Flying around the world may seem like an extravagant sojourn, but smart business travellers can use these tickets to get more from their journeys – visiting clients in multiple cities one after the next, rather than taking a separate trip for every meeting, saving precious time.
Round-the-world (or 'RTW') tickets can include as few as two destination cities, even just the big corporate hubs of New York and London, for example, so you could jet from Australia to The Big Apple, swing around to London for your next round of meetings and fly straight home from there, all on the one ticket.
Here’s how to plan a round-the-world trip of your own with Star Alliance: the world’s largest airline alliance offering close to 19,000 daily departures to 1,300 airports across 193 countries.
Planning your Star Alliance round-the-world trip: choosing your cities
For corporate travellers, the easiest part of the planning process will naturally be where you want to visit, because it’ll come down to the needs of your employer, or what’s required for your own business.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick to the biggies of London and New York – and remember, there’s no requirement to visit every continent as part of a round-the-world booking: for the most part, you can fly wherever you like, as long as it makes geographical sense: so Sydney-Bangkok-London is fine, but Sydney-Vancouver-Taipei-London is not.
The only other thing you can’t really do is incorporate ‘return’ trips within the same ticket: such as flying to New York for some meetings, jetting down to Washington D.C. for a few more, returning to New York for other engagements and then venturing onward to your next destination.
You could certainly plan your travels to give you time to take a return trip from wherever you happen to be – you’d just have to book that separately as a standalone fare, rather than building it into your round-the-world journey.
An alternative would be to plan all your meetings together in one city before continuing to the next, such as flying into D.C. for a few days and tending to all your business there, before moving onto New York and doing likewise, to keep it part of your single, round-the-world itinerary.
Planning your Star Alliance round-the-world trip: how you’re getting there
With so many airlines and flights to choose from, chances are you’ll have several ways of getting between A, B, and C, so to make things a little easier, you can call up Star Alliance’s dedicated planning tool to get started.
There are two ways of doing this, so we’ll look at both. The first is to use the site’s “routes” function, to plug in where you are and where you want to end up – let’s say leaving from Sydney, flying to London. We’ll also select “include connections” as there are no non-stop flights.
The next screen presents some, but not all of your options – in this case, Thai Airways via Bangkok, Air China via Beijing, Singapore Airlines via Singapore, Air New Zealand via Auckland and Los Angeles, and Air Canada via Vancouver, plus Singapore Airlines via Canberra and Singapore as well, if you want to depart later in the day.
If you see something you’re happy with, then great, but you might want to uncover all your options before deciding, and that’s where the “destinations” search proves more useful.
This allows you to key in any city, and the website shows you all the Star Alliance routes departing from there. For this, we’ll uncheck “include connections” to avoid the map and results getting too messy…
… and instead find a cleaner-looking screen with all the options outlined.
Clicking “departure results list” brings up each route airline-by-airline, uncovering extra options like Air India to Delhi; United to Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco; Asiana to Seoul; ANA to Tokyo and so on – and because these are the major hubs of each of those airlines, they all have onward flights to London:
To confirm that, you could enter your desired transit city as a new destination in the search box, which is how you can also search for onward flights to piece together the rest of your trip.
If you’re picky about the airlines you fly with or the airports and cities you journey through, this also allows you to map out your preferred routing to suit your preferences. When you’re done, you might have put together something like this:
- Sydney to London via Bangkok with Thai Airways, or a combination of Thai Airways + EVA Air;
- London to New York with United or Air India;
- New York to Sydney via Los Angeles, Houston or San Francisco with United, or via Vancouver with Air Canada.
(Remember, you don’t have to fly with the most ‘obvious’ airline every time – that’s where this planning tool comes in handy to uncover other airlines that fly the same routes as ‘fifth freedom’ flights too, New York to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines being another good example.)
That’s all there is to it – in this case, a simple “round-the-world” booking attending to business in London and New York, all while minimising your travel time: taking what would normally be 100+ hours of travel as separate trips, to a lesser 50-60 hours overall while reaching the same cities, by not flying ‘backwards’ to get home.
In part two of this series we show you how to go about booking these tickets, whether through a trusted travel agent or the Star Alliance website, with fare prices often significantly less than the price of two return trips.