As you probably know, stopovers and open-jaws can add incredible value to airline miles when booking awards. The thing is that these stopover and open-jaw rules are not consistent across all airlines. In fact, some airlines have MUCH more generous stopover and open-jaw rules than others.
So now you're probably thinking ‘ I want to earn miles for THAT airline.’
This list of stopover and open-jaw rules is a guide to simplify the rules across major airlines. This can help you narrow down which miles are the best to earn, and possibly the most valuable depending on the type of trips you want to take.
I love using stopovers and open-jaws because it allows me to visit additional destinations for no extra cost. With open-jaws I also get to add in another destination and be able travel with a different means--via train, car, or bus. Using stopovers and open-jaws can simply be one of the easiest ways to get the most value from your airline miles.
First lets go over stopovers and open-jaws.
What's a Stopover?
A stopover is a stop in a city "to" or "from" a specific destination for more than 24 hours. In general, a stopover city is enroute to your destination, but this doesn’t always have to be the case with more creative routings.
When using miles, the stopover city must be legal within the award fare rules and must be deemed legal routing in order to get the ticket issued. These rules vary greatly across airlines, and some offer much more generous and loose rules for what they consider acceptable routing.
A stopover can be as long as you want and essentially allows you to visit an additional destination. However, it’s common for airlines to limit an award ticket to travel within one year.
What is a Connection?
A connection or transfer is when you arrive at an airport and depart from the same airport on the next scheduled flight, or within a few hours of arriving (generally less than 24 hours).
In general, on domestic or trans-border awards, any stop within 4 hours is considered a connection. On international award travel, a stop less than 24 hours is considered a connection. Some airlines still consider it a connection if there are no connecting flights within 4 or 24 hours respectively, but you must be booked on the next scheduled flight.
How is a Stopover Different from a Connection?
On an international award, a stopover is a stop in a city for more than 24 hours and a connection is less than 24 hours. For domestic awards a stopover is considered any stop that lasts over 4 hours. Generally, stopovers are used to visit and spend time in an additional city on one award.
A connection is when you arrive at an airport and depart on the next scheduled flight, usually within a few hours of arriving.
What's an Open-jaw?
An open-jaw is when you arrive in one city and depart from another city. The travel between the two cities is not included in the itinerary, and can be completed by bus, train, boat, or flights. Open-jaws add flexibility and allow you to visit an additional destination on an award ticket. An example of this would be to flying to Rome, travel by train to Paris, and then fly home from Paris.
Quick notes about the table:
- Stopover rules vary from airline to airline, and some are not clearly published. I had to call into many airlines and often received not so clear definitions of the stopover and open-jaw rules.
- In general, stopovers are allowed on round trip award tickets. If there are exceptions they are noted in the table (including additional rules).
- Many airlines do not allow stopovers on domestic award travel and many of airlines' rules are unclear, but if a domestic stopover is possible I listed it.
- For awards that are priced out based on region or zone, you have to visit two different zones to have a stopover and you cannot have an open-jaw across zones.
- For airlines that price awards based on distance, more stopovers are usually allowed, but may also increase the cost of the award ticket.
- Some information was unattainable when creating the chart and therefore left blank. If you know or have experience with the stopover rules for a specific airline, please leave a comment below. That also goes for any errors that you may catch in the chart as well, it’s appreciated if you mention them!
Comparison Table of Airline's Stopover & Open-jaw Rules
|Airline||Stopover & Open-jaw Rules||Domestic Stopovers||International Stopovers||Open-Jaws||Stopovers AND Open-jaws on Roundtrips||Stopovers on One-ways||Notes|
|Aeroplan/Air Canada||1 stopover and 1 open-jaw or 2 stopovers per roundtrip award||NO||YES||YES||YES||YES||For domestic and trans-border itineraries: the distance you travel on your own must be less than the shortest flown portion of your trip. For international itineraries, the two cities making up the portion of your trip with no air travel must be in the same "travel zone". Please see the international itineraries information below for more details.|
|Alaska||2 stopovers and 2 open-jaw per roundtrip award (stopovers allowed on one-way awards)||YES||YES||YES||NO||You are only allowed to fly on one partner airline in addition to Alaska Airlines per award. Book 2 one-way awards to fly on different partners on a roundtrip award.|
|Alitalia||1 stopover per roundtrip award||YES||YES||NO||Oe-way awards are not allowed. You’re allowed 1 stopover en route to your destination, but your stay at the stopover has to be shorter than the stay at your original destination. Open-jaws are allowed, but must be made within the same zone.|
|American Airlines||No stopovers||NO||NO||YES||NA||NA|
|Asia Miles||4 stopovers and 2 open-jaws per roundtrip award||YES||YES||YES||YES||NO||Award tickets are priced out based on the amount of miles flown.|
|Asiana||7 stopovers per roundtrip award||YES||YES||YES||YES||na||Up to 7 stopovers of more than 24 hours are allowed. 2 connections are allowed as long as they're within the maximum distance allowed. Round trips and one-way awards are allowed. Refunds allowed for unused routes.|
|British Airways||Distance based awards||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|Delta||1 stopover and 1 open-jaw per roundtrip award||YES||YES||YES||YES||NA||You are allowed a stopover and an open-jaw (as long as the unflown segment is shorter than the two flown segments).|
|El Al||2 stopovers per roundtrip||NA||YES||YES||YES||NA||Award tickets may be purchased for flights with American Airlines, South African Airlines and Qantas. Award tickets with partner airlines allow only one stopover in each direction (unless stated otherwise by the partner airline).|
|Emirates||1-2 stopovers (see notes) and 1 open-jaw per roundtrip||NA||YES||YES||YES||YES||Saver award - 1 stopover permitted. Flex award - 2 stopovers permitted (1 outbound and 1 inbound). Since one-way awards are Flex awards you can have a stopover on one-ways.|
|Flying Blue||1 stopover and 1 open-jaw||NO||YES||YES||YES||NO|
|GOL Smiles||1 stopover per roundtrip awards||NO||YES||To book stopover on an award you must call the reservation line to book. Stopovers are only allowed within the region of your original destination.|
|Hawaiian Airlines||No stopovers||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|Iceland Air||Stopover allowed in Iceland en route to/from other destinations in Europe||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|JAL||7 stopovers and 1 open-jaw||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Jet Blue||1 open-jaw allowed||YES||Award tickets are priced out separately when stopovers are added, your stopover will be booked as a separate award.|
|Korean Air||Stopovers allowed in ICN on one-way awards (2 on roundtrips)||NA||only in ICN||YES||NA||YES|
|LAN||1 stopover or 1 open-jaw per roundtrip award||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Life miles||no stopovers or open-jaws||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|Lufthansa||2 stopovers and 2 open-jaws per roundtrip||NO||YES||YES||YES||NO||The award has to cover two or more regions and cannot be in the region of your first flight. Primary destination has to be farthest distance from origin.|
|Singapore Airlines||1 stopover||NO||YES (excludes Europe)||YES||YES||YES ($100 fee on Saver Awards, free on all others)||Partner awards are only offered at the Saver Award level. No stopovers within US or Europe are allowed. You can add a stopover on a Saver Award one-way award for $100 and get a 15% mileage discount for booking awards online.|
|Southwest||Value based awards, no stopovers||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|Thai Airways||2 stopovers and 1 open-jaw per roundtrip||NO||YES||YES||YES||YES||On international awards you are allowed 1 stopover en route in each direction. 1 open-jaw en route from return flight within the same country is allowed. Stopovers are not permitted in the country of origin or when traveling within a single country.|
|United||1 stopover and 2 open-jaws per roundtrip||YES||YES||YES||YES||NO|
|US Airways||1 stopover or 1 open-jaw at a US Airways gateway or international destination (or in a partner hub city if flying on a partner airline)||YES||YES (only at partner airline hubs)||YES||NO||NO||Very generous routings, however one-way awards are not allowed..|
|Virgin America||1 stopover and 1 open-jaw per roundtrip||NO||YES||YES||YES||NO||Permitted international stopovers are allowed depending on partner airline rules and you will have to call-in to book the award.|
|Virgin Atlantic||1 open-jaw per roundtrip||see notes||see notes||YES||see notes||see notes||Stopover and open-jaw rules are dependent on what partner airline you fly on. Most VA flights are direct and do not allow stopovers. However, It is possible to have a stopover in Hong Kong on the way to Australia.|
As you can see stopover and open-jaw rules differ greatly across the board, with some airlines allowing many stopovers and others none. On top of these rules you also have to consider fuel surcharges when booking an award with any of these airlines (maybe I'll add that in the next revision).
This definitely took a long time to research all the information and I know there will be some mistakes, so f you find any errors or inconsistencies please let me know and I'll edit them out ASAP. Also, for any missing airline data if you know the rules please leave a comment below!