January 18, 2012

Star Alliance 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/ease of search, customer service, date flexibility, and route flexibility.

Below are the three routes and dates that we shopped:

Star Alliance is a collection of 27 airlines from around the world and offers RTW tickets bookable online or through any of its member airlines.

Price

We tried searching three different routes when pricing RTW plane tickets. Because of the terms and conditions involved with Star Alliance’s round the world fare, we were unable to obtain pricing for two of the routes we searched. The one route we were able to obtain pricing for was not very competitive with other companies. On average, Star Alliance’s price was 54.23% higher than the cheapest option. As a traveler, if you want to offset the high cost of their RTW fares, the only way to do is if you have miles built up from an airline in their alliance.

Search Options/Ease of Search

When searching online for a simple round the world route, it was quick, easy, and painless. If the route is not complicated, the entire process can be done online, and their Book and Fly tool is simple to navigate. As long as your route fits within their rules and regulations, you can get a price online. If you try to search a more complicated route; however, finding a price becomes more difficult. When trying to search a 13 leg trip (9 flights and 4 overland segments), it quickly swelled to 19 because of the connections. All connections are counted against their 16 segment limit. Because of this, Star Alliance was not able to provide us with a price for the two more complicated itineraries. If you don’t want to search using their online tool, the only other way of obtaining a price is to contact the reservation center of any of Star Alliance’s member airlines.

Customer Service

Even though we couldn’t obtain a price online for the two more complicated routes, we figured that inquiring further would be a good idea, so we sent a message via their online enquiry form. They informed us that if we needed further assistance to call one of their member airlines and gave us the number for Lufthansa. We pushed for more information from the Star customer service rep, asking if there’s any way to book a trip with more than 16 segments.

The rep was responsive, and here was the email she sent us about booking a trip with more than 16 segments:
“If you would like to purchase additional flights you have to book them separately. 16 segments are the maximum permitted amount within a Round the World ticket. Any additional flight you have to book through the operating carrier directly.”

Basically, this means that if you don’t adhere to the rules of service for Star Alliance, it’s not possible to book a trip with them. You would have to adjust the itinerary to fit within the rules. The rep was nice and responded in a timely manner, but didn’t seem interested in working with us directly and was quick to pass us off, despite the fact we were searching fares that cost upwards of $6000US.

Date Flexibility

Like other alliances, Star Alliance rates high for changing dates, which are generally free (it could be more difficult if you wait until the very last minute). If you book a Star Alliance RTW ticket, you have to book your first international flight, date and all, but after that it’s possible to leave the dates open.

Route Flexibility

The problem with route flexibility comes with its terms, rules, and regulations, which makes it difficult if you are looking to book a longer, more complicated RTW trip. On the plus side, Star Alliance does have the widest coverage compared to other alliances, particularly in Europe and Asia. As mentioned above, customers have a 16 segment limit, meaning you can only have 16 legs to your trip. Each flight or overland journey counts against that limit, connections included. For example, if flying from Los Angeles to Sydney you have to connect in Fiji, that will count as two segments. We had three separate routes we tried pricing – from an ultra simple, 4 leg hub city RTW trip to a long 18-segment trip. Because of the rules and regulations, when trying to go through Star, we were only able to price the first trip as the other’s didn’t fit into their rules.

It was difficult to use their online trip planner to obtain a price for a longer RTW trip, and Star Alliance couldn’t accommodate some legs of the proposed trips. Adding in a destination like Easter Island from Australia was really difficult as many of the flights go through the US, making for long flight times and adding more segments to their 16-segment limit.

If you really want to use Star Alliance for your RTW airfare, we would advise going through a travel agent as they can maneuver around many of the rules. If your RTW trip is a short, simple one, then doing it yourself is quite easy, though much more expensive than the cheapest option.

If you have used Star Alliance 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 2.6 star rating
Price 2 star rating
Customer Service 2 star rating
Date Flexibility 5 star rating
Route Flexibility 2 star rating
Search Options 2 star rating

2.6/5 -
based on 1 reviews

One Response to Star Alliance RTW Ticket Review

  1. says:

    Star Alliance RTW tickets are based on distance. If you are going to include lots of overland segments, you’re paying for distance that you aren’t flying. Paying for something and not using it is, quite frankly, a stupid use of a product.

    You might as well take a Ferrari off-road and review it for not performing well over rocks. It misrepresents the usefulness of the product and is totally useless to the reader.

    You’re expecting the product to be flexible, but not showing any flexibility yourself. If you want to go SFO-overland-LA, just buy a separate LAX-SFO one-way to get you back to SFO and continue from there. Not only does it remove the stupidity of paying for distance you’re not using, but it reduces the number of segments on the RTW.

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