How to book a round-the-world trip with miles – Forbes Advisor


We’ve all heard of these Magical Around the World (RTW) trips with stops on every continent. Today you visit museums in Europe. Next week you go on an African safari. And in a month, you’ll be sipping wine in Australia. As fun as these routes may sound, they aren’t the easiest to set up, especially using miles.

Some airline programs still offer official RTW redemptions to their members, such as All Nippon Airways Mileage Club, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. However, many programs have ruled out the possibility of creating such a quick trip on a single award ticket.

Even if you don’t have a large stash of miles with a program that still offers RTW routes, don’t be afraid to run out. It is possible, and perhaps even more feasible, to build your RAT route using several programs. And there’s no pressure to hit all seven continents – and the Moon, for good measure – in one trip.

Round the world tickets: defined

It may seem obvious, but a world tour should take you around the world. If you book an RTW award with an airline that still offers it, you will need to meet certain requirements. As a general rule, you are free to travel in any direction, east or west, you have to cross at least two oceans and make at least two stops. You must start and end the journey in the same country (or at least the same continent) and avoid going backwards. Each program will have slightly different rules.

However, booking an RTW award with multiple programs gives you a lot more flexibility. You will be able to fly from place to place as needed, you won’t necessarily have to start and end in the same country, and you won’t have to worry about backing up.

How to book a round-the-world trip using multiple rewards programs

With access to multiple airline rewards and programs, you have more options when booking flights to multiple destinations. Here’s how to do a simple round-the-world trip with different types of points and miles.

Stage 1: Salt Lake City to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles + $ 16 to $ 33

Let’s start your world tour in Sri Lanka, because why not. Assuming you live near Salt Lake City, your first stop will take you from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB). This one-way itinerary can be booked with 40,000 AAdvantage miles in economy class or 70,000 miles in business class plus $ 15.70 to $ 32.60 in taxes, depending on the airline you are traveling with.

AAdvantage Award fares from the 48 contiguous United States and Canada to the Indian subcontinent on Qatar Airways

The one-way flight can be operated by Oneworld partners American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways or a combination of carriers. If you are located elsewhere in the United States, you should find the same exchange rates from your originating city as long as there is availability.

Step 2: Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Istanbul, Turkey, for 34,000 Avianca LifeMiles + $ 120

For your second destination, let’s visit Turkey and book the next flight from Colombo (CMB) to Istanbul (IST) where you’ll want to eat a lifetime supply of doner kebab in just a few days. Turkish Airlines, a Star Alliance carrier, flies from Colombo to Istanbul via Malé, Maldives (MLE), where it makes a short technical stopover. (Some would stop here for a luxury trip to the Maldives, but we’re saving that for another day.)

You can complete this one-way route by exchanging 34,000 LifeMiles Avianca. Taxes are $ 120. Not cheap, but about half is attributed to Sri Lanka boarding tax and is unavoidable.

If you don’t have Avianca LifeMiles handy, you can transfer them from American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points accounts at a 1: 1 ratio.

Stage 3: Istanbul to Salt Lake City for 33,000 United MileagePlus Miles + $ 103.75

Now that you’ve secured the fun flights, all that’s left is to find your way home. Because this is another Star Alliance program, United MileagePlus miles can come to the rescue if you have to travel with Turkish Airlines. You should be able to find space from Istanbul to Salt Lake City, or another American city, on a mix of Turkish Airlines and United for 33,000 miles and $ 103.75. Taxes may be lower if you travel non-stop to European cities.

Even if you don’t accumulate United miles, Chase Ultimate rewards can be transferred to United MileagePlus at a 1: 1 ratio, so they’re not hard to earn.

How much would a similar trip cost if you paid cash

They say money is king, but if you spent that money to pay for a similar route with somewhat reasonable stopovers, you’d be around $ 3,700.

When all is said and done, you can redeem 107,000 points and about $ 240 in taxes and fuel surcharges and save that $ 3,738 for activities during your RAT trip. Granted, you don’t travel the world in a premium cabin as all flights are booked in economy class, but you can adjust the class of service by redeeming more miles.

What it’s like to book a round-the-world trip with just one program

As mentioned above, round the world award tickets are still possible when booked with certain programs. Let’s take a look at what a similar trip would cost in miles if you were to book it with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

The sample trip above covers 20,868 miles flown. This is important because Asia Miles determines the number of miles required for a flight based on the distance traveled.

If you book this round-the-world ticket in economy class via the Oneworld multi-operator award from Asia Miles, you will pay 115,000 Asia Miles. In this case, it is not much more than what the original ticket cost using miles from different programs.

However, the real advantages of using different airline programs are that you can travel with carriers that belong to multiple alliances, you can mix classes of service as you like and you don’t have to follow any rules. ‘restrictive route. In addition, the difference in the number of kilometers required is not always so close.

For someone looking for ways to keep cash costs as low as possible, mixing multiple rewards programs will do the trick. It’s also easier to earn miles in different programs.

How to earn enough rewards to build a similar trip

Go after the high welcome offers

It is common for credit cards to offer welcome bonuses. It is also relatively common for banks to offer time-limited offers on certain cards. It’s worth watching for the increase in offers before you apply for a card, or at least be aware of what the offers normally are. Since banks limit the number of cards you can apply for and how often you can receive a welcome bonus on a particular card or a whole family of cards, it is important to earn certain bonuses while they are. higher than usual.

No one wants to take out a credit card when the bonus is 30,000 points only to learn that the offer has increased to 60,000 points a week later. That said, if this does happen to you, be sure to contact the credit card company to see if they would honor the new offer.

Earn flexible points

Of course, it’s nice to see your airline mileage balance increase when you credit flights to a specific airline program. However, airline miles stuck in one place do little or no good for you when it comes to redeeming them, especially when a different airline program offers better connections and requires fewer miles.

The answer is to earn flex points which can be transferred to multiple airline programs. American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citibank ThankYou Points, and Chase Ultimate Rewards are all flexible points currencies. These programs are associated with a number of airlines and sometimes with hotel loyalty programs. This offers more choice when it comes to redeeming your points. You control how your rewards are used.

Learn how the programs work

This is probably the most important aspect of earning rewards: knowing how to redeem them correctly. With different rewards tables, application restrictions, and what might just as well sound like intergalactic lingo to a newbie, the rewards programs at first seem wizarding. However, once you’ve learned the basics, they’re not that intimidating.

Keep in mind, however, that effective results require you to get to work first. You are not going to be an all-star rewards booker by skipping practice. Look at the reward tables. Learn how to do basic rewards research and hone your skills by browsing multiple programs.

If you’re trying to book a complicated and expensive itinerary, an award reservation service will help you redeem your miles for a fee of around $ 200 per ticket. If you save tens of thousands of points by using a reservation service, the fee might be worth it.

Final result

A round-the-world itinerary does not require collecting hundreds of thousands of points. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate journey either. Pick two or three places you want to visit and compose an itinerary using the miles you have available.


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