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How To Book Round-the-World Fares on the Major Alliances

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book round the world ticket

Have you ever considered taking a trip around the world? It’s a fantastic journey flying a minimum of 23,000 miles from your starting point.

But how do you do it? How do you ensure that you accomplish your travel goals and minimize the amount of money you spend? The three main airline alliances all allow you to book around-the-world fares. Some make it easier than others. Let’s take a look.

Oneworld Alliance

With the oneworld alliance you have a selection of more than 1,000 destinations in 160 countries. You can fly on any combination of the airline partners, but you have to stick to the ground rules, and there are many depending on the type of fare you choose and by continents (oneworld Explorer) or by the distance traveled (Global Explorer). You can always make changes, but be aware that change fees may apply. Here are the details of both fare structures:

  • oneworld Explorer:
  • Itinerary can only have a maximum of 16 segments
  • Maximum duration of the trip is 12 months and must be booked at least eight days before the departure date
  • There must be at least ten days between your first and last international sector
  • Your journey must include at least three continents and only have one intercontinental departure and arrival on each continent
  • You can only go in one direction–usually east or west
  • Once you get back to the city you started in, your journey is over
  • The Atlantic and Pacific oceans can only be crossed once each during the trip
  • Two stopovers of greater than 24 hours permitted in the continent of origin
  • Only one stopover is permitted in each direction within the country of origin
  • You can only make an extra stop if it is less than 24 hours
  • You may have only one intercontinental departure and arrival in each continent
With the oneworld alliance you can choose from more than 1,000 destinations in 160 countries

Once you’ve picked your itinerary using the booking tool, you’ll get a price if you’ve not made any errors. The system gives you error messages if you’ve not adhered to the rules listed above and also an opportunity to correct them. I did a 14-segment trip and the cost was $6,160. During the booking process, you are also given an opportunity to enter the frequent flyer number program you wish to accrue mileage credit in.  You will also get travel privileges (upgrades, lounge access, etc.) based on this membership.

Start your booking at this page.

The Global Explorer has typically the same rules as the oneworld Explorer except that it is mileage and cabin of service based. Your pricing is based on four preset mileage categories as well as the cabin of service and you are charged accordingly. Plus, if you may choose to fly in Premium Economy class if you are flying on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines (between Asia and North America only) and Qantas. Your fare will be adjusted accordingly:

  • Up to 26,000 miles (economy class only)
  • Up to 29,000 miles (economy class only)
  • Up to 34,000 miles (economy, business or first class)
  • Up to 39,000 miles (economy class only)

Here are additional rules governing this program:

  • Global Explorer
    • In addition to the oneworld partners, you may also choose flights that are operated by the following carriers:
      • Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines and flights operated by Horizon Air, Bangkok Airways, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan, Jetstar Pacific, Meridiana, Qantas code-share flights operated by Air Tahiti Nui and WestJet.
    • Your start date must be decided initially, but the rest of your dates once you’ve traveled to a country outside of your starting country can be set as you continue your trip. Just remember that your trip must be completed within a year from your start date.
    • It’s possible to make multiple stops within a continent as long as you don’t return to your city of origin. So just keep going within the continent.

You can find more information about the Global Explore option at this page. When you are ready to book, contact your favorite oneworld partner airline to book the Global Explorer.



Here you have a selection of more than 1,052 destinations in 177 countries (subject to change). Unlike the oneworld program, you can only fly partners that are members of the SkyTeam Alliance codeshare partners included.

The booking tool allows you to either give a list of cities and the system generates a routing for you or you can just create the routing you want. The system will then tell you if you broke any rules and help you to correct them so it can give you a price. A really neat and new feature is that you can tell the system the theme(s) of your trip and it will pick cities that matches. For example, you can pick any or all of beach, history, natural, wine or metropolis categories, then choose your origin city and your cabin of service and voila, you are given some cities to explore on your trip. It shows you the miles, the number of stopovers, the routing and the pricing. You can then edit the cities if you like or keep them and add dates and then choose your flights. This is a great option if you have no idea which countries have what for example.

With Skyteam you can choose from more than 1,052 destinations in 177 countries

Here are some rules to help you book your trip:

  • Itinerary should have between four and sixteen segments
  • Maximum duration of the trip is 12 months and must be booked at least eight days before the departure date
  • Must travel east or west and no backtracking
  • The distances traveled is anywhere from 26,000 to 38,000 miles
  • Fares can be booked in Economy, Business or First class; First class must be booked via the phone though. Fares would be between $4,492.80 to $8,208 depending on the mileage in Economy class. For Business class you are looking at $9,908.60 to $15,264.60. These fares are subject to change and currency fluctuations.
  • Must start and end in the same country
  • Can only cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans once
  • They are a little more lenient with change fees as there are none unless its to change the start date or do a reroute. There is a fee for cancellation and if you are requesting a refund though.
  • The world is divided into three areas and you must stop at least once in each area and can only cross once from Area 2 to Area 3:
    • Area 1: Caribbean, Central America, North America and South America
    • Area 2: Africa, Europe and the Middle East
    • Area 3: Asia, Australia, Russia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands

You have the option of picking the cities you want in the order you want or you can just pick the cities you want and let the system arrange your itinerary. Go to the SkyTeam Round the World Planner to book a round the trip and find all the rules at this page.

Star Alliance

Last, but by no means least, the largest alliance gives you 192 countries to choose from. This program is based on miles similar to the other programs in addition to the number of stopovers plus the country of trip origination. There are three types of fares:

  • The Normal Round the Word fare includes up to 29 000, 34 000 or 39 000 miles. 
  • The Special Economy Round the World fare includes up to 26 000 or 29 000 miles. 
  • The Special Business Round the World fare includes up to 26 000 miles.
Star Alliance gives you 192 countries to choose from

You can do a minimum of three and a maximum of 15 stopovers for each fare and they can be booked in your desired cabin of service including premium economy where applicable. There is a surcharge for some routes by select airlines. The booking engine will assess these charges whenever applicable. These are all listed in the terms and conditions at this page.

Here are some more rules for this special fare:

  • Itinerary should have a maximum of 16 segments or less
  • Maximum duration of the trip is 12 months except for Special Economy fares which is six months
  • You may book in economy, premium, business or first class
  • As you book you’ll get error messages sometimes and the segments just turn red which makes it difficult to figure out whats’s wrong. Check the rules of the program in order to know what is wrong.
  • There is a $20 service charge
  • Change fees do apply but only if doing a rerouting or changing a special fare booked in economy class
  • Cancellation fees do apply
  • Only Star Alliance airline partners are allowed for travel
  • Must book at least 72 hours before your departure date

My itinerary was about $8,190 for a 16-segment itinerary including the $20 service charge. The booking engine uses the rules of the program to help you book the trip correctly. For example, if you have 17 segments, you have to choose different flights in order to continue to the next step. They have a much needed FAQ to get you started before you make your booking at this page. Start your booking online here.

It is recommend that you research the fares for your trip so that you can maximize the itineraries as some fares allow you to fly around a continent for a bit and take advantage of that. Just remember that they all have a 16-segment maximum limit. So maybe if you want to do side trips, you can do so as long as you get back to where you need to be for your next segment.

Have fun and get out there and see the world using these round-the-world fares!

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