One of the best perks in the travel industry is over at United Airlines. United has what it calls the Excursionist Perk. Usually when one of the legacy carriers (American, Delta, United) does something, the others follow, but in this case, United stands alone on the first place podium. In short, if you book an award trip (really easy to do with an United credit card perk–and you should always get airline credit cards because they pay for themselves, but, you guessed it, that’s another post!), you can actually take another absolutely free flight to another place while you’re on that trip. There are a few stipulations, but no tricks. Here’s United’s official explanation:
If you’re not familiar with your airport codes, that’s Chicago to London-Heathrow, then London to Paris- Charles de Gaulle, then Paris back to Chicago. That’s huge. That would have been a lovely thing for me on my Europe trip last summer, but I was outpriced of that one, since I paid a different way and on a different airline.
Travel + Leisure magazine published this more in-depth story on the Excursionist Perk, which explains more complex ways in which you can use it as well.
You may think getting a long stopover is easy, but the fact is, the “rules” are that a layover on international travel is not supposed to be more than 23 hours and 59 minutes. So this perk is truly a perk. I just tried an award mile booking with my own miles, just to see if it truly cost me 0 miles if I tried this, and it did, even if I tried to do this in a few weeks. What a wonderful extra benefit! Additionally, though United is joining the other legacy carriers in playing with some dynamic award-pricing (meaning that now award tickets cost more at peak times instead of the usual set price if there was availability), that may be a boon because if you can fly internationally at a non-peak time, you can use those award miles to your benefit. That may be overly optimistic, but it could happen. Either way, even a 60K round trip award trip to two European nations, as one example, if quite a big deal. So far I have 46,000 United miles in my account after about 6 months–and I have not yet taken a single flight on United or a partner airline–yet!–so I can attest to the fact that obtaining miles on United is not too difficult! More on that in my next post where I review the United Explorer Card.