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TPG reader Keith wrote in this week with an interesting question that combines a passion for travel with one of the least-understood methods of using airline miles, around-the-world tickets. Here’s what he’s wondering:
“I am planning to do an around the world trip with some of my Delta miles. I am looking for advice on 6 places to visit on a trip like this and thought checking with someone as traveled as you would be a great start. I am looking for less mainstream locations – places that I would probably not take a trip to otherwise. The bigger the wow factor the better. Do you have any ideas? One of my goals with this trip is to hit the 6 main continents though that’s not a hard requirement.”
Delta announced earlier this week that they would be changing their Medallion program and haven’t yet mentioned if award redemptions will be affected, but my gut tells me its not going to be good, so if you have been longing to do a Delta Round-The-World trip now is the time.
First of all it’s only 180,000 SkyMiles for an economy round-the-world ticket, or 280,000 SkyMiles for one in business class. Personally, I think it’s a no brainer to spend the extra 100,000 miles to fly business class on the whole journey if you can swing it.
The basic rules of a Delta Round the World Ticket are:
- Travel must terminate in the country of origin without extending beyond the point of origin
- Backtracking is not permitted
- Flights operated by codeshare partners must permit local traffic between the stopover point and the destination.
- The most direct routing applies.
- A maximum of three stopovers per continent is allowed.
- A maximum of six stopovers is allowed for a Round-the-World Award.
So to parse that out, the flights must be in one direction (east to west or west to east), meaning you cannot back track your motions and fly from New York to Los Angeles then to London, for example. Personally, I would recommend heading west since I find jetlag to be much more tolerable when heading west, but you could choose to head east as well.
One possible trip I would plan would be to start in Los Angeles, and then fly on either Korean Air to Seoul or China Southern to Guangzhou to kick off a round-the-world trip and then head off to a lesser known destination like Burma or Vietnam (Vietnam Airlines has great award availability and Vietnam is a top destination on my must-see list for Southeast Asia).
After Asia, I would then head to the Middle East, which is possible now to new Skyteam addition, Saudi Airlines. Saudi Arabia is an offbeat destination and could be fascinating, and there is a lot of history to explore there. After my recent South African safari adventure, I think the next stop on my round-the-world itinerary would be to head to Kenya on Kenya Airways and to possibly take a side trip to Tanzania to see Mt. Kilimanjaro.
From Kenya, you have a choice. I love Amsterdam so you could do Europe, however, another option is to fly through Paris to Buenos Aires on Air France and check out South America. There’s a lot of exploring to do all throughout Argentina, especially now that Aerolineas Argentinas is now a member of SkyTeam- even down south to Ushaia and maybe even do a cruise to Antarctica.
From Argentina, you could look into flying AeroMexico to Mexico City since there is decent business class availability, it’s a city I’ve been meaning to explore for a while thanks to a burgeoning arts, design and culinary scene. From there you could head back to Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the U.S.
Safe travels and burn those SkyMiles before the program changes in the coming months! If you are interested in an Round-the-World ticket, I would love to hear where you plan to and stop along the way, so please comment below.