How We Booked Two Business Class Round-The-World tickets to 8 Countries for $1600
Updated: May 12, 2019
Traveling around the world can be expensive and a hassle if done the old conventional way. Airlines are wising up, knowing more people want to travel the world, so they are beginning to offer around the world tickets that are easy to book, but, are still expensive. On our quest to plan an around the world trip, Whitney and I agreed we wanted to minimize the cost as much as possible. Therefore, we started researching different ways to do so and found out you can travel around the world only using reward points gained from travel reward cards. That got us excited. Looking even further, we found Star Alliance’s website and liked what they had to offer. Read the following steps to see how we went through with booking our tickets, after gaining enough points.
Step 1: Determine which class you would like to fly in
Booking around the world travel tickets through Star Alliance’s network is separated into three classes. A ticket in economy class can be claimed for 180,000 points. A ticket in business class can be claimed for 240,000 points and a ticket in first class can be claimed for 360,000 points. Whitney and I decided it made more sense to wait it out until we received enough reward points for the business class tier, since it was only a 60,000 point difference from the economy to business. Traveling can be draining on long flights, so we agreed business class would allow us to stay somewhat refreshed and more comfortable.
Long haul flight from Peru to Egypt via stopover in Germany
Business class offers more room to stretch out and be comfortable
To reach our goal of obtaining 480,000 points for the both of us, we buckled down for the long haul. Gaining that many points in a short period of time was not feasible for us. It took Whitney and I roughly a year and a half to plan for this trip and to hoard enough points to use. Of course, what helped out a lot was stalking the sign-on bonuses for different reward travel cards as they fluctuated up and down.
Note: For more information on how we gained our reward points, see the following post The Road to 480,000 points.
Step 2: Use Star Alliance Online Network Booking Tool
Once we gained enough points for business class travel, we then used the star alliance online booking tool at https://www.staralliance.com/en/book-fly. Star alliance is one of the world’s largest global airline networks. Each individual airline has its limitations and do not fly everywhere in the world, so the alliance allows anyone to travel to almost every part of the world through their partnership. A list of the airlines can be seen below.
Star Alliance Airline Partnerships
This online tool allows you to plan out your trip while keeping you within their set rules (rules explained at the bottom of this post). If you break any of the rules, the online tool will automatically flag it and tell you the problem. The current example shows an error message for going over the 39,000 mile maximum. You will not book your trip through the online tool. It should only be used to set up your itinerary and ensure it does not break any rules. Once your itinerary clears with no errors, you can then send a copy to yourself to use later as a reference.
Error Message for going over 39,000 total mile allowance
Note: When using the tool, look at the visual route to ensure your travel plans make sense. Initially, we wrote down all of the places we wanted to go to with no consideration for how it flowed and the distance between those countries. We were receiving error messages left and right. Once we played with it for a while, we were good to go.
Step 3: Select one of the Star Alliance Partners
Once you get a good itinerary together that you like, you will then have to book your flight through one of the Star Alliance partners. We personally went through Singapore airlines, because we always liked their service, and they are a rewards transfer partner with all of the major travel credit cards that we use (that allows us to pool our points a lot faster across different reward cards).
To begin, we made a free membership account with their rewards program, KrisFlyer. Once completed, we then transferred all of our points across all of our travel cards to the account. Once we had 480,000 points, we called Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer points redemption department. You will then be connected with a call team member, that will stay with you throughout the booking process. It took us about 3 days back and forth to finalize a itinerary and release all of the business class seats. They may ask you to fill out a flight itinerary form, but, we simply told them we had an itinerary from Star Alliance's website and offered to send that instead of filling out their form. Once your itinerary ise sent, start discussing your route. You will need to be flexible. Some flights may be available on Star Alliance’s website, but may not be available when it comes time to book. Give the team some flexibility with your dates to be able to slide you into open spots.
Note: Redeeming points for economy class is a lot easier to accommodate any dates you want. There are less business class and first class seats on an aircraft, so naturally they will be harder to book.
Step 4: Managing your booking through the app
Once confirmed, the itinerary will be loaded onto your account and can be viewed in the Singapore airlines app. The app allowed us to see all of our flight legs In one location, with the flight numbers, arrival times and departure times. It also provided access to major books and magazines that could be downloaded through the app itself.
Upcoming flight information in Singapore Airline app
The following picture shows the top-level rules to abide by when creating your itinerary through the Star Alliance booking tool.
Top-level Round-the-World travel Star Alliance booking rules
Additional rules not mentioned above that needs to be adhered to includes..
Flyer must start and end in the same country ( that can be two different cities in the country i.e. start from Los Angeles and end in New York)
Maximum allowed total mileage is 39,000 miles
The total savings to book this travel was enormous! As can be seen below. after completing the itinerary through the online booking tool, our price for the trip if we paid out of pocket came out to be $23,161. Out of that price, we were made responsible for the surcharges and fees out of pocket. The service charge and fees came up to $2,563. This is when it is important to pick the right airline partner to book your travels for you. Singapore Airlines usually has low fees associated with traveling with them. Going through Singapore Airlines to book this same itinerary, we were quoted $1,645.74 to be exact, which saved us an additional $918 off of the price we were responsible to pay for. So by using points for this round the world itinerary, and not paying the $23,161 price tag, we saved a total of $21,516.
Price tag of what we would have had to pay for our itinerary around the world
Making the decision to fly business class comes with its additional perks. Many of the developed airlines have comfortable airport lounges around the world in many major airports. Those lounges are normally created in an effort to cater to the first class and business class travelers. Depending on which airline and which location, many of the lounges offer a range of amenities, some including light snacks to fully cooked meals, a small bar offering a few select drinks to a nice size full bar with a bartender. The list goes on (i.e. showers, family rooms, sleeping quarters etc.) with the redemption of the business class seats, you would then be entitled to enter any Star Alliance lounge as you travel from country to country, with sometimes long layovers. So look for lounges with the Star Alliance logo when you arrive at airports. Click here for an example of one of the best lounges we've seen thus far.
Lufthansa Business Lounge
As you can see, the rewards point system requires some work to accumulate, but once the points stack up, they can easily be used for travel vacations. We hope this post helped introduce you to the travel by rewards world. This is a top level overview. More information to come. Let us know if you have any specific questions we may be able to answer.