January 25, 2012

STA Travel RTW Ticket Review

We shopped prices for RTW plane tickets from eight different companies and rated each company based on five criteria – price, search options, customer service, date flexibility, and route flexibility.

Below are the three routes and dates that we shopped:

STA Travel can only offer their special pricing for students, teachers, and those under 26 years of age. RTW tickets are bookable through one of their agents.

Price

For the most part, STA Travel rated highly when it came to pricing, though their reps didn’t get back to us on two of the routes (more on that later). We searched three different routes leaving from three different cities (New York, London, and Sydney), and for the simplest, 4 flight hub route, STA Travel came in at 11.6% higher than the lowest rate leaving from New York, 19% higher from London, and they had the lowest rate leaving from Sydney. On the second, more complicated route (13 legs – 9 flights, 4 overland), STA Travel had the lowest price leaving from New York and came it at 12.13% higher than the lowest price leaving from London. They didn’t get back to us with a price leaving from Sydney. For the most complicated route, they again had the lowest prices leaving from both New York and Sydney, but they never gave us a quote leaving from London.

Search Options

We found the online booking tool a bit complicated with too many options. If a first-time traveler, which many students are, was trying to figure this trip planner out, we would guess that all the questions and pop-ups would be confusing and frustrating. If you find the trip planner frustrating like we did, then you can send in an enquiry using their Request a Round the World Flight Quote page. There are also chat options and a toll free phone number if you want to go either of those routes. If wanting to book from the UK or Australia, STA Travel has separate sites for their UK and Australian branches.

Customer Service

STA Travel’s USA branch did a great job on the customer service front. They were very responsive to our enquiries and follow up questions. We did have a few minor issues with the chat function. We tried using it and no one responded, but we also had good experiences with the chat function at other times. The reps we were in contact with were very helpful in working with us to obtain the lowest prices. They suggested several ways to change our trip around to make it even cheaper, which was nice.

We were able to obtain pricing from London and Sydney from their US branch for the simplest route, but when we tried to enquire about the two more complicated routes, they pointed us to their UK and Australian branches. We submitted trip itineraries through their email enquiries pages and received responses within a day, but then it went downhill. Both branches asked us follow up questions, but then they seemed to disappear for a while. We ended up receiving a quote from the UK branch on one of the routes 6 days after initially filling out the enquiry. We received a quote from the Australian branch on one of the itineraries as well, but 5 days after initial contact. We never received a quote from the other two routes.

Date Flexibility

Many of STA Travel’s Student Exclusive tickets offer special date change and refund rules just for students and youth. Ticket changes start at just $50, but you may be charged a fare difference if there is one. Each customer will have their own travel expert to work with, and the travel expert can help with any changes you may need to make after booking your ticket.

Route Flexibility

STA Travel didn’t seem to have many issues when obtaining a price on all three routes. The only issues they did have, which was common from other carriers, was getting from Sydney to Easter Island. The only way to do this was to fly to Santiago first, then get a round trip ticket from Santiago to Easter Island, which added about $1200 to the trip. For the most complicated route, the rep informed us that the flights to Fiji and the Cook Islands made the price significantly more expensive, but they could accommodate us if we wanted to go forward. They did provide us with a lower price if we chose to eliminate one of those destinations and also suggested different routing that would make more sense and be even cheaper.

If you have used STA Travel for your round the world trip, we want to hear from you. Comment below to share your experience, and click on the stars below the comment box to rate.

Ratings
Overall 3.6 star rating
Price 4 star rating
Customer Service 3 star rating
Date Flexibility 3 star rating
Route Flexibility 5 star rating
Search Options 3 star rating

3.6/5 -
based on 2 reviews

2 Responses to STA Travel RTW Ticket Review

  1. says:

    I think STA, like many other big companies have lost the personal service on which they based their business. We had an issue, which they acknowledged fault, but they had no interest in making good afterward. They actually suggested we went to ABTA, a small reasonable offer would have made the difference.

    They are like all, big companies. Just don’t believe the “we care” hype, it’s just marketing speak. When push comes to shove they are all about money.

  2. says:

    I used STA to book my RTW trip. I had limited time and didn’t want to frequently spend time during my trip looking for cheap flights for where to go next. Decided sorting it all out beforehand was more suitable for me.

    Applied for it online and they called me and handled everything over the phone. Frequent followup calls to check if I had any questions or route/date changes. I did go into a store to have a chat and pick up some brochures. Was nice but not necessary.

    All I had to do was give them the route and dates, tell them which ones were fixed or flexible, and they done the rest.

    They even came up with trip suggestions like 3 days in XY is not enough to see the place, my flight from Japan to Hong Kong, I could have a stop over in Shanghi and Auckland to LA, I could have a stop over in Fiji with no increase to flight costs. All I needed was the time and living expenses to take them up on their suggestions.

    On buying, they explained everything like what flights are flexible, which are non refundable, what countries need visas, etc

    I also compared the same route on other sites and agents (including Indie RTW travel, Star Alliance/ Oneworld/ Skyteam RTW tickets, Trailfinders) and STA were either cheaper or similar priced.

    If I done it a DIY route, I might have gotten it a little cheaper but with much more manual effort. Since my route was flexible to begin with, STA tweaked where and when I visit places to minimize cost vs travel time.

    Overall, it took about 2 months to get it completed. Largely my fault since I went on a 3 week vacation in between and during that, I changed all the dates and half the route. Once I told them, they were fine with it, reworked the dates and got it sorted.

    I think if I didn’t do that, 2 weeks would have been ample time to get it all sorted. If I were to do it again, I would still go with STA. Cost was good, they were very helpful, and minimal effort allowing me to sort out other stuff.

    Overall 4 star rating Price 4 star rating Customer Service 5 star rating
    Date Flexibility 4 star rating Route Flexibility 4 star rating Search Options 3 star rating

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