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Tickets Archives

Could we, should we, change our plans?

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So far, we've avoided meeting any disasters during our travels, although we've had some near misses. It's been heartbreaking to watch the images of Christchurch this afternoon, and to think back on our drive by the cathedral and the city centre. We didn't spend much time there, but one rainy afternoon we did stop for supplies at a local warehouse-style supercenter. In the checkout aisle, where the People magazines would normally be in a U.S. Wal-Mart, sat a glossy book commemorating last year's earthquake. This one, although smaller in magnitude, struck closer to the heart of the city.

A different kind of upheaval, the political turmoil in the Middle East, raises questions for our upcoming plans. Our tickets currently take us from Thailand to India, India to London, and then London to Cairo. From there, we intended to make our way into Africa on local carriers, as the One World Alliance does not have a lot of intra-African flights. Given the situation there, and the fact that the State Department is recommending against travel to the region, we're wondering whether to proceed. I'm not even sure the extent to which OneWorld will allow us to change our flights: British Airways policies only cover flights before the end of March, and LAN's website has no information that I can find.

Any advice is welcome in the comments.

One more milestone

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After a considerable time on the phone with LAN, we have now purchased our round-the-world tickets.

Something I learned: you do not need to take advantage of the "Canadian exception" in order to arbitrage the difference in round-the-world ticket prices. So long as you are willing to purchase an e-ticket (and none of the airlines that I spoke to were particularly enthusiastic or willing to issue paper tickets with open dates), it seems that an e-ticket purchased online through the OneWorld Alliance website will be priced at the cost of the country of origin. [1] Thus, it is often possible to save money by "starting" the trip in another country (in our case, Ecuador), and then booking a separate flight from the U.S. This is particularly true in our case, as the OneWorld Explorer is priced by the number of continents visited. Technically, we are not visiting North America on the "round the world" section of the trip.

If you are looking for more information on round-the-world travel, you could do a lot worse than signing up for the FlyerTalk bulletin boards, where there are a lot of very helpful and experienced travelers willing to answer questions from newbies.

[1] This may still be due to the "Canadian exception," as the booking agent listed on the online reservation is located in Vancouver.

Based my admittedly non-extensive research, there appear to be three main ways to ticket a round-the-world trip:

  • The first is to book tickets as one goes, taking advantage of the skills of local travel agents, trusting on one's ability to obtain visas, and generally being willing to be flexible. This method appears to be heavily endorsed by Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, and I can see its attractions, but I believe that had we tried this method the uncertainty and risk would have quickly driven me mad.
  • The next option is to contact a round-the-world specialist travel agent, such as Airtreks or Air Brokers. This approach is favored by the author of The Practical Nomad. We looked at these, largely because I was attracted to the idea of having an experienced agent who had a vested interest looking out for us as we traveled, and to whom we could send questions. But these operations did not seem to be price competitive for the trip that we wanted to take.
  • So in the end, we decided to try booking a RTW ticket with an airline alliance, in this case One World. Of the various options, they seem to have the best coverage in the southern hemisphere, and although their options in Africa are limited, this appears to get us most of the way around the world in one package.

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