Little Known Round the World Awards You Can Redeem Your Miles For

John C. points me to this article on redeeming a round the world award ticket.

Generally you can fly on an airline and its alliance partners, making several stops, with the caveat that you have to fly literally around the world (crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans). It’s more expensive than a simple roundtrip award, but for the number of places you can visit it can be a strong value.

There are two kinds of round the world awards — the “distance-based award chart” where a program just charges you mileage based on how far you fly, and the true round the world with rules about crossing both oceans and usually always going in one same direction, either eastbound or westbound.

Unfortunately it’s not as easy or as lucrative as it used to be to redeem round the world awards.

There’s plenty of value in round the world awards if you know where to look. And the author of the article did pinpoint one of those places: Aeroplan. But they’re hardly limited to Aeroplan. So I thought I’d take a look at some of the international programs which offer round the world awards, whose points US frequent flyers have access to.

Aeroplan

Aeroplan’s round trip awards have long been ‘mini’ round the world awards allowing two stopovers in addition to destination and crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific on a US-Asia award.

But they also have a true round the world award as part of their reward chart.

  • Economy: 200,000 miles
  • Premium economy: 250,000 miles
  • Business: 300,000 miles
  • First Class: 400,000 miles

You’re permitted five stopovers and one open jaw. You can only stopover once in a given city. You have to start and end in the same country, though not necessarily the same city. When you do return to your country of origin you cannot overfly your city of origin. You must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean.

Aeroplan adds fuel surcharges to some but not all of their partners.

British Airways

British Airways awards are priced separately for each flight segment, based on distance. Premium cabins got a whole lot more expensive with the program’s devaluation in April.

For flights 2000 miles or longer, business class went from twice the price of coach to three times as much. And for all flights first class went from three times as much as coach to four times as much.

I haven’t booked one of these awards since the end of April program changes, but British Airways publishes distance-based awards for travel on multiple oneworld airlines. And those still list pricing as 2x for business class and 3x for first.

The Avios amount for reward flights in premium economy will be 1.5 times the Avios amount shown; for business class it will be 2 times, and for first class it will be 3 times.

Here’s economy pricing, you can do the math for premium cabins:

British Airways adds fuel surcharges to awards.

Korean Air

Korean Air Skypass – a Starwood and Chase transfer partner – offers Skyteam round the world awards.

  • Economy: 140,000 miles
  • Business: 220,000 miles

There’s no first class round the world award. Business can be a fantastic value.

Travel has to cross both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and must be in a continuous direction, either east or westbound.

Here are the rules.

The number of stopovers you get is a college level math problem:

Korean Air adds fuel surcharges to awards.

(Note: You can still use the old rules through September 20 only.)

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank — a oneworld airline with partners outside oneworld like Emirates – has a distance-based award chart. You can transfer Starwood points to JAL.

Singapore Airlines

Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines — a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Citibank, and Starwood — has round the world awards that allow you to visit up to 7 cities.

  • Economy: 180,000 miles
  • Business: 240,000 miles
  • First: 360,000 miles

Singapore adds fuel surcharges to award tickets.

Asiana

Star Alliance member Asiana — a Starwood transfer partner — eliminated their distance-based awards in favor of a region-based award chart. However, they still offer a round the world award. They offer it for economy and business but not for first class.

  • Economy: 140,000 miles
  • Business: 230,000 miles

You have to fly in one direction, cross both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and finish in the same country you start in (does not have to be the same city/airport though).

You do not have to go in a straight line though, you can fly from one city to another in ‘reverse direction’ as long as you do so only within an IATA region. You have to go in one direction moving from region to region, however.

The award permits Up to 7 stopovers (stops that last 24 hours or more) but no more than 2 stops in a single country.

Asiana adds fuel surcharges to award tickets.

Lufthansa

Star Alliance member Lufthansa’s Miles & More program – a Starwood transfer partner – has round the world awards.

  • Economy: 180,000 miles
  • Business: 325,000 miles
  • First: 480,000 miles

You can have a maximum of 10 flights and 7 stopovers, and must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The trip has a minimum length — it must be 10 days from the start of your first intercontinental flight to the start of your last one.

Lufthansa adds fuel surcharges to award tickets.

Cathay Pacific

oneworld member Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program – an American Express and Citibank transfer partner – offers distance-based multi-partner awards.

You need to fly at least 2 oneworld airlines that aren’t Cathay Pacific or Dragonair in your itinerary for this award chart to apply. You’re allowed up to “5 stopovers, two transfers and two open-jaws at either origin, en-route or turnaround point.”

Asia Miles adds fuel surcharges to award tickets.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Why waste text telling us about all the “great” options that no longer exist? Not useful information.

  2. Thanks for this post; it helped clear up some confusion for me after just recently booking a RTW trip with UA miles. I did it without any idea of HOW, so I booked 5 separate stopovers, going straight around. It cost less than 200,000 miles in economy and $207.03, and I’ll earn 3x miles on that because of my UA Select Visa, so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

  3. FWIW – Since last year, Aeroplan now has some pretty odd routing rules that are not completely defined anymore, so it is not as easy as it once was, and complex itineraries such as these – while still possible – may or may not price the way you would think they should price. There is a good thread at FT for Aeroplan that highlights what can be done. You can’t do these five stoppers online (website is total IT crap and can only show two stop routings) so you always have to call for these and incur a call fee (unlikely to get waived). Quality of AE agents varies, so if they give you grief HUACA.

  4. @Austin Adventures – I thought information that helps explain * why are people not as familiar with these as they might be? and * the general trend towards eliminating them or making them more expensive would be useful. It may be useful to some. And I didn’t see text as particularly scarce such that I was wasting it. In other words, the answer to your question is “seemed relevant to me — but your mileage may vary.”

  5. As a general rule, I assume there have to be saver-level rewards available in order to book at the rates quoted for round the world tickets?

  6. In 2009, I used a revenue site to book a RTW trip. It was ~ 1000 GBP, had to leave/return to London, and the forex made it about $2100 USD. Unlimited stopovers, but limited in useful routings, and it was distance based (~29k miles for lowest tier). For some reason they still exist but have stripped the site of the useful tool for devising a route. The carriers are Virgin Atlantic, Singapore, and Air New Zealand. HTH someone. http://www.thegreatescapade.com/

  7. Qantas have a similar product which can be the most cost effective use of their rewards points.

    Needing (saver) award space booked on two.oneworld airlines other than Qantas. Distance based with up to 5 stopovers with no actual need to fly “around the world”.

    Tables at the bottom this pagehttps://www.qantas.com.au/fflyer/dyn/flying/using-points-awards-upgrades#classic-flight-rewards

    More detail in this aussie frequent flyer thread:

    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.com.au/community/showthread.php?p=103956

  8. @Gary – Unlike many of your recent commenters I am not enraged by this post, in fact I think it is useful and informative. Part of the benefit of including information about booking or reward strategies that are no longer available is that it provides an update of strategies that may have been described in older postings on this blog or others, but have since been eliminated. It’s easy enough to do a web search and find a posting about an old strategy, but since the rules, fares and award charts change yearly (or become dynamic) it is useful to have a post that explains what used to be available and how that has changed. Knowing what has changed can prevent someone from going down a multi-day dead end.

    I have a somewhat related question though, I am currently intrigued with the idea of booking the OneWorld Circle Pacific or OneWorld Circle Atlantic tickets (with money) and I was trying to find a way to plan and price these tickets online rather than spending hours on the phone with an agent. I am looking for a tool similar to the OneWorld RTW pricing tool (https://rtw.oneworld.com/rtw/). Do you know of any way to do this? The only direction I found on the OneWorld site was to contact the airlines directly.

  9. @Another Steve most of what’s here is still available, I only mentioned at the top of the post what used to be available, but the point was to share what is possible now.

    I do not know any way to book a Circle Pacific fare online, ie other than calling an airline or a travel agent.

  10. I guarantee if you hadn’t mentioned what was taken away, the comments would say “what about American and Delta”… 🙂

  11. Can folks leave details on their past experiences with their RTW award bookings and how much taxes they paid for each leg/airline? I am very curious about booking a business RTW award with Singapore but am afraid of their tax/surcharges. Which airline program have you flown with during your RTW tour and any advice?

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