Today I bought my Round-the-world ticket for the first leg of the tour. It was an adventure of its own.
Here’s a detailed account on how it went, for the first leg of the journey, October ’13 to April ’14:
I played around for months with the Star Alliance Round-the-world tool, trying to figure out an itinerary that would keep me warm (my eternal summer addiction) and comply with the rules and conditions of such a ticket as maximum mileage, stop-overs etc…
It became clear pretty much that I would need more than one ticket, first of all because I would travel for more than 12 months, but also because eI would exceed the maximum mileage. So I concentrated on the first round.
I came up with a couple of routes that looked good, and I maxed out the mileage…. but then I had to make a couple of choices:
- I had to make definite decisions on the itinerary. I could change the date of a flight, for a fee, but not the itinerary as such. But I was far from ready to know that I would take flight X on day Y from Sydney to Melbourne… how could I? I want to keep things a bit open. Maybe I’ll meet some people, and drive down… So one of the decisions was: only plan the big hubs with the Round-the-World-Ticket, leave the rest to life.
- TAM Airlines did not sell mileage seats earlier than three months ahead… I needed them from Rio to Buenos Aires, though… I did not want to wait and then lose the seats on the other parts of the trip. So I set this as ‘overland’ travel, and bought tickets for that separately, later on.
- Uh-oh: There was no Star Alliance flight from South America to Australia or New Zealand. Oops. That’s the downside of any Alliance ticket – they might not fly where you want to go. It meant that I would either have to re-plan all of my itinerary or find alternatives, those being: the northern route: a 40-hour Air Canada Santiago-Toronto-Vancouver-Sydney, arrival +3 routing; the southern route: buying a one-way ticket with another airline; the Bora Bora route: hop to Easter Island, on to French Polynesia and then New Zealand.
In the end, I did neither. I’ll head north, but with a couple of days stop-over in my second home town San Francisco, meet up with the gang, and relax in between some long flights….
Unfortunately, some of the flights I had chosen had already sold out on their allotted mileage seats. And some airlines had closed their planes for mileage seats during the holiday season altogether. So back to square one…?
I decided to buy a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Sydney and not to include this in the Round-the-World-Ticket. Seven months ahead of the date the price was still OK.
Sure, that was an additional cost, but otherwise I would have had to plan everything from scratch. I get to see some friends, on top of it.
Oh, btw, I checked for the Easter-Island-Tahiti-Route, but prices were sky-high. No way. Next time. Bora Bora, be prepared.
Finally, I called the Lufthansa Round-the-World-Team yesterday. I was pretty excited and nervous, gave them the code with my saved itinerary and had them work it out.
Today, we spend a bit over an hour on the phone for the final details. Finding alternatives to full planes, tweaking dates and routes etc. They were really helpful.
All in all, I paid only 720 Euro in taxes for the RTW-Ticket, and 180.000 Miles. Plus the one-way ticket SFO-SYD and the flights from Rio to Sao Paulo and on to Buenos Aires. It came in at a neat 2001 Euro.
A very fair deal, considering the price of a ticket to Australia alone…