Mileage Run? $308 RT to Hong Kong AND China on United

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There are some hot open-jaw airfares available from Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to both Hong Kong and Shanghai or Beijing and back to North America. Secret Flying is reporting prices from $333, but I have found some of the dates start from just $308 – and these can be booked through You can also upgrade the transpacific legs to economy plus for a reasonable upcharge. The catch is that the return leg ends in either Toronto or Montreal. However, if you can travel with just a carry-on, you may be in luck as the return flights can stop in either San Francisco or Chicago (or both) on the way home.

Additionally, the G-glass United fares earn 100% mileage flown with Singapore KrisFlyer. Depending on your routing, you could earn almost enough miles for an economy-class one-way to Hawaii with one of these cheap tickets. That’s a lot of flying for a little over three hundred bucks. More on that below.

Sample dates are available from Secret Flying. The samples below show stops in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Different sets of dates also produce similar pricing through Beijing instead of Shanghai. There are also additional Canadian return cities. Click the images below to go to Google Flights.


San Francisco-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Montreal $308

Again, if you can travel with just a carry-on, you could conveniently miss your leg from San Francisco to Washington.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to skip your last legs but don’t want to end up on the East Coast either, you could fly the return to Vancouver (also through SFO) for $327.

San Francisco-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Vancouver $327


It’s a great deal from Chicago as well, with prices starting at $333. Here is another set of example dates taken from Secret Flying.

Chicago-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Montreal $333

Here is an example of one set of flights for that price (there are multiple options at the $333 price point):

Again, if you happened to miss that last leg, you’d be back where you started :-).

Economy Plus

The transpacific flights can be upgraded to Economy Plus reasonably. During checkout, you can choose seats in Economy Plus from $135 on the way out and $197 on the way back on the flights that I checked. That said, they aren’t really selling it….the picture looks an awful lot like just “economy” to me.

Mileage Run?

According to ITA Matrix, the legs on United are in G-class. For $333 out of Chicago, you could fly the following routing and pick up a lot of miles.

Now you wouldn’t quite earn that many as I do not believe you can credit the HKG-PVG flight (on Hong Kong airlines) to Singapore. Still, you would earn about 17,000 miles if credited to Singapore Krisflyer. Singapore charges 17,500 miles one-way from the East Coast to Hawaii in United Economy saver. Is it a mileage run in the sense that you would do it more than once? Probably not. You’ve also got the added expense of getting home from Montreal in that example. So it’s far from the ideal mileage run, but still a very nice return considering the cheap outlay on this one. If you’re really just looking to maximize your mileage earning, also check other Canadian cities. I saw that Halifax was available for a bit more. If you check the map, you may find something that stretches this a bit further.

Bottom line

This is a terrific fare. With the open-jaw return, it’s a bit complex — but even if you fly back to Toronto or Montreal, award tickets to Chicago from there are pretty readily available at the saver level. There is a convenient list of dates available for this trip at Secret Flying. You can book directly through United, which would give you 24 hours to change or cancel, or your favorite OTA. I’d recommend booking this one on a flight with good delay protection in case something goes awry en route.

H/T: Secret Flying

Last updated on June 22nd, 2017

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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I’m rather new to miles and points, but I would think a mileage run that lasts nine days would mean a whole lot of work missed. I guess my mileage runs would last just the weekend…if you can find those.


Or you could just buy 17,500 miles for $437.50 and save yourself this torture in UA economy for a near work week in flying hours.


Amen. UA coach for anything over an hour is brutal. These runs seem best(least worst?) for qualifying credit rather than actual FF miles. Either way, that’s a long haul on United.


I hear ya, Mark, but Shanghai, HK, Vancouver are pretty awesome cities to visit 🙂


Agreed, but the point of the article, at least my interpretation, was a mileage run, not a vacation. Maybe splitting hairs but if my objective was to get 17,500 points I’d buy them over this. If I wanted to see the world yes this is a great deal.


Yep, I see where you’re coming from. But at least in my personal experience, the line between mileage run and mini-vacation can get kinda blurry 🙂


Any luck from Dulles? or Returning to Dulles?


Ironic you found this via Secret Flying and gave them credit when they stole this deal from a FlyerTalk thread and did not provide credit.

You can hidden city LAX or SFO on the way back to save on a re-positioning flight.