One way tickets are always very expensive, so it’s a pain when our route involves them. Going RoundtheWorld (RTW) has many of these, but luckily the 3 major airline groups (Star Alliance, OneWorld & SkyTeam) have a great RTW product.
Recently, I had my first RoundtheWorld booking to make. My routing was Singapore-London-WashingtonDC-NY-San Francisco-Singapore, on (alas) Economy! This is what I found.
There are many RoundtheWorld rules and I mention only those I came across. I specify which group I encountered it for, but it may also apply for others. So watch out for what’s unsaid as it may apply.
- Minimum number of stops (3 for Star & Skyteam)
- A stop being a minimum of 24 hours between flights (Star & Sky)
- How many passengers per booking (Star has 5 adults and 6 kids)
- Need to complete the journey in 12 months (Sky)
- Sky required you to book a minimum of 7 days before the first flight. This needs to be said clearly, but is not.
- Sky needed a minimum of 10 days between departure and the last stop
Skyteam was the only one to be upfront with at least some of these .
RoundtheWorld bookings would always be complicated, so the process is key.
- For something like this, one would normally try 2 or 3 times before booking. SkyTeam didn’t allow you to reload an existing booking. Star & One World did, but One World was better as it let you save it with a name of your choice that you could remember. Star Alliance needed you to key in the multi digit complicated reference number.
- Both Star and One World priced the ticket in the currency of departure (normally where we live). SkyTeam asks you to choose USD or EUR and complicates it further by giving me prices in Singapore Dollars.
- Sequence. SkyTeam confused me by offering a choice of them deciding how to plan the trip. I didn’t know what that meant, but found that after specifying the cities you want to go to, they suggest a sequence. That didn’t work for me as t had to go from London to Washington DC and then NY. Their choice was London-NY-Washington. That probably made sense given the heavy London-NY flights, but wasn’t as per my desired sequence.
- Surface Options. StarAlliance/OneWorld allowed me to choose a “Surface” option where I would find my own way, as I was planning to do for Washington-NY. Skyteam did not.
- Star Alliance/ One World showed me when flights landed the next day (+1), Skyteam did not. Specially for flights across many time zones, this makes a big difference and I chose incorrect flights initially through Skyteam because of this.
- Sky was better only in specifying the number of miles accrued for the whole booking. Star/ One World did do so when I was selecting flights, but there was no total given at the end. If memory serves me right, it was 20-25K miles. Sky team had 22K.
- Visa: each site asked for personal and visa details. Skyteam allowed me to go to payment by just mentioning a US address, Star/One required more information. The latter is better
On this, my rating is 1. OneWorld 2. (barely) Star Alliance 3. SkyTeam
Convenience of Flights/ Cost
- Star Alliance/ OneWorld was able to give me direct flights for most sectors, but not Sky Team. So I would have spent a lot more time in the air with SkyTeam.
- The cost was One World SGD 6.8K, Star SGD 6.3k, Sky USD 4.4k. Converting all to USD, that is roughly One World 4.9K, Star 4.5K, Sky 4.4K
On this, my rating is 1. Star Alliance. 2 OneWorld. 3 SkyTeam
All 3 airline groups have a good Round the World product given the airlines who are members. Much cheaper than buying individual one way tickets.
My overall rating is 1. Star Alliance 2. One World 3. Skyteam.
Have you tried this option and what has your experience been?