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Around the world on air miles?

Blyth, United...
posts: 317
reviews: 13
Around the world on air miles?

Has anyone ever managed to book a round the world ticket using air miles?

Did you do it yourself through you airline loyalty programme or did you have to call them and organise it over the phone?

Was it easy enough to organise?

I have a heap of Avios (British Airways / One World) points and will have even more by this time next year so was considering a couple of business class round the world tickets with a few stop offs. Starting in London and then something along the lines of Miami, Memphis (wife is an Elvis fan), Las Vegas and/or San Francisco, Sydney, Singapore, Dubai and back to London. Probably over 3 to 4 weeks.

Also, potentially cruise between San Francisco or Los Angeles and Sydney so would not need this flight segment. Would we be able to miss this segment out but still do the itinerary on a round the world ticket?

UK
posts: 42,773
reviews: 89
1. Re: Around the world on air miles?

I am close to certain you cannot buy a RTW ticket 'proper' with Avios, you'd need to piece together the different legs individually, and I think it would be wildly optimistic that you will find availability for all those legs that coincides over a single 4 week time span. And it would use a LOT of points because you are buying each leg separately.

Look at first class for some legs to help ease availability, but even then in just a 4 week period, to have it all line up, would, IMO, be miraculous.

I'd also say that to cover all those places in 4 weeks AND a cruise is overambitious, you'll spend half your time on planes and at airports. Of course, since you would be booking separate flights, there is no concept of missing a segment out, there are no segments since you arent buying a 'proper' RTW.

I'd be much more inclined to pony up the money for this on a proper RTW, because I doubt its actually doable on Avios. You could try now, look about 9-10 months out, see what availability you can find,and how many miles that all adds up to.

Edited: 8:02 am, June 21, 2013
Edinburgh, United...
posts: 8,158
reviews: 15
2. Re: Around the world on air miles?

In theory you can piece together and book that yourself through the BAEC though if you're having trouble finding availability with partner airlines it can be worth a phonecall to double-check whether there is any. Be aware that availability can be extremely limited on some routes. Note also that you'll have to pay taxes and fees on the long-haul segments which usually makes economy tickets a poor use of value.

Blyth, United...
posts: 317
reviews: 13
3. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Thanks for that Joe, I did have doubts whether or not it would be possible which is why I posed the questions.

As for the time scale of the trip, it's all very tentative at the moment so could easily be extended depending on what we finally decide to do.

It's definitely going to be one of those once in a lifetime holidays so we want to fit in as much as possible and should be able to spend as much time as we want at each stopover. Probably only planning on something like 4 days in Miami, 2 days in Memphis, a week split between Las Vegas & San Francisco (or we may miss out Vegas altogether as we've been there before), approx 2 weeks for the cruise, a couple of days in Singapore and a couple of days in Dubai.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 9,523
reviews: 40
4. Re: Around the world on air miles?

There are things you can do the maximise your Avios and get something close to a RTW ticket, but I don't know any of the ins and outs beyond that inevitably you will probably need to be very flexible with your dates on each and every sector. There is a poster who has responded on this forum who seems to have a greater understanding of these matters named ibgardyloo. Perhaps he may drop in and comment.

Sounds like a fun challenge.

SWT

Blyth, United...
posts: 317
reviews: 13
5. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Hi SWT, hopefully ibgardyloo will comment as you say.

I'm sure we could be very flexible with most of our dates so long as we are in the right place at the right time for the cruise element. I'd like it to work out as it will be one hell of a holiday to remember but only time will tell.

If we are unable to get a RTW with Avios then I'm quite prepared to pay for some segments and use the Avios to get business or first class tickets others where available. I think flexibility will be key to getting this one organised.

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 9,523
reviews: 40
6. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Yes, flexibility is always key, both with regard to dates (within the bounds of your cruise plans), and also destinations. For example, for the USA west coast, BA fly to LAX, SFO, LAS and PHX. None of those airports are too far away, and each and every one of them can be linked either by a domestic flight, a car rental either for a fast as possible drive or a full and enjoyable road trip :-) and altho' that would involve a one way drive, if you visit us on the Road Trips forum, we can tell you, as a Brit, where to get fee free one way rentals from. Another general tip is to find out when school hols are not just for the UK but for where you're headed, as that will increase demand for leisure flights, too.

Also, from personal experience, you will likely find far more Avois availability, illogically perhaps, for business class seats that for basic economy ones on many flights. I guess fewer folk have enough Avois to splurge.

SWT

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 3,748
7. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Using Avios you will basically have to put together a point-to-point itinerary using eligible airlines. BAEC don't offer a "fixed-price" RTW award scheme (some airlines do) so you'll have to assemble a series of flights and "pay" the price (in Avios) for each one. So you don't need technically to go "around the world" - you could go to North America, then South America, then back to Europe, or whatever, without the need to travel in the same direction or cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, a feature of all "formal" RTW tickets.

The good news is that with nothing but a series of one-way flights, you're not constrained to have all the flights connect with each other, so you can fly into, say, Los Angeles, and fly out of, say, San Francisco, without having to worry about the LA > SF portion of the trip.

If it were me I'd start by putting a list of places you want to visit, work out some kind of logical order (remember seasonal and climate issues) and, using the Avios redemption tables on the BA website, see what the "cost" would be in points.

The point above about taxes and fuel surcharges is very valid - you might discover that actually purchasing a "bare bones" PAID RTW ticket - say one for 26,000 miles, the "cheapest" RTW ticket sold by the Oneworld partners - then using your Avios for "side" trips - might be the most cost effective approach. In general, in my experience Avios are not particularly good value on many long-haul flights, but pretty decent value on short-haul. So for example use the paid RTW ticket as a backbone to get you to, say, Sydney, then use Avios for internal flights within Oz/NZ where the "price" in points is relatively cheap.

Hope that makes sense.

Blyth, United...
posts: 317
reviews: 13
8. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Hi ibgardyloo,

Yeah that makes perfect sense. I'll have to look at the BA site when I have some time and try a few itineraries to see how they work out. I don't find the BA site particularly user friendly when it comes to searching for flights in other countries, usually get some message saying BA don't fly the route would you like to search partner airlines? Then when you say yes it comes up with either an error message or no availability. Not once have I ever found availability on a partner airline via the BA site, maybe just my luck?

Anyway, I've got plenty of time to play with this as we're not looking at starting this trip until around the 17th June 2014.

Thanks for taking the time to respond though, very much appreciated.

UK
posts: 42,773
reviews: 89
9. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Anyway, I've got plenty of time to play with this as we're not looking at starting this trip until around the 17th June 2014.

------------

Not as much as you might think, you need to be looking 10-11 months out for many of these routes as availability is limited, so you have about 3 months.

Edited: 4:39 pm, June 21, 2013
Madrid
posts: 2,732
reviews: 7
10. Re: Around the world on air miles?

Avios are rather poor value for a ticket in economy,but represent much better value in bisiness class.What you are trying to book is perfectly possible,if you have enough avios.

You may find LHR-MIA challenging in finding availability in J,but if you are flexible and look at LGW-MCO,or flights to TPA and ATL you might find it a little easier.Domestic flights in the USA on American usually have decent availability,and represent good value.

Seats LAX/SFO-SYD on Qantas are very difficult to find,but much better availability is found on Cathay Pacific LAX/SFO-HKG,or even ORD/JFK-HKG,then you can choose to route to Australia on CX,or stay in Asia.There is no Oneworld carrier that routes SIN-DXB,you would have to route SIN-HKG-DXB or SIN-KUL-DOH and drive.Singapore is rather fortress SQ,but of you exclude Australia,you can route around Asia,using Cathay, Malaysian or JAL

If you wanted to visit Aus,you will find the best availability from Asia,but avoid AUS-SIN v v as you are limited to BA or QF,and seats can be hard to find.Seats AUS-HKG/KUL with Cathay or Malaysian are easier to find..

There is usually good availability from Asia to Europe with BA/Cathay or Malaysian.