So much goes into planning a trip like this, and rather than studying for Professional Responsibility I am going to share the mountain of information I have acquired during the planning phase!
Purchasing a ticket planning the route goes hand in hand so I am going to deal with them together in this blog post. Before looking into tickets we spend hours and hours discussing where we wanted to go and came up with a list of “must-sees”, those were: Africa, the Greek Islands, Dubai, Australia in December and South America.
One of the first questions people ask us is always “oh, did you get one of those ‘around the world’ tickets?” The short answer to this question is “yes” but the long answer is much more interesting! After we picked out where we wanted to go, we had to figure out how to get there. The two best options were:
- Airtreks, an online ticket broker who strings together cheap one-ways into a RTW ticket, or
- An airline alliance like oneworld or Star Alliance. Due to our requirements Star Alliance was not an option, because their RTW product is based on milage and maxes out at 39,000 miles (we are going about 54,000).
I have heard nothing but rave reviews about Airtreks but the quote for our requirements was very high ($7000 pre-tax), especially when compared with the oneworld Global Explorer Fare which was priced at $6000 CAD or $5300 USD for six continents. The fare gives you 20 segments (every flight number or overland segment counts as one). The one direction rule that plagues some RTW products is relaxed – although you do have to proceed through the continents in one direction you can backtrack within a continent. You have one year to use your ticket from the first flight. As of June 1, 2008 the rules are changing and you only get 16 segments – in my opinion (and that of the helpful flyertalk community) this devalues the ticket significantly but I’m sure it will still be a wonderful product. I highly recommend the AA RTW Desk (1 800 247 3247), their product knowledge and cheerful attitude in incredible!
Once we determined that this fare worked for us the fun really began! On this ticket you can go anywhere the alliance flies and you have 20 segments to fill up we spent hours pouring over our route – adding in Jordan, Mauritius, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Easter Island, and moving the continents around so we could make it home to celebrate our closest friends’ weddings this summer. This is what we ended up with:
Buying the ticket was most certainly a debacle that had us renting a car to drive to Seattle on my 25th birthday to buy the tickets in American dollars… with the dollar above parity, the lack of GST, and the cheaper fuel taxes this saved us at least $1200 per person. We are flying 20 segments and the eTicket limit is currently 16 so we have a paper ticket, the pros and cons of which are fairly obvious but at least there is more romanticism in having a huge stack of tickets!