United Excursionist Perk Pricing Incorrectly, Fix on the Way
Update 9/29/18: United's Excursionist Perk bug has been corrected:
Back in the day (i.e., before late-2016), United offered one free stopover and two open-jaws on round-trip award tickets.
As part of an October 2016 MileagePlus devaluation, the airline replaced the free stopover option with its new "Excursionist Perk," offering a complimentary stopover or open-jaw segment within the destination region. (For more on making the most of this benefit, see How to Travel More for Fewer Miles With the United Excursionist Perk.)
When the perk works as intended, the middle segment in the scenario below, from Paris (CDG) to Munich (MUC), would price out for 0 miles (plus taxes and fees), assuming it's booked in the same (or lesser) class of service as the first segment, from Newark (EWR) to London (LHR).
As several TPG readers have shared this week, eligible stopovers and open-jaw segments are pricing at the regular amount — in this case, 8,000 miles, since it's a short economy segment within Europe.
At first, I thought the itinerary pricing would adjust upon checkout. However that's not the case — you are in fact being charged for the Excursionist Perk segment as well.
The good news is that we've made United aware, and the airline has confirmed that a fix is in the works, and should be implemented later this week.
If you can, I'd suggest waiting until next week to book, though the risk there is that award inventory can quickly change. If you need to book an eligible itinerary now, you may have success by calling United reservations at 1-800-864-8331, however a supervisor or support desk will likely need to price the award manually, which will take considerable time. If you do call, be sure to request that the phone booking fee be waived, due to the issue you'll encounter when booking online.
Meanwhile, if you've made a booking within the past week, be sure to check your receipt to confirm that you were charged the correct rate — if not, give the MileagePlus Service Center a call at 1-800-421-4655 and request a refund for the difference in miles. Future bookings should not be affected, since the airline expects to have this cleared up very soon.