That’s how we booked our Round The World Ticket
For the first time I’ve heard of a Round The World ticket when I was 14. For me it seemed to be superlative of a Interrail or Eurail ticket and something I really wanted to do. Over the years, I did some multi-city flight trips, and I kept considering the options of the Around the World routes. However, I always ended up booking cheaper with a combination of single flights.
The first challenge: Routing
Our plan to travel around the world then called the Round The World tickets back on the scene. The planning of a trip around the globe for four people turned out to be a challenge already after the first night I spent in front of an online route planner.
After a first research of the topic you feel easily deterred. Especially if you book your own route and do not want to fall back on ready-made routings.
How to plan my route?
For our travel planning, I compared quite some Round the World deals. To be honest, I’ve really guttered into the topic for a good three months and tested all possible variants. Our travel plans were not yet very specific and I had the opportunity to fit our route to the ticket that would give us the best options. So I went into more detail about how the tickets work and how to get the best out of it.
After finally booking our tickets I didn’t not know where to go with all the knowledge I had accumulated about the topic, so I just share my insights with you now and hope it makes someone’s life and travel planning easier.
Airline Alliances or Travel Agencies
In general you can roughly differentiate between two options; Offers of an airline alliance and offers from specialized travel agencies.
With both providers there are ready-made routes to book, but also the possibility to plan an individual route.
The three big alliances , Star Alliance, One World and SkyTeam allow you to check individual plans online on more or less user-friendly portals. You are often subject to restrictions on the maximum number of stops or miles. Of course, you are also bound to the airlines in the alliance you book the Round The World ticket with.
The three major alliances include:
Star Alliance : 28 Lines including Lufthansa, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, … 1300 airports, over 4600 aircraft
One World : 13 lines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Quantas, and more. 1000 Airports, 2800 Airplanes
SkyTeam : 19 Lines, including KLM, Delta, Air France, and many more. 1150 airports over 3600 aircrafts
The online routing-tools compared
As far as the online portals are concerned, Star Alliance has the most stable and best online tool. As the largest alliance, with the best connections and most airlines you have a huge variety of routes. It was the first and only tool we actually came through to an offer for our whole trip. However, the Around The World Ticket from Star Alliance was by far the most expensive.
The SkyTeam tool worked okay, but it froze up again and again once we got over 5 stops. It also didn’t have an option to restore the route later. The proposed connections were a joke. Due to the immense detours we would have already exceeded the maximum of 38k miles after half the way. It just struck me that African and Australian airlines were missing.
The tool on the website of One World was tedious. Sometimes I could actually make coffee while adding a new destination to our itinerary. Mobile, forget it. And on our weaker notebook the program froze regularly. However, it always automatically saved the progress and you could usually continue where it hung up thanks to cookies. In terms of connections and routes One World could keep up with Star Alliance and outperformed Skyteam by a lot.
Flight miles and Costs
Basically, you can choose from different options with each provider. It’s about how freely you can choose from flights, but ultimately only two things are crucial to the price: miles and surcharges, such as airport fees.
All variants have a kind of staggering by miles. If your route has reached a certain number of miles, the base price will be more expensive. In addition there are the variable surcharges for taxes, airport fees, etc.
How milage is counted?
All tools had one thing in common, which ultimately influenced us a lot in the travel planning. The very flat way they count miles.
Because the land transport miles are counted among the miles flown. This means: let’s say you’re flying to Los Angeles, driving from there to New York and then flying from there. In all the tools you would have to specify the route from L.A. to NY as Land Transport. But still the tools count the miles for the distance you drove by car into their total miles. In effect, this means your base price will be more expensive if you specify land routes and fly on from another location than you have arrived.
That’s how we kept our mileage low
For us, this was fundamental, as we had originally planned in Africa, Australia and the US to land in destination A, drive to B and fly from there. So we ended up changing our plans and adapted the routes in these countries to roundtrips. So we would land at destination A, travel around for a certain period of time and then fly on from the same place.
Actually the actual flight miles are counted just as rigorously. Of course, if you have a stopover that is off the beaten track, the scheduling tool will also count those extra miles.
That’s why SkyTeam soon became irrelevant to us. For many destinations, there were only connecting flights, sometimes with absurd distances. To get from Namibia to Asia we had to fly via Amsterdam. That were already 18k taken from 38k possible miles. But even more absurd was that Sydney Auckland was only possible via Taipei.
Find Direct Flights and Avoid Land Transfers The two best ways to save upon alliance round-the-world tickets.The two best ways to save upon alliance round-the-world tickets.
That’s how we kept costs low
So we did two things to keep the cost of the ticket as low as possible.
First, we planned the land routes so that we would fly from where we landed if possible. We reduced from four land transports to two.
Secondly, also out of the bad conscience regarding our ecological footprint, we specifically sought direct connections. So the miles remained low and thus the base price. We also saved a bit on the surcharges (airport fees).
How about the ecological footprint of all those flights
Since we saved some money with the tweaks and perks described here. We also wanted to invested in environmental projects of the areas along our travel route. Honestly it was about easing our conscience and offsetting carbon emissions is definitely not the best practice. And yet we persued a live-long dream with this journey and saw a chance to further minimize the negative impact of travel.
We calculated the carbon-footprint of our trip through carbonpartner. Knowing how much carbon emissions we were responsible for, we then looked at green energy, reforrestation and wildlife projects to support. We found a solar energy project in Namibia through carbonpartner and supported a reforrestation project in Indonesia and a wildlife project in Australia.
The biggest advantages of booking with and Airline Alliance:
- Die Möglichkeit schnell online und live Änderungen in deiner Routenplanung zu checken und individuelle Routen zu vergleichen.
- Vergleichbarkeit und Auswahl der Flüge und Flugdetails
- Die größere Flexibilität bei Änderungen und Umbuchungen.
- Das sauberere Meilen sammeln, da Meilen von Fluglinien innerhalb einer Allianz einander angerechnet werden.
Handicaps of Round the World Tickets of Airline Allinces:
- The higher price
- The various limitations
- The load times of the online tools for longer routes
- Including the miles in the calculation.
Long story, short: Booking with an airline alliance is ideal if you’re flexible in terms of routing, you want to choose flights yourself, want consistent terms, do not want to worry about booking and earn loyalty miles , Well, then you still have to choose which alliance you prefer.Well, then you still have to choose which alliance you prefer.
As far as travel agencies are concerned, many around the world are offering tickets. We had contact with two renowned Round the world agencies. We received solid offers from STA and Airtreks .
Travel agents do what they do best, they put together a trip for you. Airtreks and STA both have a lot of experience and know the tweaks and tricks of flight bookings. Moreover, these agencies are not limited to specific airlines and can compare the best deals for you. Thus, they are usually much cheaper than the tickets of alliances.
The nice thing about travel agencies is the personal contact and advice from the mostly well-traveled employees. But that is also a bit the crux of it. Because first of all it depends on the agent you get.
We had a flop at STA first and then, on a second try a very nice consultation.
And second, the person then really has to understand what you want.
At Airtreks we got a great deal with two variantions after a long phone call. They even called us in Austria from the US while making the offer again because of a query.
After a very nice personal appointment at STA in Vienna we received a good deal, which, however, did not quite meet our wishes. Especially in terms of flight times and stops. Through phone calls and email correspondence with our agent at STA we nearly made it work. In the end, it was not exactly what we wanted.
In addition, a travel agency keeps you up for an offer only for a while and you’re quickly under pressure to book at the price offered.
In addition, the flights are booked under normal conditions and you have different conditions for changes or changes applying on each flight.
The big advantages when booking through a travel agency:
- The price; Travel agents can simply bundle cheaper packages.
- The advice and support provided by employees and, ultimately, the liability to which travel agents are obliged.
- The possibility of more than just one-stop flights. Including rental cars, tours and hotels.
- The independence from airline miles
Handicaps of Round the world tickets with travel agencies:
- Little flexibility or higher costs for changes and transfers
- The correspondence and the time required
- The time pressure
Long story short, : Book your ticket with a travel agent if you know exactly what you want * and you’re sure you’ll make it that way. * Aside from where you want to go, you may have to clarify other questions before the first offer. Do you care about stops or not? Do you have preferred flight times or airlines? Do you collect miles with certain airlines? Do you need specific baggage or transfer options?
As far as the offers from travel agencies are concerned, the Airtreks offer would have been the most economic. STA’s offer was just under 20% higher.
However, the employee at STA was extremely nice and helped us after the cancellation with the Japan Rail Pass and a rental car for Namibia.
We decided against a booking with a travel agency in general because we liked the more consistent terms in the alliances. Especially the greater flexibility for any changes and rebookings. We also decided to go for loyalty miles.
On top of that, we did not want to book unless we were 100% sure and the travel agents were limited in their ability to maintain their offers, while for the alliances the price stayed the same, provided the flights were still available.
Since we were still quite flexible with the routing, we might just have needed the trying around in the online portal to finish our planning.
In the end, we went for a One World ticket. They had by far the worst online routing tool; Really, incredibly slow with more than 5 destinations. But we managed to beat a similar Star Alliance route almost exclusively with direct flights for € 3000.
Tricks and interesting facts:
- Flights are generally only bookable 10-11 months in advance.
- Alliances have a mileage-based base price.
- Direct flights have fewer miles and keep the base price lower.
- You can check direct routes on the website.
- You will make your booking with a regional partner of One World. In Europe that’s British Airways. You can pay the whole trip at once via credit card. Master Card, Visa and American Express are accepted.