Round-the-World Airfare (RTW)

I used to travel around the world once a month. Now I only do so 4-6 times a year, though I still fly at least 200,000 miles a year overall.

An older post details how Round-the-World airfare works. Much of the post is still current, though some details such as the best place to originate from may have changed.

The post mentions these two tools, which I continue to use:

One of my recent RTW itineraries was booked on OneWorld. Beginning and ending in Johannesburg, it consisted of the following segments:


I’ve done many more, and with enough creativity yours can be even more interesting. Have fun!

By the way, a number of people have asked about Airtreks, which is owned by friends of mine. Airtreks isn’t quite the same as taking a RTW through an alliance. Instead, they are a travel agency (remember those?) that strings together a series of one-way tickets, essentially creating a DIY Round-the-World. I prefer the alliance-based products for my needs, but if you’re looking for something different (and sometimes cheaper), they’re worth a look.

Mistake Fares and Big Opportunities

Once in a while, an airline or hotel makes a mistake and prices tickets way too low. The mistake fare usually lasts only a brief period of time before being corrected. Most of the time (though not always) the airline or hotel will honor the original rate for those who booked during the glitch.

In addition to mistake fares, there are often big opportunities to earn miles by exploiting a loophole in an incentive structure. A few I’ve taken advantage of include:

  • Buying $6,000 worth of stickers, which turned into 800,000 (!) miles
  • Buying Vanilla Reloads ($100,000 worth!) from Office Max before the deal closed
  • Purchasing $500 Business Class flights from Malaysia to Vancouver
  • Getting a hair loss consultation at a doctor’s office for 20,000 SkyMiles
  • Purchasing dollar coins from the U.S. Mint ($60,000 worth) and returning them to the bank in a shopping cart

All of these deals are now over. But more deals happen all the time!

How to keep up: join the Travel Hacking Cartel (our paid service) or monitor daily.