It was a dream some years ago, specially for the price. Things have begun to change, and something that began for more than 5,000 euros (7,250 US dollars) is now a reality for a bit more than 2,000 euros (3,000 US dollars). As the airlines industry has grown and the sky has been progressively “released” to new competitors, Round the World fares have gone down all of a sudden and now the dream to make a Round the World trip is pure reality.
The thing is… where to begin with the Round the World planning? Sometimes it can be tricky enough to plan a trip to one single country, and now those guys are telling you that they have nearly 1.000 airports available to land and you need to choose between all them. Well, that can be pretty tricky and I am really not going to help you in that. Seriously, this is your choice, and there are no real recommendations, just follow your dreams.
Another thing, is choosing which is the best provider either in price and quality of services to choose when going for this adventure. There is a need to understand that a round the world trip is not something provided by an airline alone but by alliances of airlines instead. The 3 big ones that operate the Round the World option and many more in the market nowadays are Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team. I am going to introduce you to the three of them and let you choose the one that fits best your needs.
Star Alliance puts together 841 airports in 157 countries. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian Airlines, United, Singapore Airlines, US Airways, Austrian, Spanair, Swiss… these are some of the most important airlines they work with, making a total of 17. They allow you a maximum of 15 stopovers, which they consider stays in one city that last more than 24 hours, and you can travel a maximum of 39,000 miles.
Regarding the fares, for a Round the World trip they will depend on the class you want to travel in and the number of miles you do, from 26,000 to 39,000, divided in 4 levels of pricing. The only problem is that they don’t offer exact numbers in their web-page and you need to plan all your route, enter your personal data, and then access to a screen where the price will be calculated. The interactive system to plan your trip is very good but I find it a big mistake to do not give any fare estimate.
On the other side, One World has an offer of 10 different airlines. American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and LAN are some of their best members. Dragonair, considered the best airline in China, joined them recently on the first of November. Even if they have less airlines than their competitor Star Alliance, One World has managed to cover 700 airports in more than 150 countries.
Furthermore, they have two different options for the Round the World tour. One uses this basic airlines and another one, called Global Explorer, for an extra cost will allow you to use airlines that are not members of their alliance. Duration of the trip goes from 10 days up to 12 months, so you have complete freedom to decide depending on your availability
Regarding the price, it will depend on the number of continents you visit and the class you want to travel in. Considering the economy class, fares will vary from 3,900 dollars for the 3-continents route (2700 euros) to 5,300 dollars (3650 euros) for the 6-continents trip, using the non-extended airlines option.
Finally, Sky Team is not left behind at all, with some of the biggest European airlines such as Alitalia, Air France, KLM and Aeroflot. Also offers the rest of the biggest airlines in the world that the other alliances do not include, with names such as Aeromexico, China Southern, Continental Airlines, Delta and Korean Air, totaling 11 plus 3 associated airlines. With 841 cities in 162 countries, it has possibly the widest range of operations.
The situation is the same regarding the time allowed to travel, varying from 10 days to 1 year, and they offer 3 different options depending on your needs, flexibility and pricing. Your choice, as well as with Star Alliance, can vary between 3 and 15 stops along your route. The offer includes 3 price levels for 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 miles, and also depends on the class. Taking an example with economy class, we could make the 29,000 miles trip for 3450 US dollars (2380 euros), for 4420 dollars the 34,000 miles world tour (3,049 euros), and up to a maximum of 39,000 miles that will cost 5500 dollars (3800 euros) approximately.
As you can see, to choose the Round the World option that you prefer is not really easy. After all, my best recommendation would be to choose the alliance depending on your dream destinations. Plan your trip before looking at what they offer, make a selection between 3 and 15 cities that you would like to visit, draw the lines in a world map, and then take a look at which one of the 3 alliances is able to bring you to the most of your destinations. The price variance exists, but the strong competence between the three of them makes the difference too little as to take it into account. Plan the trip of your dreams and choose simply who wants to take you there!