Continuing our series on Round-the-World (RTW) travel with Jenny McIver, we pick up on Part 2 with airline alliances and what they offer in relation to RTW tickets.
Prices depend on a variety of factors and rules change frequently so check the latest information on each alliance’s website before you begin the booking process. Here’s the breakdown on each alliance’s RTW ticket product:
It’s been called the world’s best alliance and if you’re solely interested in the most flight options and best selection of airlines, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Star Alliance. Here are the details on Star’s most popular RTW ticket:
Standard Round the World Fare:
- Available in three fare tiers based on the number of miles traveled:
29,000 – 34,000 – 39,000
- Stopovers: Minimum of 3, maximum of 15
When booking, strive to maximize your miles as close as possible to the next fare threshold. There is a substantial fare jump between an itinerary that covers 28,999 miles and one that covers 29,001 miles. If your ideal itinerary comes in at just a hair over a mileage tier, it makes sense to rethink it. You can price and book your RTW itinerary entirely online using the Star Alliance Book and Fly Tool, including applying system-wide upgrades to a coach ticket to upgrade the longest segments.
Skyteam Go Round the World Ticket:
- Stopovers: Minimum 3, maximum 15
- Four price tiers based on the number of miles traveled (includes surface sectors):
26,000 – 29,000 – 33,000 – 38,000
Again, the best strategy here is to optimize your route to keep the mileage level just below the lower tiers of 26,000 or 29,000 miles to yield the best possible ticket value. Currently, Skyteam RTW tickets cannot be booked online.
oneworld offers two RTW ticket choices. The Global Explorer is mileage-based and similar to the RTW products offered by Star and Skyteam but the oneworld Explorer is unique in that it is continent-based.
- Minimum of three oneworld continents (defined as: North America, South America, Australia/NZ, Europe/Middle East, Africa and Asia)
- Choose up to four segments (max of 16 total) within each continent
- Allows two stopovers in continent of origin
- Up to two additional segments can be added per continent at a fixed price
Because there is no mileage limitation on the oneworld Explorer ticket, it allows the unique opportunity to maximize frequent flier miles for those creative enough to work the system. Oneworld also has an online booking tool that allows you to price and book basic RTW tickets online.
A Few Final Thoughts…
If you can’t book online, before you call an alliance RTW desk, do your homework. Search the alliance’s website for the exact flights you want, including back-up options. Utilizing ExpertFlyer to confirm availability in the right fare class can be a real time-saver here.
While booking with an airline alliance is cheaper than booking flights individually, it’s often more expensive than booking with a RTW ticket specialist. So before you book that RTW ticket, check fares with both Airtreks and BootsnAll to make sure all those miles are worth the difference in cost.
In part 3, we’ll discuss how to use your miles to book a RTW ticket!