When to buy a RTW ticket

Kay O’Sullivan has advice for Alison who wants information on round-the-world fares.

When to buy a RTW ticket

In this week’s Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan has advice for Alison who wants information on round-the-world fares. 

Q. Alison
I’ve often heard it said that a round-the-world (RTW) ticket can be cheaper than booking several one-way fares when travelling to many different destinations. Is this really the case? And how easy is it to book a round-the-world ticket? Are there any common traps to avoid? I’ve tried to look online but can’t find a decent website to help my search.

A. According to Joanna Luke, the manager of Flight Centre's Round-The-World team, RTW fares are excellent value for money. “A lot of our basic RTW tickets are not that much more than a return Europe ticket,” she explains.

And they can be great value if you are flying at peak times, such as Christmas and school holidays, as RTW fares don’t fluctuate in the same manner as normal return fares and often are close to the same price year round. “On occasion we have even found lower fares,” says Joanna. Plus you get all those extra destinations into the bargain.

Another advantage to RTW fares is that you can mix and match cabin classes, which means you can fly business in one leg and economy in another. Something definitely worth remembering if you are doing an extra-long overnight leg on your journey.

Joanna says travellers need to be aware that if you are on a RTW ticket, you are only allowed to travel in one direction, i.e. you are not allowed to backtrack.

For example, Sydney – New York – Los Angeles and then to Europe is not allowed as you are backtracking from NYC to LAX to get to Europe. But Syd-LAX-NYC and then onto Europe is fine because you are flying in the same direction all the way.

She also says that travellers need to be aware that most RTW journeys have to be completed within 12 months, and some airlines, specifically with sale fares, will stipulate a six-month limit. “It’s best to double check that with your travel agent at the time of booking, says Flight Centre’s expert.


Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has worked for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.


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    Old Dog
    27th Jun 2015
    Many years ago I travelled for the best part of a year on a fare that was sold as a "Circle Pacific" (with a couple of side trips tacked on). I don't know if this is still offered, but then it was a great way to get to where I wanted to go. The same conditions that apply to RTW tickets i.e. one way travel, applied. The "circle" could go either way; Australia, Asia, North America or reverse. At the time it was a good deal; perhaps it still is.

    27th Jun 2015
    Also many years ago I bought a round Australia ticket. I think from memory you could get 10,000 miles for $900.
    Was living in Darwin at the time and was just outside the 10,000 miles so we bussed it down to Alice Springs and we flew to Perth, Melbourne, Hobart, back to Brisbane and then home to Darwin.

    This fare no longer exists and it would be great if it was re-introduced. There was a cheaper one as well for around 5,000 miles
    27th Jun 2015
    I booked RTW tickets (with a side-trip) in 2010 through Roundabout Travel (Australian based). The tickets were considerably cheaper than individual flights would have been but be aware that most RTW tickets have "gaps" e.g. we flew Brisbane to LA, had to make our own way to New York then continued to Munich etc. I highly recommend them for flexibility and if you fly east (as we did) it makes for shorter flying time as east bound flights are always faster than westbound flights. STA Travel are also a great choice for a variety of RTW packages. I'll probable be using them next.

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