RTW Airfare Rules

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As you go about booking your round the world trip we try and keep the jargon to a minimum but for those who are a bit more detailed oriented, here is a list of airfare rules which generally apply to round the world fares. Each ticket has slightly different interpretations of these but this will give you a fair idea of the constraints of around the world airfares.

Travelling across the major oceans forms the basis of around the world travel

Both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean must be crossed on a round world ticket.

Stopping in a city for more than 24 hours

A minimum of 3 stopovers must be taken on most round the world tickets (full Star Alliance Tickets require a minimum of only 2 stops). More than 20 stopovers can be had on the top tier of tickets. A city may only be stopped in once but can be transited up to 3 times. Some tickets will restrict the number of stopovers in each continent, particularly the OneWorld tickets which only allow 2 stops in Europe on their 26,000 mile around the world ticket.

Stopping in a city less than 24 hours

An overnight stay can be utilised without necessarily counting as a stopover. Cities can be transited multiple times if needed; this can be the case with major hub cities such as London, Frankfurt and Chicago.

The maximum validity of a ticket

12 months is the maximum travel duration from first to last flight on almost all round the world tickets. The last flight must arrive on or before the 12 month maximum.

Changing the flight date before or after departure

Flight changes before departure attract the airline reissue fee plus the fare and taxes are reassessed to current levels with any gap paid. If rerouting, additional taxes and fees will apply. Changes after departure attract the reissue fee, if there is no route change and the same pricing bracket is available it is just the flat reissue fee collected.

The practice of having no set dates of travel

Open dated tickets no longer exist and the whole route must have at least a provisional date. Some airlines permit the last couple of sectors to be issued as dummy legs if the preferred dates are not open for sale. This is then amended as airlines open up flights 11 months in advance with 1 x waiver of the change fee to reissue those flights that were outside of system range at the time of booking.

The order of destinations organised for the round the world ticket

Each ticket must have a route or structured ordered of destinations. The route is determined based on many other rules and can often include travel via hub cities. The route must be in either an easterly or westerly direction with no backtracking between continents.

Changing the route of the ticket

Changing the route before or after departure may be permitted but will often attract larger fees and additional taxes to be paid to the rerouting airline. It is recommended to set the route at the start of the booking wherever possible.

An airlines base city or airport

Each airline has a hub. Usually it is the capital city of their mother country but not always. For example, in America, there are several major hubs operated by different regional airlines and flights across the continent will often route via these major hubs where transits or stopovers may also be permitted.

Travelling in an opposite direction to the overall direction of the ticket

Backtracking is permitted in certain situations, particularly within a continent. Route based fares such as the Lufthansa and SWISS Global fares, will permit this without penalty. This is especially prevalent in Europe where it is common to backtrack internally. Distance based fares, such as the oneworld Global Explorer or Star Alliance fares, would count backtracking distance in the calculation of the airfare and pricing tier so it should be avoided in these cases. Backtracking to/from Hawaii is restricted on all round the world fares and trans-continental backtracking in North America is typically restricted, with some workarounds available. 

Some fares will permit backtracking between continents. For example, Australia-North America-South America-North America. Oneworld allows this with their continent based fares without penalty, whereas Star Alliance permits it but prices based on distance travelled. Also, routing via the Middle East to Africa, and back via the Middle East to continental Europe is also permitted on the oneworld fare despite the Middle East being counted as part of the European continent for fare construction. 

The direction of the ticket from Australia

The direction can either be East via the South Pacific, South America or North America or it can be West via Asia or Africa. The ticket must continue in this direction without continental backtracking.

Making your own way between two points

You may elect to make your own way between two points. This is permitted on most round the world tickets. Distance based fares will include the gap between two cities and the surface sector is included in the maximum calculation of 16 sectors on any e-ticket.

Total mileage of the ticket 

The total distance travelled or mileage calculation is derived from the straight line distance between all points on the itinerary. This is used to calculate the appropriate price bracket on some alliance based airfares, but has been phased out on basic round world tickets which are route based.

A flight between two cities which may include a layover

Direct flights are different to non-stop flights. Direct flights can often include a layover to pick up additional passengers or fuel. For example, Sydney – London with Qantas on flight number QF1 is classed as a direct service. However, this service will layover in Singapore for 2 hours. The benefit of a direct service is that you get back onto the same seat on the same aircraft. Also, you don’t have to rely on baggage handlers getting your bags onto the next plane. Another benefit of direct flights is that the layover isn’t counted in your mileage or sector count.

Contact our round the world experts to help you with your airfare booking journey!

Call 1300 318 227 today or email to [email protected].

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