My friend and I share a common obsession of rapid travel and the weeklong spring break that our university affords us next year is just enough time to squeeze in around the world trip.
Our routing takes us from New York to Seoul nonstop, open-jaw from Beijing and stopping over in Dubai with a six-hour layover in Bangkok, before continuing to Boston a few days later via a 12-hour layover in Zurich.
Around the world on 65,000 United miles
Our routing prices out to 65,000 miles roundtrip in coach, the usual going rate for a routing from the US to Asia. However, stopping over in Dubai instead of ending in the city meant that we avoided the 80,000 miles roundtrip price to the Middle East. This strategy is definitely a great way to maximize your miles if you were planning an around the world trip already. There are more quirks in the United search engine to price out lower mileage costs (like South Pacific and Australia), but the US to Asia routing is best for travel in one direction. The award rules of course also apply for business and first class tickets.
An awareness of the Star Alliance airline hubs, their routings, and where these cities are geographically located helped to construct the itinerary.
Wikipedia is a neat tool for identifying what airlines and destinations are served at each airport, while searching flight times via Google are useful for piecing together long layovers. An extra hint: searching on Google.com for domestic flights will yield a less-useful search result, useGoogle.co.uk instead.
An example Wikipedia page of Dubai International Airport (DXB)
Searching domestic flight times and carriers using Google.co.uk, not Google.com. Example: “flights from JFK to SFO”
The same search, “flights from JFK to SFO,” but using Google.com not Google.co.uk
Extending your trip using Avios and Fifth Freedom Routes
While this strategy does take you around the world, you are limited to only a handful of destinations. The best way to make sure that you see more cities along your route is to stretch the distance of the cities between your open jaw portion. For example, I booked Seoul and Beijing as my open jaw cities, but you can go as far as Tokyo and Singapore for your open jaw ticket, as long as you stay within the Asian region. I also prefer connecting hubs for open jaw cities so that you can jump around the region with other miles such as the distance-based British Airways Avios. Avios points are great in Asia and the Middle East, with OneWorld partners like Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Malayasia Airlines, and soon Qatar Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines.
The cost of an “around-the-world ticket” in miles and the actual cost!
Another route that you could take using 65,000 miles in coach
For those of you wondering how to plug it into the search engine
A combination of flying on a few low-cost carriers and Avios in the Asian region can really further extend the value of your around the world ticket.
Fifth freedom routes also play an integral role in shaping this around the world strategy. For example, Qatar Airways flies between the near-monopoly route of Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. Cathay Pacific flies between Bangkok and Singapore, Singapore and Colombo, among others. Amol over at HackMyTrip does a fantastic job pulling together a comprehensive list of fifth freedom routes. These routes are especially great since they usually involve more premium style carriers.
Happy travels on your ticket!
— Geoff Whitmore