When using points to travel, it is important to know what exactly each award ticket is entitled to. Yesterday I mentioned that Alaska Airlines allows one stopover in each direction of an award ticket. Naturally that means the best use of my miles for my trip to Dubai would be to return from South Africa, stopover in Dubai and continue to LAX after visiting Dubai. Routing this way would allow me to return 45,000 miles back into my American Airlines bank of miles, but I'd miss out on Qatar airways and their brand new first class lounge.
In order to make the most of those miles spent, utilizing policies that allow not only stop over's but also open jaws are a great idea. What are stopovers though and what is the difference with an open jaw?
Stopover's are pretty straight forward and are exactly what they sound like. Stop overs are a stop at an intermediate destination, usually for longer than a standard layover is. In this case lets take my example of Dubai for a stopover. On my return from South Africa, I was attempting to utilize the stop over policy of Alaska Airlines. This means my itinerary is South Africa to Los Angeles, with a stopover in Dubai added into the mix. So I fly to Dubai from South Africa, stop for a few days in Dubai, then continue on my way to LAX. That is a stop over.
So what is an open jaw? This is very similar to a stopover with one key difference, when you stop at a city, you leave from a different airport. Once again, lets take my trip from South Africa as an example. This wouldn't really work in real life with the way I planned my trip, but we'll look at this as a hypothetical. An open jaw would be if I took a flight from South Africa to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is fairly close to Dubai, so at some point I transit to Dubai for a period of time and then leave from Dubai to LAX. This would all be done on a single ticket under open jaw rules.
Different airlines have different rules on if this is even allowed, how many can be put together and some allow both types on a single one way trip. If you fully utilize these benefits of an award ticket, you could get multiple stops into a single award ticket. That even makes an around the world trip possible with a number of stops along the way, but done on only 2 tickets if you plan it properly.
Crazy to think that this is a ticket that might cost a lot of money, a whole lot, or many many miles if booked as an around the world ticket. Take advantage of these rules and allowances and it becomes a reasonable price. So find those little perks and make use of them for some amazing trips.