Round the World Airfare, How to fly around the world
By: Shelby Gonzalez (justin) 2012.04.07
Pay one price, get a whole journey’s worth of plane tickets: that’s the idea behind around-the-world fares and their cousins, “circle” fares.
Usually offered by alliances of multiple airlines, around-the-world fares and circle fares consist of collections of plane tickets that trace circular routes, starting and ending in the same place – usually a major hub city like New York or Los Angeles. Around-the-world fares take you around the globe, while circle fares loop around a single region, like the Pacific or South America. These routes can include surface travel, so if you fly into Singapore but your next flight leaves from Bangkok, you’re responsible for getting yourself to the plane.
When booking one of these fares, be sure to read the fine print. In some cases, if you miss or skip a flight, your remaining tickets may be automatically cancelled. Contact your travel agent in advance if your plans change.
Typically, you have one year from the date of the first flight to use all the tickets. The complexity of these fares means that you can’t book them online, but websites like Airtreks.com and STAtravel.com let you build a custom itinerary and then offer a price range and a “contact an agent” option.
You can expect to pay between $1600 and $2500 for a very basic around-the-world route. Airtreks.com’s “Classic Around the World” ticket is at the lower end of the price scale and offers stops in New York, London, Athens, and Bangkok. A route that includes stops in Africa or, say, Easter Island will run upwards of $2500. This may seem like a lot, but if you price each leg of the trip separately, you’ll realize you could theoretically save a few thousand dollars.
When considering an around-the-world or circle fare, take your own situation and travel style into account. Are you on a timetable, perhaps squeezing in a world tour during a semester off, or are you planning to kick around the globe for a couple of years? Do you want to have a general idea of where you’re headed, or would you rather wing it?
Star Alliance (staralliance.com), Oneworld Alliance (oneworld.com), and SkyTeam (skyteam.com) all offer around-the-world and circle fares based on trip mileage. Airtreks.com, JustFares.com, and AroundtheWorldTickets.com offer customizable itineraries.