How to Get a Free One-Way Domestic Ticket When You Book an International Award with United

Last year I wrote about how you can get a free ticket to Hawaii added to your American Airlines award ticket to Europe or South America (read the details here).

I’m more of a United guy, so I was shocked when I learned you can tack on a free one-way domestic ticket when you book an international award on United. How?

United allows one stopover and one openjaw on roundtrip international (and Hawaii) award tickets. They don’t allow stopovers on domestic tickets, nor do they allow stopovers on one-way tickets. Here’s how you can maximize that policy:

If you are flying roundtrip from, say, Newark to Frankfurt, you can add on a leg at a later date – up to 11 months later -from, for example, Newark to Los Angeles for the same 60,000 miles it would have cost you flying only Newark-Frankfurt roundtrip. Check out this screenshot:

It prices out at just 60,000 miles for the Newark-Frankfurt plus the Newark-Los Angeles leg later.

This is pretty huge, as you can tack on a free trip to the lower 48 or Alaska any time you fly overseas.

This is true even on flights to the Caribbean – 35,000 miles gets you the roundtrip to the Caribbean, plus a one-way anywhere in the non-Hawaii United States.

But what if you wanted to tack on Hawaii? Great news: it’s only 62,500 miles — that’s right, it’s only an extra 2,500 miles to tack on a flight from Newark to Honolulu onto your Newark-Frankfurt roundtrip.

Want to add on Costa Rica? That’s also just another 2,500 miles.

How about a roundtrip from Newark to Nassau (Bahamas) + a one-way from Newark to Honolulu? Just 37,500 miles — a 2,500 mile bump over the cost of a roundtrip from Newark to Nassau.

Yes, this is ridiculously powerful, and I can’t believe I’ve missed it in the past. I’ve now spent the better part of an hour driving myself crazy over missed opportunities from the past years. Ugh.

Don’t miss out – this works even if you’re not in a hub city (unlike American, where you can only stopover in a gateway city).

Enjoy your free flights…

(100% credit for finding this goes to Milevalue – I have no idea how I never noticed it before)


  1. Excellent find!!!

    Thank you.

  2. hi jared,

    does the hawaii tack on flight work if it is before the international flight?


  3. oops nevermind. i see its only 1 way.

  4. This is epic! I’ll be planning my next two trips to Italy and Costa Rica to take advantage of this. UA: IAD-FRA-FLR-FRA-IAD (stopover) IAH-SJO then AA: SJO-MIA-DCA. This will not only save me 60,000 miles on four tickets but I can afford to come back in Business/First with my AA miles since it’s only one-way.

    Another thing: if I were to choose Business for the IAD-SJO leg, it gives me Business back from FRA to IAD as well! I won’t be taking advantage of that because I don’t have enough for four tickets in Business but this is still pretty sweet.

  5. This is great, but I wish I found out about this a 3 weeks ago! I just booked a rewards flight for 3 people to Italy for next July. Do you think there’s anyway I could still take advantage of this? I know I could probably cancel the flight and rebook but I doubt it’ll be worth it after the fees. I’m flying out out of Boston, and would love to get some free flights to the west coast or Costa Rica.

  6. Can you do one-way international bookings?

    flying to GIG in Feb. found lowest redemption at 30K on Feb 13th, looking to throw in a YYZ or NYC prior to that date…
    so YYZ to DFW to GIG for 30K?

    Is one way extra stop possible?

  7. Keep in mind. AA works this way(one way international redemption).

    I’m looking to fly United to GIG but back with AA(as they have direct/redeye to work). Looking to add a few leg each direction.

    Tried on United, getting error saying no available flights. I checked each leg separately and confirmed both are under the lowest redemption requirement.

    Any ideas?

    • United requires a roundtrip ticket for a stopover, so you can’t do the itinerary you’re hoping for.

  8. I had my itinerary laid out for an award ticket using us miles but booking on a partner airline (united). Norfolk to San Jose (CR) round trip in January and adding on a one-way Norfolk- Newark in Sept. it came to 70.000 miles plus $ 108 for two tickets on the United site ( ready to book). When I spoke to Us Airways agent, I was told it could not be booked. What now – Call again and talk to a different agent ?