As a qualified, professional travel consultant, I’ve helped lots of travellers find the best value way to fly round the world. Time and time again, there is one airfare ticket that consistently provides the best fares. It’s a Qantas Round The World fare and it works in conjunction with BA, American Airlines, LATAM in South America and Emirates. Knowing that is a good start but arming yourself with a little more knowledge can help you get the lowest airfares for circumnavigation. This ticket is a market leader and the only comparable competition for it is the Great Escapade ticket, which we also have a guide for.
Seasonality plays a big part on how these tickets are priced and would be the first port of call if you are looking to economise. The season you choose to leave on, dictates the base level of your airfare. Your departure date controls the base fare of the ticket, not the date that subsequent flights are on. Also, the base fare does not include taxes, surcharges and fees.
(Base fare pricing by departure date on Qantas RTW tickets 2017/18)
The secondary considerations are routing and number of stops. Then finally, it’s down to being able to get into the lowest booking class available for the ticket type. The best value seats on each plane are limited, regardless of if they are standard tickets or RTW fares, so bear in mind that busy planes are tricky to get on for low costs. There are around 8 booking classes in each economy cabin from advance saver O, S & M class fares to the highest, last-minute Y class fares intended for last minute business travellers.
In terms of routing, the best value RTW is London to New York on BA – overland yourself to L.A. – Fly L.A. to Sydney on Qantas – Sydney to Bangkok on Qantas – Bangkok to London on Emirates (or vice versa). This route minimises stops to reduce airport taxes and surcharges. With this ticket you can do a big trip featuring North America, Australia and Asia on a budget but you could add a couple more flights in N. America and Asia for just a little more in taxes (see rules pic below). Adding on New Zealand or South America will increase the costs due to added taxes and needing to upgrade the ticket level.
For a final consideration, give your agent flexibility. If you want to be in Australia for Christmas, tell the agent this is your goal but allow them flexibility, to get you in on the lowest booking class and best fare. I arrived into Australia in early December during my trip and avoided the Christmas rush, saving hundreds of pounds in the lowest booking class for round the world tickets which quickly sell out from mid-December on.
(Additional rules and routing guide)
Based on this trip and including all fees, this trip is available for £1550 ($2000 USD). That would be made up for around £803 base fare, taxes of £664 and a fee of somewhere around £100 for the travel agent to manage the booking. The base fare goes to the airline, the taxes go to the airports, on fuel and to the governments of the countries you are visiting. The travel agent gets a small fee for managing the booking, watching for time changes, changing your flights when you decide you want to stay somewhere longer (there may be additional fees) and giving you general customer service. This is considerably cheaper than comparable self-service RTW flights done through a search engine like Skyscanner.
Please note that the above example is an streamlined cost effective round the world ticket. The average economy itinerary costs between £1800-2400 GBP ($2300-3200 USD). From time-to-time auto-pricing fares can be even less when best priced in a travel agents GDS system – I don’t mean to be technical but leave a comment below if you have any questions.
We would also ask those planning to fly around the world, to try and be considerate to the environment too. You could do this by requesting to fly on more efficient aircraft or by picking the minimum number of flights possible. For more information, please see our guide of how to minimise your flight environmental impact here.
(Skyscanner compatible flights for length but not quite as high quality airlines as the Qantas RTW)
If you have any questions, please use the comments box or ‘ask me anything’ link on the bottom of the home page.
You can find our detailed guide to flying Air France over here.