United’s Excursionist Perk: Excellent for Positioning Flights?

Nick’s current put up “Taking an Excursionist Perk for a spin for a visit to Africa” confirmed methods to make use of United’s Excursionist Perk to avoid wasting plenty of miles when flying inside Africa.  On this case, Nick confirmed how he may use a positioning flight inside Europe to get a free award flight inside Africa.  That put up acquired me pondering…  Is United’s Excursionist Perk the best resolution for extra widespread conditions?  For instance, after we see nice offers for flights to Europe, however the flights don’t go from and to the precise airports we wish, may we get the wanted positioning flights by utilizing the United Excursionist Perk and save a bunch of miles within the course of?

Overview

United gives a profit known as the “Excursionist Perk”, which supplies you a free one-way inside a single area when your journey begins and ends in a unique area.  Right here’s a easy instance: Let’s say you utilize United miles to fly from the US to Paris after which again to the US from Frankfurt.  With United’s Excursionist Perk, you’ll get a flight from Paris to Frankfurt at no cost.  To guide a visit like that, merely use United’s Superior Search characteristic, choose “miles” and “multi-city” and put in all three legs (e.g. residence airport to Paris; Paris to Frankfurt; Frankfurt to residence) after which United ought to present that the center phase is free (that’s, it prices zero miles, however you’ll have to pay required charges).

That’s all good, however a trick that we’ve written about a number of occasions prior to now is that you just don’t have to make use of the Excursionist Perk as meant.  You may guide a flight totally inside the U.S.; then a flight throughout Europe (presumably you should have gotten to Europe a unique manner); then one other flight inside the U.S.  By doing this, the flight throughout Europe shall be free (plus charges).

For extra in regards to the Excursionist Perk, try these posts:

The positioning flights thought…

Map courtesy of Nice Circle Mapper.  This state of affairs imagines that you just already booked two flights: DC to London, and Athens to Newark.  Now it’s important to learn the way to get from Detroit to/from to every of these airports and to your required vacation spot (Istanbul).

Think about you’re planning a visit to Europe.  You snagged an excellent deal on a flight from DC to London, and also you additionally snagged an excellent deal on a return flight from Athens to Newark.  You’re glad to spend time in every of these European cities, however you actually wish to go to Istanbul, so you must get from London to Istanbul and later from Istanbul to Athens.  Additionally, let’s say that your closest airport is Detroit, so that you’ll must get from Detroit to DC in your outbound flight and also you’ll must return Newark to Detroit.

Right here’s a abstract of this state of affairs:

  • Begin: Detroit
  • June 15: DC to London (already booked)
  • Vacation spot: Istanbul
  • June 26: Athens to Newark (already booked)
  • Return to: Detroit

If we guide every of the positioning flights individually, right here’s what it will price:

  • June 15 Detroit to DC: 9.2K* + $5.60 (or 6.5K LifeMiles + $5.60)
    * The 9.2K worth is because of my having a United bank card. In any other case this flight would price 15K
  • June 18 London to Istanbul: 16K + $77.30 (or 10K Turkish miles + $98.25)
  • June 25 Istanbul to Athens: 6K + $25.10
  • June 26 Newark to Detroit: 19.2K + $5.60 (or fly Delta for 7.5K Virgin factors + $5.60)

Totals:

  • E book solely with United miles: 50,400 + $113.60
  • E book with greatest miles for every flight: 30K miles + $134.55

Excursionist Perk

Now let’s take the instance above and use an Excursionist Perk to get the 16K flight from London to Istanbul for 0 miles:

  • Click on “Superior Search”
  • Choose “Miles”
  • Choose “Multi-Metropolis”
  • Enter the Detroit to DC, London to Istanbul, and Newark to Detroit legs

We now have the next:

  • Excursionist Perk: 28.4K miles + $88.50
    • June 15 Detroit to DC: 9.2K*  + $5.60
      * The 9.2K worth is because of my having a United bank card. In any other case this flight would price 15K
    • June 18 London to Istanbul: 0K + $77.30
      (0 miles resulting from Excursionist Perk)
    • June 26 Newark to Detroit: 19.2K + $5.60
  • June 25 Istanbul to Athens: 6K + $25.10

Totals:

  • Solely United miles:
    • With out Excursionist Perk: 50,400 + $113.60
    • With Excursionist Perk: 34.4K + $113.60
  • Greatest miles for every flight: 30K miles + $134.55

As you’ll be able to see, the full worth with the Excursionist Perk is 16,000 miles cheaper than with out it.  And, in comparison with reserving with the perfect miles for every flight, the Excursionist perk possibility is simply 4,400 miles extra and $21 cheaper.  That’s hardly an incredible deal, nevertheless it has the benefit of simplicity when reserving all legs with one service (apart from the transatlantic legs) plus, because you’d be reserving all of it by means of United, you’ll get free adjustments and cancellations.  That looks as if a superb tradeoff to me.

Can we do higher?  I believe so…

Two Excursionist Perks

One of many issues with the primary Excursionist perk instance is that the ultimate flight from Newark to Detroit is surprisingly costly with United miles (19,200 miles).  Let’s see if we will get that leg at no cost by nesting two Excursionist Perks…

Excursionist Perk 1

  • June 15 Detroit to DC: 9.2K*  + $5.60
    * The 9.2K worth is because of my having a United bank card. In any other case this flight would price 15K
  • June 18 London to Istanbul: 0K + $77.30
    (free phase resulting from Excursionist Perk)
  • A lot later: throw away phase: 5.5K + $5.60
    Instance: October 26 Las Vegas to Los Angeles
  • Whole for Excursionist Perk 1: 14,700 miles + $88.50

Excursionist Perk 2

  • June 25 Istanbul to Athens: 6K + $25.10
  • June 26 July 1 Newark to Detroit: 0K + $5.60
    (free phase resulting from Excursionist Perk)
  • A lot later: throw away phase: 5.45K + $18.50
    Instance: October 17 Oslo to Stockholm
  • Whole for Excursionist Perk 2: 11,450 miles + $49.20

Totals:

  • Solely United miles:
    • With out Excursionist Perk: 50,400 + $113.60
    • With One Excursionist Perk: 34.4K + $113.60
    • With Two Excursionist Perks: 26,150 + $137.70
  • Greatest miles for every flight: 30K miles + $134.55

Two Excursionist Perk Dialogue

This one didn’t actually work out as I had hoped.  The primary Excursionist Perk labored with no hitch, however the second didn’t present a free flight from Newark to Detroit on June twenty sixth.  I had forgotten that there must be a saver award accessible for this to work.  So, I picked the following accessible day the place I may get that flight for 0 miles (July 1).  That’s not likely truthful to the eventualities the place I calculated the value at as a result of the baseline worth for the flight on that day is simply 9.9K miles for cardholders (vs 17.5K with no United card!).  If we recalculate the opposite choices with that 9.9K worth (9.3K decrease than the unique worth), we get the next:

  • Solely United miles:
    • With out Excursionist Perk: 41.1K + $113.60
    • With One Excursionist Perk: 25.1K + $113.60
    • With Two Excursionist Perks: 26,150 + $137.70
  • Greatest miles for every flight: 30K miles + $134.55

Now we see that the only Excursionist Perk possibility actually is the most suitable choice!

How I recognized the “greatest” costs

Usually when worth looking for flights, I look to a number of award search instruments and likewise examine money charges.  For the aim of this put up, although, I simplified issues and appeared solely at award costs.  Moreover, I solely used PointsYeah to search out the perfect different choices to United miles.  This leaves out doubtlessly higher choices reminiscent of reserving with British Airways.  Nonetheless, for the aim of this temporary experiment, I assumed this instrument was lots adequate.

Conclusion

Via the above thought experiment I discovered that United’s Excursionist Perk could be a superb possibility for reserving a number of positioning flights for fewer miles.  Whereas I didn’t discover the ultimate worth to be a lot better than piecing collectively the perfect choices for every phase, there are some benefits to reserving every little thing by means of one program — particularly a program like United which permits free adjustments and cancellations.

The most important draw back to utilizing an Excursionist Perk for positioning flights is that you just’ll then have three segments which might be dependent upon one another.  If one thing occurred the place you now not wanted the primary or second leg of the Excursionist Perk, you would need to cancel the whole factor.

After I acquired fancy with two nested Excursionist Perks, the outcomes weren’t nice.  That will change when you had been in a scenario the place you wanted two costly flights, every inside a single area, and the place every was accessible as a saver award.  It could additionally change when you didn’t must guide throw-away ending flights however moderately may use these additional legs for future journey.



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