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:
- Shopping for RTW Plane Tickets – Route 1 Dates and Itineraries
- Shopping for RTW Plane Tickets – Route 2 Dates and Itineraries
- Shopping for RTW Plane Tickets – Route 3 Dates and Itineraries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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