Understanding and Maximizing the United Excursionist Perk [2021]

United Airlines Plane

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Frequent travelers have probably heard a time or two about the United Excursionist Perk. But, by and large, this benefit tends to be underrated. Whether you’re a United loyalist or not, the Excursionist Perk can provide tons of value — especially when you get creative to maximize those savings.

Let’s take a look at what the United Excursionist Perk is, how to use it, and the best ways to take advantage of it.

What Is the United Excursionist Perk?

Paris Eiffel Towel
The Excursionist Perk can get you free stopovers just about anywhere in the world, including Paris. Image Credit: Eugene Dorosh via Pexels

First things first: what exactly is the United Excursionist Perk? If you’re unfamiliar with the program, you may be surprised to hear that the Excursionist Perk will give you a free flight on award flights. Note that it doesn’t apply to all flights — you’ll need to book a multi-city flight using your United MileagePlus miles in order to qualify. This is built-in automatically to your flight search, and we’ll show you how to conduct this search below.

So what’s the point of the Excursionist Perk? Ostensibly, it’s United’s way of rewarding travelers with a free stopover. Let’s say you fly from the U.S. to Paris, then Paris to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt back to the U.S. United will charge you for both legs to and from the U.S. but will give you the Paris to Frankfurt leg for free.

An important thing to know is the free flight will be in the same fare class you booked for your original flight. If you’re traveling in economy, your free leg will be in economy. If you’ve booked in business, your free leg will be in business.

While a free flight from Paris to Frankfurt is nice, there are plenty of ways to stretch this perk, even for flights worth over a thousand dollars.

The United Excursionist Perk does have some limitations:

  • The Excursionist Perk cannot be used in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel started. As an example, if your journey began in North America, you’d only get the Excursionist Perk if your travel is in a region outside of North America.
  • Even if you’ve booked multiple awards that would qualify for this perk (in 1 itinerary), only the first qualifying leg will be free.
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.

Who Can Use the United Excursionist Perk?

Naturally, the United Excursionist Perk is only available to those with United MileagePlus accounts. The frequent flyer program is free to sign up for — and in case you haven’t already — you should always sign yourself up for rewards programs when booking flights or hotels.

You’ll need to use your United MileagePlus miles to fly. Although United is a Star Alliance partner, you can’t book through other common reward programs like Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

If you don’t have enough United MileagePlus miles to book yourself at least 2 one-way tickets, you’ll need to earn some more. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do so.

Flying

You can always earn miles by flying, though like the other Big 3 carriers in the U.S., United will award you miles based on the fare of your ticket, not how far you’ve flown. The award miles you earn will also vary on your elite status:

Membership LevelAward Miles Earned per $1 Spent
Member5x
Premier Silver7x
Premier Gold8x
Premier Platinum9x
Premier 1K11x

These earnings only apply on flights marketed and ticketed by United. If you’ve purchased a ticket with and are flying a partner airline, you’ll earn miles according to a different chart based on distance flown and fare class. This applies differently according to each airline, so you’ll want to check it out before booking.

Transferring Points

United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which means you can transfer over your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers are instantaneous and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn, as we’ll outline below.

You can also transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to United at a rate of 3:1.1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

Using Credit Cards

Perhaps the easiest way to earn United MileagePlus miles is through credit cards. Not only does United has a transfer partnership with Chase and Marriott Bonvoy, but it also has several different co-branded credit cards. Even better, plenty of these cards have large welcome offers, which will help boost your balance quickly:

Recommended United Cards

If you’re instead looking for the flexibility of a Chase card, these are good options:

Recommended Chase Cards

Finally, if you don’t want either option above, you can always opt to get a Marriott Bonvoy credit card — as a reminder, you can transfer over your Marriott Bonvoy points to United at a 3:1.1 ratio with a 5,000 miles bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer:

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card.
  • 2x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • 1x point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $0

$210
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Learn More
(at Chase's secure site)
  • Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases + 10X total points on eligible purchases in select categories.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17x total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • 2x Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850)
  • Annual Fee: $95

$1,050
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card


Learn More
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

$525
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card


Learn More
(at Amex's secure site)
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
  • Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-840)
  • Annual fee: $125
  • Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

$525

Bottom Line: There are plenty of ways to earn United MileagePlus miles, whether you’re looking to transfer from a partner, use a credit card, or take an actual flight. 

United Excursionist Perk Region Definitions

United doesn’t exactly give this benefit a ton of publicity. You’ll only find it when doing a multi-city search that falls under the above qualifications. One of the most important of these to understand is how United defines its regions. This is because your free leg has to both start and end in the same geographic region as defined by United:

RegionCountries in This Region
Mainland U.S., Alaska & CanadaMainland U.S., Alaska & Canada
HawaiiHawaii
MexicoMexico
CaribbeanAntigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman), Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands (British and U.S.)
Central AmericaBelize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Northern South AmericaColombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Southern South AmericaArgentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Middle EastAzerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Northern AfricaAlgeria, Canary Islands, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
Central & Southern AfricaAngola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Réunion Island, Rwanda, South Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
North AsiaChina (Mainland), Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan
Central AsiaAfghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
South AsiaBangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
JapanJapan
OceaniaAmerican Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa
Australia & New ZealandAustralia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island

This is a lot of information to take in at once. But the most important thing to note here is how broad some of these geographic regions are. Yes, you can fly from Paris to London and it’s all in the same region.

But by the rules of the Excursionist Perk, you could fly from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Cape Town, South Africa, which is a 6.5-hour flight. You could also fly from Fiji to French Polynesia without changing regions, or head from Kazakhstan to the Maldives on that complimentary flight.

Does all this make sense? No, not really. Not when countries like Japan and South Korea are separated into different regions. But because of these definitions, we have some room to play with Excursionist Perk flights.

Hot Tip: Be aware that you’ll need to find award availability for these flights, which may be difficult when employing some truly wacky routing. 

How To Use the United Excursionist Perk

In order to complete searches using the Excursionist Perk, you’ll first want to navigate to United’s website. Once there, click Advanced Search.

United advanced search
Image Credit: United Airlines

Once you’re on the advanced search page, select Multi-city. You’ll also want to select Miles rather than Money.

United EWR CDG FRA EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

From here you can input all your flights and dates. Remember, you’ll need at least 3 one-way flights in order to make this work, and they’ll need to be eligible according to United’s rules. After this, simply scroll down and hit Find Flights.

United find flights
Image Credit: United

If you haven’t already logged in, you’ll be prompted to do so at this point. Then, United will give you the results for your search, starting with your first flight (in this example, Newark (EWR) to Paris (CDG)):

United EWR CDG
Image Credit: United Airlines

Once you’ve selected your cabin, you’ll be taken to the results for the next flight. As you can see here, United has already accounted for the Excursionist Perk (Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA)):

United CDG FRA
Image Credit: United Airlines

After selecting your free flight, you’ll then be taken to your final flight (Frankfurt (FRA) to Newark (EWR)):

United FRA EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

Hot Tip: Don’t forget you can use the Excursionist Perk on business and first class flights, too — your first leg just needs to be in one of those cabins. 

United Excursionist Perk Example 1: Long-Haul Flights

We’ve already talked about the standard examples for using the United Excursionist Perk, but there are ways to really maximize this by playing around with United’s rules and region definitions. Let’s take a look at our first example.

Say you wanted to make a grand trip from the U.S. through Africa. You’re only using award miles for this, which means you’re going to want to stretch them as far as you can. One way to maximize this perk is by stretching your free flight out as long and as far as possible using United’s region definitions.

Here’s how your itinerary might look:

  • Flight 1 — Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT)
  • Flight 2 — Cape Town (CPT) to Addis Ababa (ADD)
  • Flight 3 — Addis Ababa (ADD) to Newark (EWR)

And here’s how it looks on the map:

GCmap Excursionist 1
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

For the first leg, you’re looking to fly out of Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT) in South Africa in economy class, which will cost you 40,000 United MileagePlus miles:

United EWR CPT
Image Credit: United Airlines

After South Africa, you’d like to head up to Addis Ababa (ADD) in Ethiopia — though the distance is far and flights aren’t cheap. By using the United Excursionist Perk, you can snag this leg without paying any additional miles:

United CPT ADD
Image Credit: United Airlines

You’re then planning on heading back to Newark (EWR) from Addis Ababa (ADD):

United ADD EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

All in, you’re out of pocket for a total of 80,000 miles plus ~$80 in taxes and fees. But what have you saved by maximizing the Excursionist Perk? The cash cost of that second-segment flight would be $587:

Google flights CPT ADD
Image Credit: Google Flights

As you can see, it’s a pretty pricey 6.5-hour flight. But what about in terms of miles?

United CPT ADD miles
Image Credit: United Airlines

Without using the Excursionist Perk, you’d instead be forking over 19,300 miles for that same flight. If you understand how United defines its regions, you can get great value when employing the Excursionist Perk.

FlightCost in Miles:
EWR-CPT
Cost in Miles:
CPT-ADD
Cost in Miles:
ADD-EWR
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk40,000040,00080,000
Without Excursionist Perk40,00019,30040,00099,300

Bottom Line: Maximizing United’s geographic regions can net you free flights that would be otherwise long and pricey without the United Excursionist Perk.  

United Excursionist Perk Example 2: Maximizing U.S. Flights

The above example is a good way to get value, but we can stretch this even further by taking a long, hard look at United’s rules for the Perk. For this example, we want to focus on these 2 rules in particular:

  • The Excursionist Perk cannot be used in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel started. 
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.

What does the above mean, in practice? It means if you’re starting out in the U.S., your free flight cannot take place in the U.S. It also means that your final flight must end in the U.S. Other than that, however, you can go wild.

Now let’s say that you still want to go to Africa, except you’ve decided you’re going to be in Angola and then head to Seychelles. (No, we don’t know what kind of trip you’re on either, but bear with us.)

Both of these locations are within the same region as we’ve outlined above, which means we can use the Excursionist Perk to get from Angola to Seychelles. But let’s say you don’t have enough miles to fly all the way to Africa first. Or perhaps you found an awesome paid fare that you’re wanting to take advantage of — whatever the reason, you don’t want to use your United MileagePlus miles to get all the way to Africa.

You can still take advantage of the Excursionist Perk to score that free flight by flying short-haul inexpensive United flights within the U.S.

Here’s what your itinerary might look like:

  • Flight 1 — Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Flight 2 — Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ)
  • Flight 3 — Las Vegas (LAS) to Los Angeles (LAX)

And here’s how these flights look on the map:

GCmap Excursionist 2
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

Here’s a nonstop flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS) that will cost you 5,000 miles in economy or 25,500 miles in first:

United LAX LAS
Image Credit: United Airlines

Now let’s add in our second one-way flight — the one we really want — from Luanda (LAD) in Angola to Victoria (SEZ) in Seychelles:

United Angola Seychelles
Image Credit: United Airlines

And finally, our third one-way leg, from Las Vegas (LAS) back to Los Angeles (LAX):

United LAS LAX
Image Credit: United Airlines

Our total out-of-pocket cost for these three flights? 10,000 miles and ~$64 in taxes and fees in economy class. Here’s what the routing looks like:

United advanced search 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

So why in the world would you want to do this instead of just booking the Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ) flight itself? Because it’s cheaper.

Here’s the cost for just that flight:

United LAD SEZ
Image Credit: United Airlines

So not only do you get a round-trip flight to Vegas with the Excursionist Perk, but you’ll also save yourself 9,300 miles when booking all 3 of those flights together versus booking that Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ) flight by itself.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget you can use these trips across all regions, including Asia, Europe, South America, and more, as long as you abide by United’s region definitions. 

For reference, the cash cost of the second-segment flight in economy class is $709:

Ethiopian LAD SEZ
Image Credit: Google Flights

In total, these flights could run you hundreds of dollars — or 10,000 just United MileagePlus miles.

FlightCost in Miles:
LAX-LAS
Cost in Miles:
LAD-SEZ
Cost in Miles:
LAS-LAX
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk5,00005,00010,000
Without Excursionist Perk5,00019,3005,00029,300

Bottom Line: The first and third legs of your flights using the United Excursionist Perk can be low-cost options in the U.S., which can save you huge amounts of miles versus booking your flights individually.

United Excursionist Perk Example 3: Stacking Simultaneous Bookings

Now, maybe you’ve got a couple of trips coming up, and you’re wondering how you can maximize the Excursionist Perk on all of them. As it’s written, it can be difficult to finagle a complete trip out of 1 booking. But what about 2? Let’s look.

There’s no rule against holding more than 1 award booking at a time, which means with 2 simultaneous bookings, you can create 3 different trips.

For this example, your itinerary might look like this:

  • Flight 1 — San Francisco (SFO) to Reno (RNO)
  • Flight 2 — London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN)
  • Flight 3 — Charlotte (CLT) to Washington, D.C. (IAD)

Here’s what these flights look like on the map (remember, these are round-trip bookings):

GCmap Excusrionist 3
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

How can you do this as cheaply as possible? By using the United Excursionist Perk twice, you can turn your 6 one-way tickets into 3 round-trip tickets. Let’s check out a sample routing.

For your first multi-city itinerary, you’ll book San Francisco (SFO) to Reno (RNO), London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN) in Armenia, and Charlotte (CLT) to Washington, D.C. (IAD):

United Multi City 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

Your second multi-city itinerary is going to be your way back, so you’ll book Reno (RNO) to San Francisco (SFO), Yerevan (EVN) to London (LHR), and Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Charlotte (CLT):

United Multi City 2
Image Credit: United Airlines

As long as you match the dates up correctly, you can take advantage of these simultaneous bookings in order to maximize your free flights. As you can see above, you’ve got a 3-night stay in Reno, a 14-night stay in Yerevan, and a 5-night stay in Washington, D.C.

Your total out-of-pocket cost for all of these flights? 23,000 miles and ~$250 in taxes and fees.

For reference, the cost of that London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN) flight on its own is around $330 in cash or 30,500 miles and ~$229 in taxes and fees:

United LHR EVN
Image Credit: United Airlines
FlightCost in Miles:
SFO-RNO, RNO-SFO
Cost in Miles:
LHR-EVN, EVN-LHR
Cost in Miles:
IAD-CLT, CLT-IAD
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk11,500011,50023,000
Without Excursionist Perk11,50030,55011,50053,550

Bottom Line: You can hold multiple bookings using the United Excursionist Perk in order to craft round-trip itineraries. 

United Excursionist Perk Example 4: Premium Transcontinental Flights

For our final example, we’re going to go ahead and flip this around. As we mentioned above, your travel must begin and end in the same region. Your free flight must also take place in a separate region.

But what happens if you start your flights outside North America? Ever wanted to try out United’s Polaris product on a flight across the U.S.?

Here’s what your itinerary might look like:

  • Flight 1 — Madrid (MAD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Flight 2 —  Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Flight 3 — Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA)

Here’s how these appear on the map:

GCMap Excursionist 4
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

Let’s say you started in Europe and took a business-class flight from Madrid (MAD) to Frankfurt (FRA):

United MAD FRA
Image Credit: United Airlines

Your second leg — the one using the Excursionist Perk — can then be in the U.S., including United’s Premium transcontinental routes. For this example, we’ve booked Polaris from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX):

United EWR LAX
Image Credit: United Airlines

Just remember that your final leg has to be in Europe somewhere — in this example, we’ve booked an economy flight from Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA). There is such a thing as throwaway ticketing, which is the practice of booking a leg of a flight that you don’t intend to use, but this is a risky maneuver and not one we support.

United CDG FRA 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

Here’s the total cost for all your flights, including that leg in Polaris from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX):

United Multi City 3
Image Credit: United Airlines

The award cost of that single transcontinental flight from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) is 35,000 miles:

United EWR LAX 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

And the cash cost is $639:

United EWR LAX Google Flights
Image Credit: Google Flights

Of course, these numbers don’t take into account the cost of those 2 other European flights, which add even more value to your redemption.

FlightCost in Miles:
MAD-FRA
Cost in Miles:
EWR-LAX
Cost in Miles:
CDG-FRA
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk27,50005,50033,000
Without Excursionist Perk27,50035,0005,50068,000

Final Thoughts

The United Excursionist Perk is a powerful tool when you know how to operate it. Although it’s not a secret — plenty of people know about it, after all — its hidden workings allow savvy travelers to extract a ton of value from this benefit. Just be sure to read and reread United’s geographic definitions as well as the rules for the Perk. After that, well, see how far you can go!


The information regarding the Chase Freedom Unlimited® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

How do I use the United Excursionist Perk?

The United Excursionist Perk is available on specific flight itineraries including at least 3 one-way flights. When your search falls within the parameters United sets, the system will automatically enable the Perk for you.

How does the United Excursionist Perk work?

The United Excursionist Perk is a way for United to give its members a free stopover on multi-city tickets. You’ll need to be flying at least 3 flights that fall under United’s rule for Excursionist Perk flights in order to take advantage of this benefit.

How many times can I use the United Excursionist Perk?

There is no limit to the number of times you can use the Excursionist Perk, though you’ll only receive 1 complimentary flight on your multi-city ticket, no matter how many stops you have booked. You’ll need to book additional tickets in order to make use of the Excursionist Perk more than once.

How do you use United Airlines' website to book a free one-way flight using the Excursionist Perk?

In order to search for a flight eligible for the Excursionist Perk, you’ll need to head to United’s website. From there, select Advanced Search and Multi-City. Once you’ve input your dates and destinations, United will automatically display any Excursionist Perk flights.

What are the United Excursionist Perk zones?

There are 17 different zones according to United:

  • Mainland U.S., Alaska & Canada
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Northern South America
  • Southern South America
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Northern Africa
  • Central & Southern Africa
  • North Asia
  • Central Asia
  • South Asia
  • Japan
  • Oceania
  • Australia & New Zealand

Carissa Rawson

About Carissa Rawson

Carissa is a native Californian whose taste for travel began during her seven years in the US Air Force. A former Arabic translator, her first serious journey overseas was to Jordan, where a six month deployment taught her a lot about people and a little about award travel. What started as a curiosity quickly became an obsession, and soon she had launched her own website teaching others how to travel for free.

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