While flying to a fascinating country and focusing on one region is a great way to experience a unique culture, curious travellers may like to check out contrasting destinations on one holiday. In this case, a Round The World fare could be just the ticket to enjoying a diverse range of incredible sights - where you can circle the globe seamlessly on a custom-designed ticket, flying from one continent to the next and back to your original departure point with different airlines.
So what is a Round The World ticket and how does it work?
We sat down with two of Flight Centre's dedicated RTW experts, Drew Currell and Rachel Dix, for the low down on these unique airline tickets. Both Drew and Rachel agree that it's the variety of destinations that make a RTW fare great value for money - with the principle condition being that travellers must fly in one direction and return to their country of origin.
"Potentially for the price of a return ticket to Europe you can get a Round The World fare that opens up so many more destinations. Why travel 20 plus hours to Europe when you can break it up and see the world as you go," said Drew.
"Customers use our expertise and extensive knowledge of airlines and routing to work out the cheapest and most direct way to tailor-make a fantastic global experience."
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While popular destinations do change with the season, Rachel notes that most travellers on a RTW fare fly from Australia across the Pacific Ocean to America or north into Asia.
"From Australia, travellers generally head to America or Asia first. So for our customers starting in the USA, they generally fly into Los Angeles before travelling across to the east coast and exploring New York. In Europe we find that travellers fly to Paris, London, Dublin, Rome and Zurich. Dubai is growing in popularity and then in Asia there's Bali, Phuket and Hong Kong," said Rachel.
"Brazil has had considerable publicity in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup, so we're finding more and more travellers are heading to South America instead of North America. In this case, a RTW ticket will take you into Santiago before flying across to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo."
The Fare Types
There are many types of Round The World fares. Popular options include those offered by the airline alliances of oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam. Finnair and Swiss also have a range of fares that are worth considering. Here's a snapshot of the fares but it's best to check with the experts for all the conditions associated with each particular fare.
In 1998 American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas formed oneworld to offer passengers smoother transfers and wider recognition at airport lounges. oneworld now numbers 12 airlines that serve 157 countries and offers both a continent-based ticket and a mileage-based fare.
The continent-based fare option, known as the oneworld Explorer, is based on the class you choose to fly, plus the number of oneworld continents you visit or pass through, including the continent of origin and any continent in which you transfer.
The oneworld Global Explorer fare is based on the total distance travelled and the cabin class you choose to fly. There are four tiers levels - up to 26,000, 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 miles.
In 1997 United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada, Thai Airways International and Scandinavian Airlines System formed a global airline alliance named Star Alliance. Star Alliance now totals 28 airlines that fly to 195 countries.
The Star Alliance Round the World fare is determined by the total number of miles flown as well as the country where the journey begins. A normal fare includes up to 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 miles. Passengers must include three or more stopovers. The maximum number of stopovers is 15. No more than three stopovers are permitted in any one country, except in the USA where five stopovers are allowed.
The third airline alliance, SkyTeam, was founded in 2000 when Aeromexico, Air France, Delta and Korean Air joined forces. SkyTeam is now made up of 19 airlines that serve 178 countries. A SkyTeam Round the World fare is calculated based on the cabin class, the origin of the journey and the miles travelled - 26,000, 29,000, 33,000 and 38,000. Passengers can make three to 15 stops, except on the 26,000 mile package, which allows for three to five stops.
Finnair* and SWISS*
In addition to the oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam offerings, the European-based airlines, Finnair and SWISS both offer Round The World fares that are quite often very cost effective. In this case, passengers travel on Finnair or SWISS on the routes they fly and must stopover in Helsinki or Zurich. For the other sectors, there is generally a selection of airlines that can be used.
Let's take a SWISS 3-stop airfare as an example. Travellers could fly from an Australian capital to an Asian hub, such as Hong Kong where you could explore Kowloon before flying onto Zurich with SWISS. After admiring this scenic destination, jump back on the plane to cross the Atlantic to Los Angeles before returning back to your original destination point.
On the other hand, sign up for a Finnair 5-stop global fare and travellers could depart Australia for Singapore, before flying onto the Finnish hub of Helsinki. From Helsinki, fly down to Paris before travelling to New York and onto Los Angeles.
"Get in early to get the best priced seats available. Ask your consultant what can be offered to maximize the value on your holiday. We can also book fully inclusive packages for holidays including accommodation, tours, cruise and travel insurance," said Rachel.
Drew said that travellers should make a wish list of the places they've always wanted to explore. He then advises customers to make a rough plan of how long they'd like to spend in each destination; a world map can be of great assistance because these fares require travel in one direction.
"Once customers have the basics, give the Round The World travel experts a call and they'll be able to find the best fare depending on your personal itinerary."
*For all the terms and conditions relating to Round The World Fares, contact Flight Centre’s experts in Round the World travel by calling 1300 665 830.