Booking a Star Alliance round-the-world trip with KrisFlyer miles

By Brandon Loo, April 14 2019
Booking a Star Alliance round-the-world trip with KrisFlyer miles

This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.

You’ve done the hard yards – probably a busy year flying with Singapore Airlines for work, and maybe with a credit card sign-up bonus to boot. Now, armed with a stash of a few hundred thousand KrisFlyer miles, what could you do with them?

One option is a business class Star Alliance Round The World Award for 280,000 KrisFlyer miles. With a standard Sydney-London return flight in business class clocking in at 265,000 KrisFlyer miles, just 15,000 miles more could see you circling the globe instead.

That’s with up to seven stopovers of more than 24 hours at cities of your choice, up to 35,000 miles (56,327 km) worth of flights with Star Alliance airlines, and up to 12 months to enjoy the journey – all at the front of the plane.

It’s great for anyone who was already going to book a return journey to somewhere far like Europe but now can literally explore the whole world for just a few thousand more KrisFlyer miles.

Of course, nothing this rewarding in life is easy: the booking will require a lot of research, has limited flexibility and can be quite difficult to put together.

If that doesn’t faze you, here’s what you need to know about booking a round-the-world trip with your balance of KrisFlyer miles.

Booking a round-the-world trip with KrisFlyer miles: the basics

The number of miles you'll need for a round-the-world ticket depends on how you plan to travel:

  • 405,000 miles for first class
  • 280,000 miles for business class
  • 200,000 miles for economy class

With the difference between economy and business just 80,000 KrisFlyer miles, a business class round-the-world journey is definitely the one to aim for.

Of course, each flight will need to have business class saver fare availability, just like when you'd normally book a flight using frequent flyer points.

The trip needs to start and finish in the same country, but not necessarily the same city. Within Australia, you’d be fine to depart from Sydney and arrive back in Melbourne if that suited you.

You can include any of the 26 Star Alliance member airlines in your itinerary.

[Click or tap the image to enlarge it]

Unfortunately, you won't be able to include SWISS first class in your round-the-world journey and if you plan to include a Lufthansa first class flight, it won't be possible until 14 days prior to that departure: impractical for most people looking to finalise their full itinerary in advance.

You can still add SWISS business class to your Star Alliance RTW itinerary
You can still add SWISS business class to your Star Alliance RTW itinerary

Also read: SWISS to upgrade Airbus A340 with new business, first class

Be mindful that it's difficult to find business class rewards on Air New Zealand flights as well, and that non-Star Alliance partners of KrisFlyer such as SilkAir and Virgin Australia can't be included in the award either.

You'll need to fly continuously east or west without backtracking, cross the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans only once, and not exceed 35,000 miles in total distance.

You can visit up to seven cities on this trip for more than 24 hours each – these are referred to as 'stopovers'. Any stops under 24 hours between two flights are called transits instead and don't count towards the seven-city limit, even if you leave the airport and stay the night there.

Stopovers are limited to once per city and twice per country. While there are no restrictions on the number of under-24-hour transits, you won't be able to have more than 16 individual flights in your itinerary either.

'Surface sectors', where you make your own way between two cities such as from Los Angeles to San Francisco, count both cities as stopovers so try to avoid doing this unless necessary.

If you were planning on making your own way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, both cities would still be counted in your two-city-per-country stopover limit
If you were planning on making your own way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, both cities would still be counted in your two-city-per-country stopover limit

Finally, you can change flight segments for a fee prior to departing, but once you've taken the first flight, all future legs cannot be changed or cancelled.

Booking a round-the-world trip with KrisFlyer miles: putting it all together

Once you’ve got your head wrapped around those rules, it’s time to start planning.

In most cases, it'll be easiest to search for business class seat availability through the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer website. It's easiest to search one flight segment at a time, as if you were booking each flight as a one-way trip, rather than a multi-city.

Start by plugging in your proposed flight details, ensuring 'Redeem flights' is checked. Choose the desired travel class and don't forget to select 'Flexible travel dates' if you're open to more options.

Next up will be a calendar showing a snapshot of the cheapest seat available for each day, together with a table showing the individual flight details.

Remember that in order to book a seat for a RTW trip, it must be classified as a Saver Award. Seats under Advantage Award categories cannot be booked for a RTW fare. 

In this example, only the second flight has Saver availability in business class (since the first one is under 'Waitlist'), so that would be the sole option for your RTW itinerary.

Sometimes, Star Alliance partner options won't show up on Singapore Airlines' website. This is where United's website comes in handy as a backup since it will allow you to search for Star Alliance availability without needing to log-in.

Head to the United home page and put in your flight details, ensuring 'Book with miles' is ticked.

Once again, we're looking for Saver Awards in your desired travel class. You can safely ignore the number of United miles needed here, as we're only interested in the presence of Saver Award seats, which tells us Singapore Airlines should be able to include it in your RTW itinerary when it comes time to book.

This route wouldn't show up on the Singapore Airlines website. Ignore the numbers; it's the presence of Saver Award seats that we're most interested in
This route wouldn't show up on the Singapore Airlines website. Ignore the numbers; it's the presence of Saver Award seats that we're most interested in

[Click or tap the image to enlarge it]

Using both Singapore Airlines' and United's search engines, you should get a good idea of what flights you can include in your booking.

Keep track of all the flight details if you find availability and try to be flexible if possible, by checking on either side of your desired flight dates. In big cities, it'll also help to search multiple airports within that city, such as Heathrow, Gatwick and London City for London, in case there's a different flight with a business class seat open.

Once your ideal trip is planned out, make use of the Great Circle Mapper or similar tool for verifying the total distance of your trip and ensure you’re not ‘backtracking’. All you need to know is the three-letter airport code for every destination.

This simple trip from Sydney to Beijing, Paris, San Francisco and back follows all the rules and comes to 23,654 miles
This simple trip from Sydney to Beijing, Paris, San Francisco and back follows all the rules and comes to 23,654 miles

Once you've pieced it all together, call KrisFlyer membership services on (02) 8228 1188 from Australia (or +65 6789 8188 from overseas). Tell the operator you want to book a 'Star Alliance Round the World Award with KrisFlyer miles' and carefully feed them all the flight details including airline, date and flight number. 

Assuming you satisfy all the rules and availability can be found, your KrisFlyer miles will be deducted based on the highest class of service within your itinerary. What that means is even if there's one first class flight in an otherwise business class itinerary, the whole booking will be charged at first class rates (405,000 miles instead of 280,000 miles).

To avoid being slugged with this difference, keep all legs in business class when you're aiming for a business class reward, or as a backup, even in premium economy or economy if there's no business class availability.

In addition to the KrisFlyer miles needed, you'll also need a credit card to cover the associated taxes and surcharges of your booking, which will vary wildly depending on what airlines and cities are included.

Even though the round-the-world reward is well-suited to long and complex itineraries spanning many countries and months, it's also equally useful for simple dashes across the world.

For example, take the Sydney-Beijing-Paris-San Francisco-Sydney routing in the image further above.

Those business class flights would need a hefty 456,500 KrisFlyer miles when booked separately under Singapore Airlines' revised Star Alliance reward chart, but only a flat 280,000 miles when booked together as a round-the-world reward, leaving you with many more miles in your pocket for a future trip.

Also read: Five things I learned flying round-the-world with Star Alliance

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 26

Thanks Brandon, will the domestic US sectors (eg LAX-IAD) in F Class count towards the F Class RTW trip or J Class RTW trip point requirements?

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 3

Love this, you've just saved me a lot of hard earned points! Thank you!

Etihad - Etihad Guest

23 Jun 2019

Total posts 2

Great guidance Brandon. I have discovered that there is limited business class availability from Brisbane/Sydney to Vancouver or LA even booking 11 months ahead. I am doing a RTW award booking which covers about 8 weeks, returning from Singapore to Brisbane. Our commitments require us to fly in an Easterly direction. Do you know if I can book the first leg as soon as seats become available (eg Polaris from SYD to LAX or BNE to YVR with Air Canada) using some of my points with the Singapore call centre and then complete the booking a couple of months later? I realise that I would probably have to pay the US50 per person change fee but it would be worth it to lock in the seats on the first leg!

31 Aug 2019

Total posts 1

Hi everyone,

I've recently booked one of these RTW in business.

There's a new requirement from the SQ call centre. After you've selected all your flights you have to go to the star alliance website, click round the world and create the itinerary in their trip planner. Save the trip and it'll give you a code. Then you call the SQ call centre and give them this code.

My understanding as to why they want you to do this is the trip planner software calculates the total mileage, ensures one continuous direction of travel and number of sectors and stopovers to make sure it is within the requirements.

It's a lot of time but totally worth it if you can pull it off. By the time you've done one of these you often know more than the people in the SQ call centre!


Etihad - Etihad Guest

23 Jun 2019

Total posts 2

That does seem to be their new requirement. But it is important to establish the flights on which there is saver seat availability to input into their trip planner as it will bring up flights on which there is no availability!

And it is not hard to know more than some of them - only yesterday I had one of their email advisers ask me to revise my proposed itinerary as Avianca Brasil was no longer in the Star Alliance but I had already shown the relevant sector as land only!

I did OneWorld RTW in 2018 and it was far easier to assemble, book and deal with Qantas than Singapore Airlines so after our 2020 trip I am going back to collecting Qantas FF points.

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