Earlier this week, United announced it would begin service to Iceland starting next May. The new route creates a great opportunity for an Iceland stopover on your way to Europe or back if using United miles.
Last year, United Airlines took away the traditional stopover on MileagePlus awards (long after American and Delta had done the same thing) and introduced something new called an “Excursionist Perk”. I discuss this in detail here.
The new stopover policy, perhaps more easily defined as a free segment, boils down to this–
The free segment is always going to be the first segment in a single region different from the region of origin.
(credit to Travel is Free for that verbiage)
So how does that work for a United award to Europe?
United broadly defines Europe and does not divide it into two regions as some other carriers do. Consequently, Iceland is in the same region as Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia (and of course everything in between).
So say you want to start your trip to Europe in beautiful Iceland and then go on to Germany…or say even Yerevan, Armenia. Under United’s Excursionist Perk rules this would be no problem.
Fly to Iceland on the new United or Air Canada flight, stay as long as you’d like, then continue on to Europe. You can even backtrack through Continental Europe if there is no space on the nonstop flights from North America to Iceland.
Want to come back on another ticket, perhaps using Alaska or American miles?
Add a 10K “throw away” shorthaul segment from, say, Newark to Boston, and you’ll still get a one-way business class ticket all the way to Armenia with a stopover in Iceland for only 67.5K miles (or 40K miles in economy class). And hopefully you can even use the domestic ticket at a later time. Here’s a look at an economy example–
How does all of this work? Remember, the free segment is always going to be the first segment in a single region different from the region of origin. Since the trip starts in the USA and first goes to Iceland, the next flight would be free if 1.) it was a flight within (broadly-defined) Europe and 2.) you have a return segment to the region of origin.
The return segment does not have to be from Europe, it just must be a return to the same region as origin, hence my suggestion for the cheap Newark to Boston flight if you want to come home via another routing.
On Monday, I’ll detail another great United deal — using Iceland as your springboard to Europe using only 15K miles in economy class or 25K in business class. But the takeaway from this post is that United defines Europe broadly and the new mid-Atlantic United destination makes a stopover in Iceland easier than ever before using United miles.
image: Moyan Brenn / Wikimedia Commons