The Stopover – United – $834: San Francisco to Shanghai with Hong Kong and Tokyo multi-day stopovers. Roundtrip, including all Taxes

Apparently, you guys are really interested in seeing how we did the stopovers in Hong Kong and Tokyo with the $736 fare from San Francisco to Shanghai from yesterday’s post about which airlines are best for stopovers by region.

This post will be ITA heavy, so you probably should take some time and read the following posts by us to understand the basics:

Hong Kong - Photo: Markylim via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Hong Kong – Photo: Markylim via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Basic – Shanghai Fare Rule:

Before we get started, let’s have the basic fare rule for the Shanghai fare:

  • Valid for travel on the outbound until December 11th with a 6 day minimum stay. Two stopovers are permitted for $100 each. One per direction, none in Guam.

How to Search:

Here’s what we did to find availability for travel between San Francisco and Shanghai. We used a date range of 5-12 days.


Based on this, we will be using a sample travel date of November 10th – 19th. Per the How to Take Advantage of a Stopover guide, we recommend that you look for stopovers within dates when there’s availability. So here’s what we did:


This ITA construction is through trial and error. Initially, we had it as 4 segments:

  • San Francisco – Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong – Shanghai
  • Shanghai – Tokyo
  • Tokyo – San Francisco

However, when we did that, it was pricing it as a San Francisco to Hong Kong // Shanghai to San Francisco fare plus one-way from Hong Kong to Shanghai. That priced over $1,050, we knew was incorrect as the stopover pricing should’ve been $100 per stopover plus taxes and fees. So instead, we tried it as three segments:

  • San Francisco to Shanghai with a connection in Hong Kong. We forced a connection of at least 3,600 minutes. That’s what the /minconnect 3600 is. The ua hkg before /minconnect 3,600 is telling ITA to look for United flight to Hong Kong then a minimum connection of 3,600 minutes before heading to Shanghai. We figured 60 hours is sufficient for Hong Kong. You can try different values — it just has to be in minutes.
  • Shanghai to Tokyo.
  • Tokyo to San Francisco. We forced a United flight.

Here’s the result:


ITA priced this at $834. As you can see, the fare construction is still San Francisco to Shanghai roundtrip on the Fare 1 and Fare 2 section. So why isn’t this over $934? Sometimes it happens.

How to Price:

So let’s price it. Using tips from How to ticket a quasi-complex ticket, we used Hipmunk and multi-city to see if it would price properly:


Notice we entered it as 4 segments with carrier specified for 3 of the segments. Hipmunk can replicate most ITA codes, but don’t have the option to do a carrier, then connection airport with a minimum connection time. So that’s why we did each segment individually. That’s how we got it to price. Other variation will probably work too.


Hipmunk was able to replicate the exact routing and pricing as ITA. It then re-directed us to to book.


And priced it perfectly. If you went and entered the segments yourself on without going through Hipmunk, it probably would not price it like this. And as an added bonus, we set the actual time in Shanghai to 2 and 1/2 days — or no visa required if you are an American passport holder.


  • Stopovers are trial and error
  • Learn ITA
  • Play around with dates within availability to see if stopovers exist
  • If it does, use Hipmunk to replicate the routing to see if it will price
  • For an extra $100, you will get two more cities in. That’s a win!

This should be a useful set of steps that you can take to build stopovers for tickets originating from other cities. We hope you all found this useful. If you do and there’s enough interest, we will do more of these once a while.


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Background Information:



Hong Kong:

  • Visa: US Citizens – Not required. Other nationals, check the TIMATIC Visa Database
  • Currency: Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). $1USD = 7.8 HKD


  • Visa: US Citizens – Not required. Other nationals, check the TIMATIC Visa Database
  • Currency: Japanese Yen (JYP) $1USD = 108.66 JPY


Tips for saving when using credit cards at international destinations:

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Comments (16)

  • Tabitha Bethelmy 9 years ago Reply

    This is extremely helpful!! I’m totally into travel hacking and appreciate information like this. Please do more of these. Something to look forward to;)

  • R 9 years ago Reply

    Yes, very helpful!

  • Michael Wu 9 years ago Reply

    Wow. This boggles my mind. Amazing!

  • Rings 9 years ago Reply

    Loved it! I believe that once peeps see just how great a tool ITA can, they will take the time to learn more than the basics. Showing the step by steps, such as in this post, will open eyes. Thanks and keep them coming.

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago Reply

    @Rings – indeed. taking an hour or two to learn it = tons of downstream saving potentials.

  • Daniel 9 years ago Reply

    I wonder if this works for LAX in December

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago Reply

    @Daniel – there is an $820ish United LAX – Shanghai fare for travel until mid-December. You can play around with it and see if it works. Every fare is different. Read our ITA, fare rules and how to take advantage of a stopover guide to see if it works.

  • Brandon 9 years ago Reply

    On any given itinerary, how do you know which cities the stopovers are allowed? It would be hard for most people to see a SFO to Shanghai round trip flight deal on United, and be able to guess which cities would be allowed for stopovers.

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago Reply

    @Brandon — the easiest way is via a paid subscription to ExpertFlyer ( for about $100 a year. That would provide you legal routings for each fare (and thus you can see what the potential stopovers are). Otherwise, its trial and error. But if you don’t want to pay, here’s how you can make it less challenging:

    1) Figure out where the carrier operated for the most significant segment (in this case US – Asia). We use for that. Just go to each of the carrier’s hubs. For United for example, out of San Francisco, they fly to Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo nonstop and Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City via Hong Kong, also Singapore and Taipei via Tokyo.
    2) Based on that, let says the fare is to Singapore, the routing possibilities will probably be SFO – Hong Kong – Singapore – Tokyo – SFO. But it is also possible they could be SFO – Seoul – Singapore – Hong Kong – SFO or San Francisco to Taipei to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh to Hong Kong to San Francisco. A lot of trial and error.

    Hope that helps.

  • Brandon 9 years ago Reply

    Another question: how easy is it to get an expedited visa, and how long would that take?

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago Reply

    @Brandon – expedited visa for what country? If its for China at least in NY, at the moment its 2 days. We have no experience with China’s consulates in other cities.

  • Daniel 9 years ago Reply

    Is $1,269 a deal if I were to travel LAX > HKG > PEK > PEK > NRT > LAX?

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago Reply

    @Daniel – with stopovers or without? and with what carrier?

    Daniel 9 years ago

    The price for $1,249 is with the stopovers.
    I chose UA for the carrier.

    The Flight Deal 9 years ago

    @Daniel – the UA fare we see for LAX – PEK is $842 for travel this year. with stopovers, it should be no more than ~1,100 at most ($200 for the two stopovers + taxes and fees). it is ~1,000 for next year, so 1,200 sounds about right. would wait for a sale if its travel next year, theres always sales to China.

    Daniel 9 years ago

    Thank you for your help!

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