RTW Airfare Rules
As you go about booking your round the world trip we try and keep the jargon to a minimum but for those who are a bit more detailed oriented, here is a list of airfare rules which generallly apply to round the world fares. Each ticket has slightly different interpretations of these but this will give you a fair idea of the constraints of around the world airfares.
Ocean Crossings travelling across the major oceans forms the basis of around the world travel
Both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean must be crossed on a round world ticket. See Circle fares for alternatives to crossing both of these oceans.
Stopovers stopping in a city for more than 24 hours
A minimum of 3 stopovers must be taken on an around the world ticket. More than 20 stopovers can be had on the top tier of tickets. A city may only be stopped in once but can be transited up to 3 times. Some tickets will restrict the number of stopovers in each continent, particularly the OneWorld tickets which only allow 2 stops in Europe on their 26,000 mile around the world ticket.
Transits stopping in a city less than 24 hours
An overnight stay can be utilised without necessarily counting as a stopover. Cities can be transited multiple times if needed; this can be the case with major hub cities such as London, Frankfurt and Chicago.
Duration of Ticket the maximum validity of a ticket
12 months is the maximum travel duration from first to last flight on almost all around the world tickets. The last flight must arrive on or before the 12 month maximum.
Date Changes changing the flight date before or after departure
Flight changes before departure attract the airline reissue fee plus the fare and taxes are reassessed to current levels with any gap paid. If rerouting, additional taxes and fees will apply. Changes after departure attract the reissue fee, if there is no route change and the same pricing bracket is available it is just the flat reissue fee collected.
Open Dated Tickets the practice of having no set dates of travel
Open dated tickets no longer exist and the whole route must have at least a provisional date. Some airlines permit the last couple of sectors to be issued as dummy legs if the preferred dates are not open for sale. This is then amended as airlines open up flights 11 months in advance with 1 x waiver of the change fee to reissue those flights that were outside of system range at the time of booking.
Route the order of destinations organised for the round the world ticket
Each ticket must have a route or structured ordered of destinations. The route is determined based on many other rules and can often include travel via hub cities. The route must be in either an easterly or westerly direction with no backtracking between continents.
Route Changes changing the route of the ticket
Changing the route before or after departure may be permitted but will often attract larger fees and additional taxes to be paid to the rerouting airline. It is recommended to set the route at the start of the booking wherever possible.
Hub Cities an airlines base city or airport
Each airline has a hub. Usually it is the capital city of their mother country but not always. For example, in America, there are several major hubs operated by different regional airlines and flights across the continent will often route via these major hubs where transits or stopovers may also be permitted.
Backtracking travelling in an opposite direction to the overall direction of the ticket
Backtracking is permitted in certain situations, particularly within a continent. Backtracking is not permitted between continents or from the west coast to the east coast of the USA or from Hawaii to mainland USA.
Direction the direction of the ticket from Australia
The direction can either be East via the South Pacific, South America or North America or it can be West via Asia or Africa. The ticket must continue in this direction without continental backtracking.
Independent, Own Arrangements or Surface Sectors making your own way between two points
You may elect to make your own way between two points. This is permitted on most round the world tickets. Distance based fares will include the gap between two cities and the surface sector is included in the maximum calculation of 16 sectors on any e-ticket.
Distance Travelled total mileage of the ticket
The total distance travelled or mileage calculation is derived from the straight line distance between all points on the itinerary. This is used to calculate the appropriate price bracket on some alliance based airfares, but has been phased out on basic round world tickets which are route based.
Direct Services a flight between two cities which may include a layover
Direct flights are different to non-stop flights. Direct flights can often include a layover to pick up additional passengers or fuel. For example, Sydney – London with Qantas on flight number QF1 is classed as a direct service. However, this service will layover in Dubai for 1.5 hours. The benefit of a direct service is that you get back onto the same seat on the same aircraft. Also, you don’t have to rely on baggage handlers getting your bags onto the next plane. Another benefit of direct flights is that the layover isn’t counted in your mileage or sector count.