RTW Airfare Myths
Here are a few of the common myths we hear about round the world airfares…
I can’t backtrack on my journey
This isn’t entirely true. You can backtrack whilst remaining inside a continent, however, some restrictions apply. For example, you can only travel from the west coast of the US to the east coast once but you may backtrack as long as you don’t make your way back to the coast. Bear in mind that backtracking is counted in your mileage should you be purchasing a mileage based ticket.
Round the World tickets are always cheaper/ always more expensive
Purchasing a round the world ticket can be cheaper than travelling to certain destinations at certain times of the year but there is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes due to availability of seats on around the world tickets can be cheaper than purchasing tickets to Europe of the US. See our cost comparison for more information. One thing is for sure; round the world tickets deliver much better value than point to point fares due to their flexibility, no seasonal surcharges and the overall cost per flight.
It’s cheaper to travel in a East or West direction
Most fares are not affected but the direction you choose to fly. Each city has slightly different departure taxes along the way and as long as there is availability on the same flights, there will only be a minor change based on if you head East or West. Our consultants may suggest to flip the order of the trip should availability make the difference.
I want to book a round the world ticket because it’s open dated
Round the World tickets certainly offer good flexibility and value for money, allowing you to see more for often similar or less than the cost of a return ticket. Like return tickets though, dates for each leg are booked in advance and change fees are in place for future amendments. Change fees along with seat selections, baggage and even food and entertainment fees are a big part of the airlines profit in the current climate with fare pricing not really changing in tandem with inflation over the past 10-15 years. It’s best to have your dates firm where you can and avoid paying those penalties by the airlines. On a positive note, with changing a round the world ticket, you are able to change multiple legs on at the same time and is covered by the one change fee [subject tot availability]. There are also fares with minimal change fees when booking the more inclusive oneworld/star alliance style fares.
I’ll book economy and upgrade with frequent flyer points
Upgrading with frequent flyer points is a bit of a mirage for most travellers. We see a lot of people earn points with credit cards and then want to use them to upgrade to business class. Unfortunately that is not a realistic option without maintaining a high status frequent flyer account. Airlines upgrade based on frequent flyer status, rewarding those who spend the most time in the air with them. Also, you need to pay upfront for an ‘upgradeable’ airfare which generally rules out all discount level pricing. For Gold and Platinum frequent flyers this may be something worth considering but for Bronze or Silver members it is very unlikely you will receive a confirmed upgrade with so much competition from high tier frequent flyers.
Book now, pay later
In today’s dynamic travel environment airlines offer price incentives to book early with lower pricing for those quick to snap up discount seat availability. However, they require payment upfront to confirm your flights. This is usually in 3 days from reservation, with some fares offering 7 to 14 days payment. This way the airlines have confirmed, paid seats without worrying that there will be a number of seats released closer to departure. Unfortunately, the days of having a long time to pay off your flights are behind us.
I’ll book last minute, it’ll be cheaper
With airlines having advanced yield management software and a long history of booking trends, they can effectively stimulate demand in advance to fill aircraft well before the travel date. This allows them to skim the market and as you get closer, pricing will trend up as people book. In the low seasons of November and February you may get away with booking relatively late, but for other times of the year we recommend 3-6 months notice if travelling outside of school holidays, or 6-10 months booking notice for travel during a school holiday period. More seats and discounted seats are not released closer to departure, in fact, airlines make most of their profit in the last few weeks of sale selling the last few seats at a premium to those people who absolutely have to travel regardless of cost.
I’ll pay some of my airfare on points
A couple of airlines use a points+pay system, but this is an unrealistic option for more complex round the world airfares. Points cannot be used to offset your main ticket purchase and the conversion ratio of points+pay schemes is quite poor. You are better off using points for internal flights or saving them for a simple return ticket on a classic award seat.