Gadling’s guide to mileage running — maximizing miles and segments

Now that you’ve got a fare or a city-pair picked out, you need to book your ticket. Another tip is that ticketing rules often dictate that you can add extra segments (stopovers) to your itinerary. For example, if I have a flight from DTW-LAX, I might read the fine print and see that I can book up to two stopovers for that fare. So I can price out a DTW-MEM-MSP-LAX flight for the same price as the nonstop, except I earn extra miles from flying north-south so much more.

Often, you can find your fare rules by booking your ticket halfway through, pricing it out and either reading the fine print or clicking the rules link. If you can’t get the airlines’ search engines to automatically book those stopovers, try using the multi-city search to force it to keep those segments in place.

Additionally, you can always use ITAsoftware to investigate optimal fare routings and rules. While the software doesn’t have the capability to purchase tickets, it’s a great resource to learn about all of the ridiculous possibilities for your routings. I will warn you right now though that the software is pretty complex. You need to be (you guessed it) patient and diligent to find the best bookable routing.

Usually, crazy routings are only really bookable from non-hub cities. Airlines take precautions to make sure that those in hub-markets can’t screw with the system too much and book crazy itineraries. But if you’re in a non-hub city and have a little bit of creative mojo, it’s frequently possible to find multi-leg itineraries around the continent all completable in a single day.

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