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.
- Delta eliminated their generous round the world awards January 1.
- American offered fantastic distance-based awards that also doubled as round the world awards but those were eliminated without notice April 8 of last year.
- United’s have gotten much, much more expensive — 200,000 miles in economy; 350,000 in business; 450,000 in first class. Although there’s still some value considering they do not add fuel surcharges to 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’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.
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 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 Mileage Bank — a oneworld airline with partners outside oneworld like Emirates – has a distance-based award chart. You can transfer Starwood points to JAL.
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.
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.
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.
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.