Every Major US airline carrier belongs to an alliance of international carriers to offer seamless worldwide travel. United Airlines and US Airways belong to Star Alliance. American Airlines belongs to the Oneworld Alliance and Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines belong to the Skyteam Alliance.
Each alliance offers Around the World Award redemption where you must use more than one member airline, must travel in one continuous direction (east to west or west to east) and fly literally around the world.
Katy and I chose the Oneworld Alliance because of my participation in the American Airlines Aadvantage program, the numerous ways to add AA miles relatively cheaply, the lower mileage threshold for the award we were looking for, and the actual award rules from the Oneworld chart.
We chose the 20,000 to 25,000 frequent flier mile award in Business Class which costs 150,000 AA miles each. We were allowed to use up to 16 flight segments, have each overland break count as a segment and one year to complete our travels. When calculating the flight miles we only had to count “line of sight” miles so the starting point Traverse City, Michigan USA to the first stop Boston, MA was calculated as though a non stop flight. We actually had to fly TVC-ORD-BOS but the only were charged for TVC-BOS.
Our travels took us on the following routing:
TVC-ORD-BOS for son’s college graduation
BOS-SNN Shannon Ireland for a 4 day tour of the Ring of Kerry in western Ireland
KIR-STN Kerry Ireland-London Stansted on Ryanair (not part of the RTW)
STN-BGO Stanstead to Bergen Norway for the fjords on Norwegian Air
(not part of the RTW) 4 days for the Norway in a Nutshell tour.
BGO-STN-VCE Venice, Italy definitely a must see (not part of RTW)
VCE-BRU Brussels, Belgium a day stop as it was the cheapest way to get to
our next stop of London Heathrow (not part of the RTW)
NOTE: The three stops of Bergen, Venice and Brussels costs us about $300 each total using the European low cost carriers Ryanair and Norwegian Air.
LHR-HKG London Heathrow to Hong Kong in the upper deck of a British Airways 747 with lie flat bed seats and an overnight flight. PERFECT. Two days in Hong Kong
HKG-SYD Hong Kong to Sydney Australia on Qantas Airlines for two weeks in Australia. We visited Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
SYD-HNL Sydney to Honolulu again on Qantas where we transferred to Kauai and 4 days at the Kauai Hilton to rest up.
HNL-TVC Hawaii to Traverse City in First Class to end the adventure.
We spent 6 weeks, with two hostel stays in Killarney, Ireland and Katoomba New South Wales, Australia as the hotel rooms for points were not available or the room prices were too high. The other hotel stays were FREE from Sheraton Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton Hhonors, Marriott Rewards, Comfort Inn Choice Privileges and Radisson Goldpoints.
Would we do it again? Absolutely. In fact we have 700,000 American Airlines points saved up for the next RTW which will take us to Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls in South America, Stonehenge out side of London, Cape town, South Africa, Athens Greece and onward to Australia again, New Zealand and Hawaii as the resting place. The next RTW will take 190,000 AA miles each as the distance will be 30K to 35k miles again in Business Class.
Be sure to consider a trip of a lifetime using the alliance “Around the World” options