In my opinion, the United Excursionist Perk is one of the best aspects of United’s MileagePlus program. What is the Excursionist Perk? When you book an award trip using United miles, and your travel begins and ends in the same region, you can get a free one-way within a single region of the world that isn’t your region of origin.
The intent of this feature is to allow you to visit multiple cities on one round-trip award. For example, you could book an award that takes you from the US to Paris for the outbound segment, then add a free segment (the Excursionist Perk) to get you from Paris to Venice, then return home from Venice. The award price, then, is the same as a simple round-trip from the US to Europe.
Still confused? Please read Nick’s detailed guide: Leveraging the United Excursionist Perk to save miles.
Even though the intent of the Excursionist Perk is fairly simple, there is so much more that you can do with it. Again, checkout Nick’s post for detailed tips and tricks.
While researching my options for the 40K to Far Away Challenge, I initially used this United Airlines web page to find out which countries were in each region as defined by United Airlines. The problem with that page is that it’s entirely textual. It’s very hard to figure out the full extent of each region or where regions come closest to intersecting.
So, I put that page’s data into Google Maps.
I used a different Google Maps layer for each region so that you can easily select which region’s you want to see. Unfortunately, there was a downside to this approach: Google Maps only allows 10 layers and United defines 17 different regions. So, I created two maps and stuffed each one with as many regions as I could.
If you’d like to expand the maps, click the little squarish thing in the top right corner:
[…] think he is airborne — likely taking the first of his two excursionist perk flights thanks to everything he learned previously. From a Facebook story it posted, it looks like he’s on Ethiopian Airlines, which means his […]
[…] We created maps so that we can easily visualize United zones for excursionist perks. […]
[…] said, Greg has shown just how incredibly valuable United miles can be when leveraged properly (See: United Excursionist Perk Maps. Visualize regions to optimize awards.). If Greg had 100K miles to use in the #40Faraway challenge, Stephen and I might be in […]
For this perk could you fly to Chicago to London… take a train to Paris, then use perk to fly to Rome and then fly back to Chicago?
Yes, definitely. That’s the traditional use that it’s designed for. But it’s not a great value that way — flights within Europe are usually dirt cheap. If you’re booking a round trip, you might as well get something for free I suppose — but if you intend to travel to another region within the next year, you might be able to book game it a bit to get better value on a segment in another part of the world. Gets a little complex / depends on your travel plans. But what you want to do is certainly and easily possible.
Take one of the Wakkanai ferries? I don’t think they’ll let you on the Sakhalin one without a visa, but I’ve been to Rishiri/Rebun, it was dope
As a side note I paid like $8/night there in 2015 at the ANA, stayed for about 2 weeks, earned like 70 or 80k points from a promo.
I live in Japan and would love to know more about this trip. Would you mind sharing? How did you get the ANA for so cheap? I am in Tohoku and would like to travel in Hokkaido next summer. Thanks a lot in advance.
It was a mistake price that used to come up often. this was in 2015.
Great suggestion, thanks!
Can you fly different Star Alliance partner airlines, like ANA to Singapore via Japan as one leg, then Singapore to somewhere else on SQ, then somewhere else in the region back to the US on SQ with a change of planes in SIN?
My tip: get a flight from Frankfurt to Vladivostok/Magadan/Petropavlovsk as an excursionist perk. Though, it’s gonna be pretty hard to do on Star Alliance.
I’ve considered something similar but I’m not sure the budget will allow a visa for Russia
Well, I have a few passports which don’t require visa to Russia. Actually 3 of them. I think, you can get visa to Russia for under $200, if needed. I can investigate if you’re interested.
I would be interested if it was cheap enough but anything close to $200 would eat up too much of the $400 budget
If you’re US citizen, then the visa cost is $160 (they charge reciprocity fee), if you have any other citizenship, then the visa will be cheaper, or not needed at all. Here is a list of countries which doesn’t require visa to Russia: