RTW ticket – a warning for young players

Best to take the train
Best to take the train

We booked our round-the-world ticket with Star Alliance several months before we left. I find it hard to believe anyone would do otherwise with something so integral to a round-the-world trip. After some initial problems and issues with overcharging, I thought we were on track. Not quite so.

You see airlines will only take a booking a maximum of 11 months in advance. As we booked in July last year and planned a year of travel most of our legs fell outside that 11-month window. No problem, Star Alliance told us, we just make a series of provisional bookings and then you change them to the dates you really want as you get within 11 months. So we made the booking on their advice, on that basis. That had our itinerary going smoothly up until the flight to Warsaw and then everything else from then on being jammed into two days of flights.

But when I went to untangle this I was told it was going to cost us more. You see because the flights we’d jammed in to fall within the 11-month window were back-to-back they were treated as a single flight with no stopovers. When I went to separate them out as we wanted, and needed to make any sense, they became stopovers attracting fees from Star Alliance and additional taxes from each airport. The end results has been another $500 in costs.

So the advice to extract from this story is simple: if you’re booking a round the world ticket make sure you put a few days between each leg even if you are just stacking them up to fall within the booking window.

Star Alliance haven’t covered themselves in glory about the whole RTW booking. They hit a real low when they argued the toss with me about why the bookings were made back-to-back. At first they insisted that must have been the routing I really desired when I made the booking. With increasingly failing patience I pointed out that taking two young children on a non-stop, 60-hour itinerary – of London, Reykjavik, Oslo, Dublin, New York, Montreal, Los Angeles, Sydney – when all we’d see is airports would indicate a degree of insanity that ought to result in my immediate hospitalisation.

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