Airline Stopover and Open Jaw Rules or – How To Get Extra Trips!


Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

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Map above depicts a trip from Boston to Paris, then London to Boston. The open jaw is at the destination between Paris and London. Normally this costs extra money – but on many award tickets, this can be done for free! It nicely keeps one from having to travel in a circle as well.  This is something I posted in the how to get 1.5 trips out of 1 trip on United article.  Different airlines have different rules, and courtesy of travelisfree, I’m reblogging a great infographic explaining what these terms mean as well as what some popular programs offer within their rules.

This is a great chart to explain what these options are and what some of the major programs allow.  It would be even better if it listed more airlines, although there is a lot more complexity built it what may be allowed as noted in this post including Korean Air’s rules.  Most of the above only apply to international tickets, although Alaska does allow for domestic stops.

I am currently on a (7 month) stopover in ORD on United; as we can see above, United allows 2 open jaws and 1 stop.  My buddy and I went to SouthEast Asia (SEA) earlier this year, and hung out via an open jaw.  ORD-CDG-BKK-KUL open jaw BKK-BRU-ORD.  We had to make our way from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok to get home, at which point we are now both on stopovers that can last up to a year; I believe a year from our first ORD-CDG flight.  I got my buddy a one way (the second open jaw) to SNA out in Orange County and it was just a few bucks more in airport fees.  He is in economy.  The last open jaw inherits the prior class of service; I’m using mine to go to Buenos Aires via Panama City in business class on Copa Airlines.  It cost me an additional 10k United points and $25 in taxes and fees to take on this much longer international premium class open jaw.  So I went to SEA, came back home to work, and am continuing on to South America.  Using another award ticket to get back, an AA one way on TAM.


Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

I have an article here on my US Airways award booked with a stopover – my destination is Johannesburg, South Africa with a stop on the return in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Unfortunately American Airlines recently dumped all the cool things their rules used to allow you to do – in the merger hopefully some of the good stuff from US Airways survives.  Else it will be worth the time and value seeking out offerings in international airlines that act as transfer partners for all of the US based flexible bank points programs.  This post was drafted earlier but not yet posted – another good post and resource on various airlines and rules is now available from The Points Guy site here.

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3 thoughts on “Airline Stopover and Open Jaw Rules or – How To Get Extra Trips!

  1. James Dozer

    Stopovers are definitely the way to go! I never book an award trip nowadays without taking advantage of a stopover. That also explains whey I have a large cache of American Airlines miles that I haven’t redeemed yet. Lol.

    1. mike Post author

      unfortunately the gateway as well as the oneworld explorer were both pulled before i used any AA miles either. and they are my main airline as well; with that, credit card programs and other bonuses they’ve offered my stockpile of AA miles is pretty huge. my original trip to JNB was no stop 150k; i canceled it and booked with us airways to go to JNB – as well as AUH (stop at the race track) and for 120k.

      everyone else has stops/jaws… here’s to hoping the merger brings at least something back to AA.

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