United Airlines' excursionist perk is a great benefit of the MileagePlus program that can get you a free one-way flight. Basically, the excursionist perk is a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries. If you book an itinerary with three or more one-way awards, you can receive one of those one-way awards for free, if it meets the rules described below.
United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Chase also issues many co-branded United Airlines credit cards, including personal and business cards. Between the co-branded United cards and Chase's UR-earning cards, United miles are pretty easy to earn. With the excursionist perk, your United miles can take you even farther.
Excursionist Perk Rules
United's website sets forth a few rules governing the excursionist perk. Your booking has to meet these rules to trigger the perk. From United's website:
The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates. (For example, if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America.)
- Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
- The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.
- The cabin of service and award inventory of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
- If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.
These rules are pretty straightforward. Also, the flights can be on any Star Alliance partner bookable through United's website. So you are not limited only to United flights.
Here is an example of how to apply these rules. Say you want to fly from the U.S. to London, and you also want to visit Rome before heading back home. By following the rules above, you can snag a free award flight from London to Rome.
How to Search and Book the Excursionist Perk
To search for the three or more flights you'll need for the excursionist perk, you will have to do a multi-city search. This is available under United's advanced search option on their home page.
In the advanced search page, make sure to choose to view flight prices in miles at the top. Then, select “Multi-city” on the right. At the bottom, you can click “Add another destination” to add additional one-way flights.
Once you click “Find Flights,” United's search engine will show availability for each flight in order. If your itinerary follows the excursionist perk rules, then the eligible flight will display as costing zero miles. Remember that you will still have to pay taxes and fees like you would for a regular award.
Once you select each of the legs for your trip, the itinerary summary will display each of your legs and the total amount of miles and taxes/fees for your booking.
United's excursionist perk is great for saving some miles on a multi-city trip. Your itinerary must follow United's published rules, but these are pretty straightforward. The excursionist perk also really shines with expensive routes to remote destinations, such as the Galapagos. Play around with United's user-friendly search engine and see what you can find! Lastly, remember that you will still have to pay applicable taxes and fees for the excursionist leg.
Have you used the excursionist perk? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!