Back in the spring we published a free downloadable report on the state of round the world (RTW) airfare around the world. The idea was to offer travelers a comprehensive report comparing the different options out there for RTW airfare – including the DIY model of buying one-way tickets to get yourself around the world.
Almost as soon as we were finished with the first edition, we began thinking about version two. We thought about what we learned from our research and writing of the first report, listened to feedback from you, our readers, and started researching this version.
There are some differences in this report, largely the introduction of specific search features and prices for round the world tickets from three different countries – the United States, the UK, and Australia. Instead of searching all the same companies for each departure point, like we did last time, we found companies in each country and worked with them, trying to simulate as best we could what a real search would look like.
Again we posed as customers to get the most accurate look at what you as travelers would experience when shopping for a RTW ticket. We also came up with two separate routes to search from each departure point – one a less complex, 6 flight RTW route with a few out of the way places (Reykjavik and Moscow) and one a more complex, 11 flight (plus 3 overland segments) RTW route with several out of the way places (Ushuaia, Sibu, and Ulan Bator).
The reason we chose to add these out of the way places to each route was to challenge each provider and see how they would respond. Some responded well and had no issues at all with the complex routes or destinations that aren’t usually seen on RTW tickets. Some companies fell flat and simply stopped responding when the route proved too difficult.
Another customer concern after the last report was released was the accuracy of the DIY method of buying one-way flights. We used Kayak to check prices for this method, and since Kayak serves as more of a flight search engine that uses other sites to actually book their flights, there were concerns that we weren’t clicking through all the way to get the most accurate price.
While we did indeed click through to the booking site in the first version, this time we took it a step further and recorded the initial price quoted on Kayak and the final price on the site where the ticket could actually be booked. The average difference turned out to be miniscule (a 3.65% difference between quoted price and final price).
The last main difference between this new, summer version of the report and the version we published in the spring is that we didn’t search directly with any of the airline alliances (oneworld, Star, and SkyTeam). There were a few reasons for this. First, we had difficulty dealing directly with the alliances last time and getting prices back on the routes we searched. Mainly this was because the routes we came up with didn’t adhere to their many rules and the customer service reps didn’t seem very knowledgeable with RTW routes.
Second, we learned that if, as a customer, you want to use the alliances (either because you have lots of miles you want to cash in or you want to earn lots of miles with a particular airline), it’s usually going to be easier to go through a travel agent who specializes in using the alliances. They have the expertise to fit your route within their stated rules, so we figured it would be easier to add more travel agents to the search in this version. But sometimes it’s apparent that a particular route simply can’t fit within those rules. The simpler the route, the better the chance of using one of the alliances.
So go ahead and download this new version of the report. After you read through it, we’d love to hear what you think. You can either leave a comment on this post or post your own review on the Around the World Airfare Report review page.