One of the best redemptions using miles and points is a round the world trip in First or Business Class – whereby you can fly around the world and stop in a number of destinations for a lower price than if you were to book multiple one-way tickets.
Every frequent flyer program sets their own rules on what is allowed on a Round-the-World award ticket. Remember that the rules of the airline you are using to book your ticket will apply (not the airline you will actually fly).
General Round the World Award Ticket Notes
There are a few important key things you need to understand when planning your award redemption for a round the world ticket:
- there must be award availability on all your desired segments and waitlisting is not permitted
- you can generally mix cabins, but the cost in miles will be determined by the highest cabin on your itinerary
- booking a RTW award can usually only be done by phone and it might take a few calls to find an agent with experience and knowledge how to book these awards
- the same award change and cancellation rules usually apply to these bookings
- you must meet the requirements of a RTW award for your itinerary to price as a RTW, otherwise it might price differently, for example, as a multi-city with one-way journeys
- you can fly multiple airlines, but they all must be partner airlines of the airline who’s miles you are redeeming
- some airlines permit you to change your trip after you depart and others will not allow changes after you fly the first flight
There are other rules and you can check them on the website of the frequent flyer program you are using. Do note that not all airlines and frequent flyer programs offer round the world redemptions.
Round the World Award Ticket Pricing
A RTW award ticket has different rules than a regular award ticket – this is because a RTW ticket prices differently in miles. For example, the prices of a RTW ticket could be as follows:
- First Class: 400,000 miles
- Business Class: 250,000 miles
- Economy Class: 150,000 miles
In addition to the miles, you will need to pay the usual airport taxes and fees. Some frequent flyer programs do also make you pay fuel surcharges – and these can add up quickly on a RTW booking, so it’s best to book with a program that doesn’t pass these charges on to you.
Round the World Award Ticket Routing Rules
A RTW award ticket features different routing rules than a standard award ticket, this is due to a number of factors like the ability to add multiple stopovers or open-jaws, something that may not be allowed on a standard award ticket.
A Round the World award ticket could include the following rules/features:
- you must cross both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
- you must have a certain number of stopovers or open-jaws
- you may have to travel through or stop in certain regions
- you usually cannot backtrack – so you have to fly in one direction
- all travel must be completed within one year, so your stopover days are limited and can’t be really long
There are a number of other rules to these tickets and if you don’t meet all of the rules, either the ticket won’t price and won’t be bookable, or it might price as a multi-city award with one-way bookings, at which point you wouldn’t get the RTW price. Again, the rules are set by the airline who’s miles you are redeeming.
Round the World Award Ticket Example
Here is a simple example of a round the world ticket which you could book if there is award availability:
- 1) Seattle – San Francisco – Sydney
- 2) Sydney – Auckland – Bangkok
- 3) Bangkok – Singapore – Dubai
- 4) Dubai – Frankfurt – London
- 5) London – Newark – Seattle
In this example you are stopping over in Sydney, Bangkok, Dubai, and London. You could potentially swap one of the stops into an open-jaw, so you could fly into Sydney and out of Auckland, for example, and you’d need to buy a separate ticket between the two. Open-Jaws are great because they allow you to visit more places and build in side trips with separate tickets.
RTW Award vs. Multiple One-Way Awards
Technically, a round the world can be booked in a variety of ways – either all on one ticket or as multiple one-way award tickets, for example. There are pros and cons to both types of bookings such as:
- a true RTW booking will probably cost you less miles but you need to find the entire award availability for your trip at the same time, which isn’t easy if you’re flying in the premium cabins
- booking multiple one-way awards will cost you more miles but will allow you the flexibility of flying different airlines through different frequent flyer programs – you can easily mix cabins and airlines, changing these would be much easier since they would be simple tickets
All in All
RTW tickets are not as popular as regular award bookings due to the number of restrictions like needing to book the entire trip at the same time, which can be challenging with award space. The ticket would cost you less miles, but it also might be less flexible and a nightmare to change down the road. Many people these days book multi-city and one-way awards when planning a round the world trip as this allows them much more flexibility – like flying different cabins or airlines, or even making changes mid-trip.
Miles and points are amazing and powerful when you put them to great use – especially on premium cabin redemptions for flights all around the world. Remember that there are an infinite number of ways to book an award and you should carefully study the best ways to redeem your miles for your dream trip so you can maximize them fully and explore the world.