preparation

Entry Info

21st (Sat)
Nov 2009

About the Round the World Ticket

photoAs I mentioned at the previous post, this is the story about the system of round the world tickets. Although it's easy to say “just google it!”, I'll summarise this topic in for reference purposes for the benefit of later posts. (The information bellow is personally collected by Satoshi Onoda. Please refer the official documents when you make a final judgement.)

Round the world tickets are special flight tickets from airline alliances. Their usage rules are a little bit complicated but by regarding them as a round the world game, it could be really enjoyable to plan. For now, I'd like to make a comparison between the tickets from oneworld and Star Alliance, both of which have Japanese airline companies as board members. (Incidentally, oneworld has two kinds of round the world tickets; oneworld Explorer with which you can fly by oneworld board member companies only and Global Explorer with which you can fly by board members and some none-oneworld companies. This time, oneworld Explorer was taken into consideration.)

Common Facts

  • You can make up to 15 stopovers in a year, in other words you can fly up to 16 times during the period.
    This number is counted by each flight code. For instance, providing you are flying to Sao Paulo from Narita, which is a very long distance trip, you have a couple of choices for routing. JL0048 which is a direct flight from Narita to Sao Paulo is counted as a single flight even though it actually makes a brief stop at New York. While the combination of JL5014 (from Narita to New York) and AA0951 (from New York to Sao Paulo) is counted as 2 flights although it follows the same route as the first one. Therefore, you should use direct flights as much as possible.
    Moreover, a course like Narita to Perth by airplane, Perth to Sydney by train which is organised by yourself and Perth to London by airplane is counted as three segments. So called "a surface section" which means a section you organise the transportation by yourself is permitted but it wastes your right for a flight.
    Besides these, there are restrictions on the minimum number of the flights and days of the trip but they are just meaningless for longtime travellers.
  • You must make a route which crosses the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean only one time each and returns to the original country. Besides you cannot go back to the continent which you have visited except for the return home.
    This makes a "round the world trip" horizontally. There are some differences about the prohibition of reverse trips between oneworld and Star Alliance.
  • You can book flights with open status with a fixed route.
    The departure date must be fixed but the others can remain open. Therefore, what you need do at the very first is decide the exact course and departure date. Besides with a certain amount of charge, you could make an amendment to the course as well. Nevertheless, leaving the flights open is not really recommended. Read the next section for the details.
  • Its booking class differs from the ones of full-fare bookings.
    There are special reservation classes for the round the world tickets and although there are availabilities for full-fare rates, the confirmation of the booking is not always guaranteed. Thus it is risky to keep the flights open and you should fix the date as soon as possible. Otherwise you should set tentative dates and modify them later as the schedule can be changed flexibly.
  • Its price is way cheaper than the total amount of individual flights.
    Despite this level of flexibility, their economy tickets are available from $US 3,000 approx. and even first is only about $US 12,000. Some taxes and charges will be added with the rate of the registration date though.

Features of oneworld's Round the World Ticket

  • Its price varies from the number of continents you will visit.
    You can choose from 4-6 continents and there are flat rates for other factors.
  • It has advantages in Australia, Central and South America.
    In spite of the fact that oneworld is actually smaller than Star Alliance, the leading airline companies of those areas Qantas(Australia), Lan(South America), and Mexicana(Mexico) are board members of oneworld and the rival is not as strong as them there.
  • Its rules are bit too complicated.
    As there are restrictions for reverse trips and maximum stops at each continent, you must literally study the rules.

The features of Star Alliance's ticket

  • Its price varies from the total distance of the flights.
    With the maximum plan you can fly up to 39,000 miles.
  • There are more destinations you can fly.
    In terms of the size and the number of daily flights, Star Alliance is more than double oneworld and consequently the number of destinations surpasses its rival.
  • Its rules are relatively simple and clear.
    Basically, you must comply with the mileage restriction and fundamental rules of the round the world ticket only. It's much easier than oneworld Explorer.

Phew, what a long summary! Did you read everything? Actually, I omitted a lot of tiny details but still there’s this much. You need to get used to the rules when you plan to travel with round the world tickets. For more information, there are very useful online planners at both of oneworld and Star Alliance's web site. Even if you don't have an actual plan for the trip it would be fun to think over your dream trip, wouldn't it?

And what I bought is,

All told, I bought oneworld Explorer 5 continents plan because it doesn't have the mileage restriction.
I have a primary condition of using first class flights and looked for the most suitable ticket. And as a matter of fact the number of flights which have first class seats is not really big. Most of the short and middle distance flights have business and economy class seats only and in this case I'll get an automatic downgrade even if I'm eligible to sit in a first class seat. That is to say, in order to take full advantage of the first class ticket, I should use long distance flights as often as possible.
However, the total number of miles would surge dramatically if I used so many long distance flights. For example, with only the single flight of Narita and Sao Paulo, which I pointed out before, taking more than 10,000 miles. Considering the fact that the maximum plan of Star Alliance allows me to fly 39,000 miles, the figure seems bit unreliable to complete the trip. Actually, there are more destinations available with Star Alliance but I'll use the flights to major cities and tour around the surrounding areas by independent travel. So it shouldn't be a big problem.

Generally speaking, I believe the business class tickets are the best to buy costwise. There is a huge gap between economy and business. It should be comfortable enough on the business class seats and lounges. You'll get more mileage and baggage space. I would definitely recommend getting business class seats for the round the world trip if I'm asked to give advice.
Nevertheless, for me who is fascinated by the catchy concept of the first class backpacker the price difference was almost nothing. The additional cost: $4,000; invaluable experiences: priceless.

Lastly, the route I fixed has more than 66,000 mile with 16 flights. As the diameter of the earth is about 24,000 miles, I'll fly almost three times round the world! I'll present this incredible course next time.

Entry Info

photoLast time I finished the entry in a roundabout way and as a matter of fact there is another purpose of the trip. It is not "to find girlfriends on each continent", of course.
In reality, I'm thinking of this trip as a period of training as a web designer. Unless I get along with an Arab oil tycoon or settle in Bangkok as a lifetime backpacker, I will probably work in the web design area again. And if it's possible I'd like to be a successful freelancer in Tokyo. In order to do so, I'm planning to make use of this blog as a portfolio for future jobs.

A blog as a portfolio

In general, blogs are ready made web template systems into which their users just need to put their writings and pictures. As you can see however, this site is designed from scratch though I followed some typical rules of normal blogs. Despite the total flexibility, this method challenges my skill in designing and coding. But this should be the best way to demonstrate my techniques as an experienced designer and developer.

So far, some friends have told me that this site is totally different from other Japanese blogs and I'm glad to hear comments like this. But anyway many pages are still under construction and I should keep on adding more contents. Incidentally, ExpressionEngine which is the core system of this blog is awaiting a major update at the beginning of December. Probably, I'll make a new structure with the new system before my departure on 31st December.

Contents is the King

In addition to being a professional web designer, I actually have business experience as a writer and photographer. Although I don't want declare myself as a professional in these two areas, I still have my own view of them. And during the trip, I'll keep up with both of them. It is often cited, 'Quantity makes quality'. I hope writing and photographing a lot brings me to the next level of my career.

In a manner of speaking, I'm working for myself and that is the toughest client who doesn't allow any compromises. Through this project, I'd like to make my own style which nobody else can follow.
Mind you, I don't forget the main purpose of my trip is simply enjoying it. Just I'd like to kill many birds with one stone as this is a great chance to pursue my interests whilst being freed from tedious daily business.

Well, this has been a long personal story. Next time, I'll write about the round the world tickets.

Entry Info

photoLast time, I started with talking about first class trips which should catch readers’ interests but the first priority of this trip is indeed “Round the World trip”. I’ve been thinking about this for years. Although some people advised me like “You are so young. You could work very hard for now and go everywhere after the retirement”, I guess it’s too late. Thinking about these two, “shouldn’t have done it” and “should’ve have done it”, the latter would be much more regretful, wouldn’t it? I’d like my twenties to be absolutely eventful and meaningful to my entire life. To do so, setting up the journey at this point won’t be a bad decision though it would be nice to go for a round the world cruising after the retirement.

Besides, there is a Japanese saying “Let your dear child travel” in other words, travel broadens your mind.

Real Intense Experiences

I believe travelling definitely helps you grow up. Drawing up detailed plans, interacting with other values at different countries, making a new friends from all over the world, maybe the allocated time at one place will be very short but with a keen awareness of the daily life, I’ll be able to enjoy wonderful time at each site. Actually, I don’t have any particular destinations such as a savanna at Africa or Champs Elysees at Paris. I just want to have real intense experiences which I wouldn’t find if I remained in Japan and broaden my capacity through this trip. This is the prime purpose of this trip.

And the phrase “real intense experience” connects the two words “first class” and “backpacker” which seem bit contradictory at the first sight. First class which treats you with absolute high standard services, and on the other hand, backpacking which forces you to do everything by yourself, even though these two travel styles differs from each other completely, both of them share the sheer pleasure of travelling. I’d rather go for extreme than settle for mediocrity and have ordinary trip. There will be much more fun.

Appreciate Diversities

To appreciate diversities, this is the point I have in my mind in these days. A full course at a three star restaurant and a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, each of them have its own tastes and I’d like to myself enjoy both.

Generally speaking, people who use first class flights don’t use dorm rooms, don’t they? But in fact cheap hostels are quite enjoyable. Besides, I’d rather prefer them than decent hotels because there are many exciting new encounters. As a solo traveler, I sometimes need someone to talk with and it’s easier to find suitable people who are in the same situation at hostels.

And generally speaking, people who use dorm rooms -I’m rather at this side- don’t use first class flights don’t they? Oh, to be precise, “can’t use”. As I posted the previous entry, the financial issue is not a big deal if you try earnestly. It really depends on the person’s mind. And I suppose stretching yourself is very important. Though it’s beyond my position, experiencing the higher world is the key to archive there. If I keep seeking to be there with the clear visual from the small experiences, I will eventually reach the place.

Best of the both worlds

First class and backpacking, I hope these two cause a sort of chemistry and bring real intense & rare experiences.
Well, these are the official reason of this trip and another one will be told at the next entry.

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