All three alliances (Star Alliance, SkyTeam, Oneworld) offer Round-the-World tickets. But what exactly are these tickets? Basically, you can select certain cities that you wish to travel to over at least 3 continents, and then pay a reduced price to literally fly around the world with any of the alliance’s airlines.
While reduced prices are nothing special for our Travel-Dealz readers, these tickets offer full flexibility, and that is what makes them exciting. We’ve taken a closer look at what exactly the three alliances are offering:
Conditions That Apply to all Alliances
While some alliances have specific rules concerning things, such as the maximum number of cities within a country, or different baggage allowances, there are some rules that are exactly the same for all three alliances:
- The journey must start and end in the same country.
- All flights need to be in the same direction (except within the same continent)
- Minimum 2 stops – maximum 15
- You need to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans exactly once
- Max. 1 year total trip duration
This is what they all offer in terms of flexibility:
- You can rebook the flights for free
- You can change the stopover cities for US$125 (~€107)
- The stay can be 3 days – 1 year long
The Star Alliance is the biggest alliance. Prominent airlines include: Air Canada, Air China, Air India, ANA, Asiana, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and THAI.
The Star Alliance has put the following extra conditions:
- Max. 3 stops per country (except USA: 5 stops)
- Max. 5 stops in Europe
Baggage allowance (minimum, some airlines allow more):
- Economy Class: 1 x 20kg
- Business Class: 2 pieces – total of 30kg
- First Class: 2 pieces – total of 40kg
Two Example Routings
Sadly, we cannot state specific prices, as the prices vary depending on the specific airports and countries that you select. Taxes and fees are different, so we’ve simply created two example itineraries that should give you a rough idea of what prices to expect:
Warsaw → Bangkok → Singapore → Tokyo → Los Angeles → Chicago → Toronto → London → Warsaw
Price: €2,952 in economy, €6,678 in business, €11,711 in first class.
Milan → Addis Ababa → Washington DC→ Bogotá → Panama City → San Francisco → Beijing → New Delhi → Istanbul → Copenhagen → Milan
Price: €3,915 in economy, €8,481 in business, €14,146 in first class.
Not only would buying all these flights as oneway flights sometimes cost more (especially in business class), as oneway flights tend to be quite expensive, but considering that these flights are also fully flexible and can be used on any date, even during the holidays, this does represent a good price, even if it sounds high at first.
SkyTeam is the youngest of the three alliances. The prominent airlines include: Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Korean Air, and Vietnam Airlines.
Unlike the other alliances, SkyTeam has a limit of 3 cities within the same country, even in the USA, and a limit of 3 stops in Scandinavia.
Only their baggage allowance differs:
- Economy Class: 1x 23kg
- Business Class: 2x 23kg
Two Example Routings
Paris → Ho-Chi-Minh City → Seoul → Seattle → Atlanta → Mexico City → Buenos Aires → Madrid → Paris
Price: €3,677 in economy, €7,397 in business class
Amsterdam → London → Detroit → Minneapolis → Portland → Tokyo → Bali → Singapore → Amsterdam
Price: €2,867 in economy, €6,627 in business class
Unlike the Star Alliance and Oneworld, SkyTeam does have fixed prices, which depend on the total traveled distance. That means that you should try to find nonstop connections, as every layover on the way will increase the total traveled distance, and thus might increase the price. It also means that adding further stops that still keep you inside the same category will not increase the price. Only airport taxes will be added to these fixed prices.
|Distance||Economy Class||Business Class|
|< 26,000 miles||€2,867||€6,627|
|26,000 – 29,000 miles||€3,677||€7,397|
|29,000 – 33,000 miles||€4,458||€8,682|
|33,000 – 38,000 miles||€5,134||€9,994|
Oneworld’s conditions are a bit more thorough than the other alliances. The basic conditions are similar, but there are more hidden details in the fine print. The main difference is that Oneworld differentiates between 6 continents, instead of 3, and that they limit the number of segments within a continent. E.g. you can only fly 4 segments within Asia, which in such a vast continent could limit your plans quite a bit.
Their baggage allowance:
- 2 x 23kg in all classes
Oneworld also offers a Global Explorer ticket, which calculates the price based on the distance and offers a wider selection of partner airlines, such as Aer Lingus, Bangkok Airways, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, and WestJet.
Two Example Routings
Just like the Star Alliance, Oneworld does not have fixed prices, so we hope that these two example routings will give you an idea of what prices to expect:
Dublin → Helsinki → Doha → Sydney → Dallas → Miami → Dublin
Price: €3,392 in economy, €8,101 in business, €14,059 in first class
Barcelona → Boston → Los Angeles → Hong Kong → Kuala Lumpur → London → Barcelona
Price: €2,563 in economy, €7,028 in business, €11,862 in first class
The round-the-world tickets are a great way to explore the planet with a maximum amount of flexibility. It is also a fantastic opportunity to fly with expensive airlines that we rarely see deals for, such as Korean Air, or ANA. While the prices seem high at first, booking these flights individually would cost far more, especially in business class. Booking first-class round-the-world tickets, however, is a waste of money, as most flights don’t have a first class, but you’ll be charged as if they did have one. If you wish to take these trips in either first class or premium economy, the best option is to upgrade the specific segments, where that class is available.
The conditions and prices are similar, except if you wish to travel to the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, where Oneworld will charge more. You should also keep in mind what alliance has a hub in the cities you wish to fly to, as selecting a more fitting alliance will save you some flights and layovers, meaning that you’ll save money. Here’s a summary of the main differences between the three alliances:
|Travel Class||Economy, Premium Economy, Business, First||Economy, Business||Economy, Business, First|
|Start-End||Same country||Same country||Same country|
|Ocean crossings||1 x Atlantic + 1 x Pacific||1 x Atlantic + 1 x Pacific||1 x Atlantic + 1 x Pacific|
|Duration||3 days – 1 year||3 days – 1 year||3 days – 1 year|
|Change Stopover City||US$125||US$125||US$125|
|Limitations||3 cities per country|
5 in USA & Europe
|3 cities per country|
3 cities in Scandinavia
|max. 4 segments in Africa, Asia, Europe+Middle East, South America, South West Pacific. max 6 segments in North America|
|Economy Class||1 x 20 kg||1 x 23 kg||2 x 23 kg|
|Business Class||2, total 30 kg||2 x 23 kg||2 x 23 kg|
|First Class||2, total 40 kg||–||2 x 23kg|
Yes, you definitively will! These are normal tickets that are issued in a specific booking class which will earn you a certain number of miles, depending on your program. The booking class can be seen in the alliances’ terms & conditions.
While rebooking is possible for free, canceling and getting a refund is a bit tougher. It varies a bit from alliance to alliance, but generally you won’t get back much of what you paid.
Some programs, such as Miles&More do offer that possibility, but not all of them. e.g. For SkyTeam, Aeromexico, Korean Air, and Vietnam Airlines are the only airlines that offer this.