Buying Airfare

July 9, 2015

What type of ticket do you buy?

Daniel and I are travel counselors. We have both been working in the industry for over 17 years. We also specialize in multi-stop, multi-continent airfare.
Although planning an itinerary, and booking flights is inherently complicated and does involve a lot of research to find the best deals, we understand how the system works, and thus have an advantage in this department.

The heated question is always what type of ticket do you buy? – a traditional around-the-world ticket as offered by the airlines, some form of multi-stop flight package, or plan as you go, buying one-way and round trip tickets as needed.

As airline experts, it is highly unlikely that we would buy an RTW ticket from the airlines (i.e. One World, Star Alliance, Skyteam). This is generally the most expensive choice, but can make sense for those partial to mileage accrual on a certain airline, or happen to have an itinerary that fits perfectly within the required structure and rules of these tickets. Through my years of planning these types of trips for my clients, I find that a mix of planning out the major long haul flights (i.e. a skeleton route), and buying some tickets, locally as you go, is the best method for both affordability and customization.

The key things to consider:

  •  Some countries require proof of onward travel. In some cases you will be denied boarding on a flight without this.
  • Having set flights and dates, is often requested on visa applications.

Once we have determined our needs based on the above, we can also determine which flights we should buy now for financial advantage.

  • Are there any discounted/free industry tickets that we can secure before we leave/quit our jobs? Should we update our IATA cards (official travel agent IDs) in order to secure further discounts?
  • Does our company have some discounted contracts which would suit a portion of our flights and should be purchased now?
  • What about combining multi-leg flights to take advantage of free stopovers in route?

How much of our itinerary are we ready to commit to?  

Once we understand which tickets we do NOT need in advance, vs. those that might cost less to buy now, we will be closer to buying our initial set of tickets.  There will likely be gaps in our itinerary, which should allow us some flexibility with planning our destinations and travel dates. There are certain places that we might know that we want to visit on specific dates – i.e. Christmas in Capetown India.  *We currently feel comfortable committing to the first 6 months of our trip, to everywhere but South/Central America, and have purchased all of our tickets up to arrival in India.  We plan to travel onward to South Africa and pit stop in Miami, but have time to wait and buy those legs once we are more sure of our dates.  Unless there is a discounted ticket we can apply to planning onward flights before we leave our jobs, or an entry requirement that necessitates proof of travel, I think we can safely wait to buy many legs of our journey.

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