itineraries at a low cost. With a bit of understanding and effort, members can take advantage of this perk and enjoy some fantastic travel experiences.

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