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Last week, we went over the process of booking a round the world (RTW) ticket through airline alliances. In case you missed it, or need a quick refresher, you can read that post here. Today, we’ll be covering how you can book a RTW ticket through ticket brokers and low-cost carriers (LCCs).
While RTW tickets through alliances are the best way of booking flexible tickets, if you’re confident that you won’t need to make any adjustments to your travel dates, you may be able to get a better deal by booking your RTW ticket through a ticket broker specialized in RTW tickets.
Here are links to a couple ticket brokers specialized in RTW tickets:
The reason ticket brokers are able to save you money is because they mix and match flights from different airlines. To see how much money we could save by booking through a ticket broker rather than directly through an alliance, I requested a quote for the same itinerary as last week (New York – London – Paris – Madrid – Rome – Doha – Kuala Lumpur – Bangkok – Hanoi – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Los Angeles – New York) from Airtreks. The quote ended up being significantly less than the roughly $4,400 price tag Oneworld provided.
If we were to continue from this page, we would have to call AirTreks to complete the booking. However, if you're the type of person that likes to plan everything on your own, you could also use AirTreks' tool Indie which lets you pick out the flights yourself and complete the booking online.
Booking through ticket brokers comes with pros and cons. The biggest pro is the amount of both time spent researching itineraries and money you will save. Unlike alliances, they provide flexibility in routing — you can fly in any direction you want and there is no mileage limit. Moreover, ticket brokers are travel experts and will be able to give you guidance as you plan your itinerary — after requesting our quote, Airtreks recommended we add a stop in Singapore for no additional cost. However, the biggest con to booking through a ticket broker is that they won’t be able to provide the same flexibility in changing your travel dates as alliances do. Also, by mixing and matching flights from different airlines, you won’t be able to earn airline elite status as quickly.
Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs)
Another method of booking your RTW ticket is through LCCs such as Ryan Air, Spirit and WOW Air. While Norwegian was thinking about starting one, there is no real alliance between any LCCs yet. This means that you won’t have a large route network to take advantage of and will need to book all flights individually.
What you’ll want to do is use a site such as Skyscanner to search for flights and then you’ll be directed the airline’s website to complete your booking. Since you'll be booking directly with the airline, you can earn 5x Membership Rewards per dollar spent by using the Platinum Card from American Express. Some ticket brokers include flights operated by LCCs in their itineraries, but these flights are typically cheapest when booked directly with the airline due to surcharges imposed onto the brokers.
While your ticket will most likely be a lot cheaper than the one offered by alliances and ticket brokers, you'll need to watch out for added fees such as for baggage and seat selection. Additionally, LCCs don’t offer the same onboard comfort or loyalty rewards programs as full-service carriers. If you choose to book your RTW ticket with LCCs, keep in mind that you’ll spend a lot of time searching for each individual flight and then researching the policies of each LCC airline.
For example, if we were going to book this one-way ticket from New York City to London with Norwegian for $150…
... We’d have to pay $65 per checked bag…
... $45 to reserve a seat...
… And cough up at least $50 for an onboard meal and beverage.
You'll need to make sure you carefully research all of the potential fees for each flight on your itinerary. If we stick to our original itinerary, our trip would come out to about $2,000 – not including any of the optional fees.
Here are some of the LCCs we may fly with our itinerary:
- Transatlantic portion: LEVEL, Norwegian, WOW Air
- Intra-Europe portion: easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling
- Intra-Asia portion: AirAsia, Scoot, Peach
- Domestic U.S. portion: Frontier, Spirit, Sun Country Airlines
Now that we've looked at three different ways to book RTW tickets, it's time to decide which strategy is right for you.
Book through an airline alliance if you...
- Need schedule flexibility
- Value elite status
- Want to earn a lot of redeemable miles with one airline
Book with a ticket broker if you...
- Want flexibility in your routing
- Are confident that you won’t need to make any adjustments to your travel dates
- Are pressed for time and want someone else to do the legwork
Book with LCCs if you...
- Are looking for the cheapest price (assuming you won't give in to the optional fees)
- Have the time to research and book each flight individually
- Don't mind tight seats
Have you tried booking a RTW ticket? Please share your experiences below!