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The truth about RTW plane tickets

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Trying to make sense of a round-the-world ticket is like trying to make sense of a map written in three languages. They're complicated. They're tricky to understand and more often than not, they're not always cheap as they appear to be. What they are is an incredible tool to help you get around the world. Here's what you need to know:

Don't assume they're cheap.


Tickets can be issued and are priced on either continent zones or mileage, with mileage being the most common way to ticket a flight. Tickets are issued on the distance in miles that you travel — usually in lots of 29,000; 34,000; or 39,000 air miles between your point of departure and arrival back home.

It's fairly common for people to do a surface sector as well: for example you may fly from Oz to Los Angeles . do a road trip to New York and catch a flight onwards from the Big Apple (to, say, London ). You're allowed to go overland on your ticket, but the distance counts in your accumulated miles, and also as one of your 16 coupons.

The curveball

Watch out for the curveball. known as Cuba . Due to US legislation and government restrictions you won't be able to fly into Cuba if you're ticketed to fly through the US or on a US carrier (like American Airlines ). However, there are some ways around this: back

when I did my RTW ticket, my travel agent was able to ticket me out of Cuba but not into the country.

My head hurts

Confused? Even your travel agent most likely will be. This is why your first step in finding the best RTW ticket is to shop around for a good travel agent to find the ticket that best suits your itinerary. In England there are a number of specialist operators but in Australia your best bet is ask around a number of different travel agents and find a savvy one who knows their stuff.

What to know once you're travelling

You still need to keep an eye on your ticket once you're away. Always cancel a sector if you are not going to use it — don't just assume you can skip a flight and fast-forward to the next one booked on the ticket. While you may be okay, some carriers will refuse to honour following flights if they are not taken in the sequence provided on the printed ticket.

If you're travelling in and out of places like Brazil . you may be expected to show that you have things like a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate when you arrive in your next port. There are some airport taxes you have to pay in person, and changing dates on your ticket is costly and often needs to be done direct with the carrier at their main office in an obscure part of town.

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