I’ve Got a Golden “RTW” Ticket – Flying Around the World

10 Sep

Phileas Fogg: One day, I will build a machine that will allow a man to fly!
San Francisco Hobo: Flying men? Where? Where?
Phileas Fogg: Nowhere!
San Francisco Hobo: Where are the flying men? Where are the flying men?
Phileas Fogg: They’re over there!
San Francisco Hobo: Beware the flying men! Beware the Flying men! The Bird men are coming!

Okay, I know I’m mixing novels here, but hey I was a literature major so give me a break. With my schedule of 22 spa stops in place, that leaves me approximately 25 days for travel, so air is the only way to go. Then I can make the airport to spa journey filling in with rental cars, transport provided by the spas, trains, horses, whatever.

When I began to research how to buy an around the world ticket (aka a RTW ticket by us seasoned travelers – wink, wink), I was astounded by the limited choices. RTW tickets are offered almost exclusively through airline alliances – that’s a group made up of several different international airlines when put together offer service circling the globe.
There are also lots of restrictions that vary like crazy. The top alliances are: SkyTeam, Star Alliance and One World.

Some of the restrictions and variations include:
-How many miles they limit the travel to. Plans are available for 20,000, 30,000 and 40,000 miles for instance.
-If they let you go backwards. Once you start from the US, let’s say California and you go to New York, you cannot go back to Arizona.
-How many stops they let you make, some allow 15, some 22
-If they let you book tickets as you go

Flying around the world is not cheap. If I was more flexible with travel dates and initial departure cities, I could cut my cost by almost half. But given the timeframe and our limited time in each destination there is no way this would work for me.

I need to make 20 stopovers with maximum miles; to make at least 3 stops on each continent; to book tickets or change tickets as I go along; to book a flight from a city other than the one I last landed in; and to travel on 4 continents.

The winner?  I ended up choosing One World at a cost of $12,500 for a first class ticket.

Why not have a little fun and peruse the alliances yourself? Each site has interactive planning tools. The links are: SkyTeam, One World and Star Alliance

What's waiting at the other side of a flight!


Alternatives to an RTW are “continent passes” for each continent or booking each leg of the journey separately. The continent pass also known as a EuropePass, AsiaPass, etc., is like an open ticket good for traveling to and from anyplace on the continent. Since I am not traveling to that many places on each continent, it would not be a good option for this trip.

I also spoke with airline reservationists about separate tickets for each leg. When she calculated the cost for each travelling in economy, it totalled over $5,000 more than a RTW first class ticket.

You may have noticed that I just said first class. . . I’m not being all princessy here. . One World’s upgrade from coach to first class meant I spent $4,200 more. Because extra space (I have really long legs) is a priority for me – especially on the Asian leg – their planes are designed for a smaller person – this is worth it to me.

Plus, I want to be fresh when I reach each spa, not waste a day recuperating from the trip. Also, just between you and me, I get claustrophobic when I’m put in the back of an airplane.

Coming soon, “It’s a Spa World, Part Deux or How to Plan a Spa Trip Around the World While Losing Your Mind!

See You at the Spa, Candy


One Response to “I’ve Got a Golden “RTW” Ticket – Flying Around the World”

  1. Stacey Derbinshire September 10, 2008 at 10:30 pm #


    I would like to put a link to your site on my blog roll if you want to do the same for mine. It would be a good way to build up both of our readerships.

    thank you.

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