How to get a flight for zero points or miles

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🤓 Trivia Tuesday: Can you name the Hindu festival that is dedicated to worshipping and honoring cows? Keep reading to find out.

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🤓 Trivia Tuesday: Can you name the Hindu festival that is dedicated to worshipping and honoring cows? Keep reading to find out.

Good morning and welcome to Daily Drop, the only key to a happy, healthy life.

I’m going to blow your mind a little bit today, so let’s cut the crap and get to it:

  • ✈️ How to get a flight for 0 points on any continent

  • 💸 Quick hit travel deals

  • 🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

✈️ How to get a flight for 0 points on any continent

What if I told you that there was a way for ANYONE to get a free flight on any continent simply by manipulating some surprisingly flexible policies of one of the most popular airlines in the U.S.?

As you might be expecting, such a thing is entirely possible. And It’s actually quite easy to do… 😏

I’m talking about the United Excursionist perk.

Here is the very short summary of this perk:

When you book an itinerary of at least three segments using United miles, you can get the middle segment for zero miles - as long as you follow a few loose rules.

Here are the basic rules of this perk (though you can read the full terms here):

  1. Your itinerary must start and end in the same “region” (but does not have to be the same airport/city)

  2. The middle segment must be WITHIN the same region, which cannot be the same region you started in

  3. You must book your flight with United miles - NOT cash

  4. The “free” middle leg is in the same class of service as the first segment (i.e., economy, business, etc.)

Okay… now that we’ve covered the fine print, let me explain this in a much easier way - by using some examples.

Here is how this perk is intended to be used…

Let’s say you fly this itinerary (Chicago-London-Madrid-Chicago):

Let’s compare this scenario to the rules I mentioned above to see if the Excursionist Perk would apply:

  • ✅ Start/end in the same region (North America)

  • ✅ The middle segment is within a single other region (Europe)

  • ✅ Booked with miles instead of cash

Looks like we nailed it. So let’s run an actual search on United to see if it adds up the right way.

First, log into your United MileagePlus account and navigate to the advanced search page, which looks like this.

Make sure you select “miles” and “multi-city”

Next, let’s make sure we select a search with miles (not cash) and input all of the correct segments shown above.

Sure enough, when we get to selecting the second segment, we see something that looks like this:


In all, we’re saving 16,500 miles thanks to this unique perk.

But that’s not the exciting park…

As I mentioned earlier, this is how the perk is INTENDED to be used… 😏 But this is Daily Drop. Obviously, we’re going to stretch this bad boy to the limit.

So here’s how I’M using this perk…

In January, I’m eyeing a pretty ambitious trip that looks like this:

Looks like a Mike-esque trip if I’ve ever seen one

Most of this trip is easy. Child’s play, really. But the hard part is that chunk of travel in Africa…

You see, Africa is expensive to fly around, even when using points and miles.

But thanks to the United Excursionist Perk, I can get my expensive inter-African segment for ZERO miles.

I’m booking the following two segments of the trip with United miles:

  • Zurich to Milan: 6,000 miles

  • Kigali (Rwanda) to Bamako (Mali) to Dakar (Senegal): 20,000 miles

So theoretically, if I booked another segment in Europe using United miles, that middle segment WITHIN Africa would be free.

Unfortunately, I’m flying straight back to North America from Africa, so I don’t have a way to fly that necessary third segment in Europe that I need.

So here’s what I booked with United miles:

The segment from Zurich to Milan is part of my trip that I showed you earlier.

But that short segment from Brussels to Frankfurt? Totally random. It’s not a flight I intend to take.

But by booking it for just 5,500 miles, I’ll save 20,000 miles on that African flight since it triggers the Excursionist Perk.

Look, here’s proof of the final booking:

That’s right folks. ALL THREE of these flights combined only cost 11,450 miles.

Your first reaction might be that I’m wasting 5,450 miles. But I see it as SAVING 14,550 miles (the cost of the segment I need minus the cost of the dummy segment to Frankfurt) and getting a free flight within Africa that could otherwise cost me well over a thousand dollars.

If you open up your imagination a little, you might realize just how far you can stretch this perk… there are some long, expensive itineraries that you can book for zero miles.

But before you run off into the travel hacking sunset, here are a couple of other notes:

  • Earlier, I mentioned that I don’t plan to take the final segment of the trip. Rather, I used it as a way to trigger the perk. This ONLY works if you ditch the last flight. If you miss the first flight, the itinerary will be canceled, and you will not be allowed to board the middle flight.

  • You do still need to pay the taxes and fees for the zero-mile flight. In my case, this amounted to $64 total, but other itineraries with higher taxes might make this perk slightly less desirable.

  • The “regions” as dictated by United are generally broken down by continent, but check out this page for which specific countries belong to a given region.

Of course, the only way to use this perk is to have a balance of United miles in the first place…

Thankfully, you can easily rack up some miles by transferring points from a credit card like this one.

These are the hacks that get me out of bed in the morning… I love things like this.

There’s a certain level of effort that one needs to put in to take advantage of it - but if you do, you can come out WAY ahead - and have some fun in the process. 😉

Okay, onto the less exciting stuff now…

💸 Quick hit travel deals

Tis the season for epic travel deals… Since we don’t have time to give you the rundown on all of them, I’m going to list a few decent ones that might apply to some of you but don’t need much explanation…

Here ya go. They’re all hotels. I’m so sorry:

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

Correct answer: Gopastami Festival

Gopastami is observed on the eighth day of the Kartik month in the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in October or November of the Gregorian calendar.

The word "Go" in Sanskrit means cow, and "Ashtami" refers to the eighth day.

Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and Gopastami is a day when people express their gratitude towards these animals.

It’s also super significant for farmers and those involved in dairy-related activities, as cows are seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity in many rural communities.

On Gopastami, people perform rituals and offer prayers to cows. They may decorate the cows with garlands, apply tilak (a mark on the forehead), and feed them special food.

They believe that by honoring and taking care of cows, they seek blessings for the well-being of their families, agricultural activities, and the community as a whole.

Read more about the history of Gopastami here.

Did you know that Daily Drop has a YouTube channel? Check out our latest video for some visual travel hacking tips.

This week’s video breaks down the PERFECT credit card “trifecta” to help maximize your travel for a combined annual fee of less than $100. Yeah, it’s pretty sweet… 👇

Phew… that was a doozy. I love the United Excursionist Perk, and I hope that you fine folk can take advantage of it sometime. But I’m curious to know…

Had you ever heard of the Excursionist Perk before today?

Only Email Recipients can participate in polls.

I love you all dearly, and I can’t wait to see you again bright and early tomorrow. Take care, friends ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W

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