United Micronesia Island Hopper With Stopovers

We continue United award stopover week with the classic (Continental) Micronesia Island Hopper.

The classic route is an every other day flight Honolulu-Majuro-Kwajalein-Kosrae-Pohnpei-Chuuk (Truk)-Guam. There are extensions from Guam to Palau, Yap, Saipan and Rota. Regional connections from Guam include several Japanese cities, Manila, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Booking a trip from Continental US to Microneisa with a stopover should work with the new rules after October 6. Some of the more elaborate routings in the region will likely not be possible. See takes from MileValue and The Points Guy for ideas.

You can stop at each island for two days to catch the next flight or stay longer. If you try to book Kwajalein you will get errors and need to call in with your military clearance. I have heard there are theoretical ways to get military clearance to fly to Kwajalein and stay with locals on one of the outer islands, which will be an effort in persistence. Following Benji’s comments I ran test bookings again since I had not in some time. I was able to issue round-trip and one-way awards. The one-way award showed an error screen but issued anyway. You can stay on Ebeye and the base island has some public areas, however you are not getting on the base proper unless you know how to operate ICBMs and they want you there.

Here’s a basic example I booked last year (canceled after the military scrubbed the Wake Island commemoration):

united-microneisa-island-hopper

The planes are generally old and dumpy, especially on the hopper. It is hard to justify a premium for business class. The international and nonstop Honolulu routes can have better planes. Cash tickets on these routes are almost always pricey, especially Continental US to the islands, so awards are attractive.

My quick take on these islands:

  • Majuro – narrow atoll living
  • Kwajalein – need military clearance for the main base, you can stay on Ebeye where there is some diving
  • Kosrae – small, nature-focused
  • Pohnpei – Nan Modal ruins and manta ray diving
  • Chuuk – WWII wreck diving
  • Guam – hub of Micronesia, even a Macy’s and Kmart
  • Rota – small
  • Tinain (need a local flight) – drive the ruins of North Field, launch base of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan
  • Saipan – so-so resorts and so-so WWII ruins
  • Yap – traditional culture
  • Palau – snorkeling jellyfish lake, diving the Rock Islands, WWII sites of Peleliu, mangrove kayaking and more

Palau is the all-around one I recommend if you go to no other. After that choose among Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap based on interest.

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  • Benji

    You can book KWA no problem. If you don’t have clearance once you land they will push you through the base and you will stay in Ebeye, Marshall Islands until you have a flight out, then you will be allowed through the base again on the way to the flight.

  • @Benji – interesting, the test bookings I did sometime in the past caused an error but maybe I only searched one-way or roundtrip instead of a stopover. Sounds like you have done it, any accommodation active on Ebeye? How does it compare to Majuro?

  • @Benji – ran new tests was able to issue both round-trip and one-way (despite an error screen it still issued).

  • Jacques Cukierkorn

    How many miles were required for that itinerary?

  • @Jacques Cukierkorn – Continental US – Micronesia roundtrip economy is 70 miles, first stopover is no extra miles, additional should add 12,500 each.

  • TCCQuest

    Just successfully booked! Very excited. Thank you for the nudge I needed. I’ve been wanting to do the AirMike route since I read about it on MileValue a few years back. While I think my stopover would have been covered by the “excursionist benefit”, I didn’t want to take any chances.

    United’s site fought me on booking and I dreaded being on the phone with them. After several tries to book late last night, after confirming availability, I began keeping a log this morning.

    An example of “brute force”.

    Trying to book (XXX)Home-PNI(Pohnpei)-ROR(Pulau)-(XXX)Home; via the Pacific Island Hopper on outbound.

    LAX-HNL-PNI-ROR-XXX [Worked, proves pricing and legit routing from North America]
    XXX-IAD-HNL-PNI-GUM-ROR-XXX [error]
    XXX-IAD-HNL-PNI-ROR-XXX [error]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-NRT-IAD-XXX [error]
    IAD-HNL-PNI-ROR-NRT-IAD-XXX [error]
    XXX-IAD-HNL [works]
    XXX-HNL-PNI [works]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR [works]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM [works]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM-NRT [error]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM-XXX [error]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM-IAD [error]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM-HNL [error]
    XXX-HNL-PNI-ROR-GUM-NRT-XXX [SUCCESS!]