Video Sunday Reader Question: Where Would You Go On A Delta Round The World Ticket?

by on January 20, 2013 · 34 comments

in Delta, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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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.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 10.55.50 AM

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jamison

    africa of course!

  • Terry Linhart

    We’d go DTW – MNL – AKL – JNB – FLR – OSL – DTW

  • Phalphan

    Hey TPG. can u book a round the world to protect yourself but then cancel it later and get the miles back if delta doesn’t actually change redemptions negatively?

  • Vocal Art Studios

    Australia! Surprised you didn’t mention it TPG! Could be codeshare with Virgin Australia who have a terrific Y and J product from the USA

  • Brad Kaellner

    I would love to see a post about round the world tickets and destinations for minimizing taxes/fees/visa costs…

  • Josh_brooks

    I’ve done three of these and generally they are an awesome deal, but can take a lot of time to plan. You have to have flexibility and don’t be afraid to hang up on an agent that doesn’t know what they are doing, it will save you at least an hour each time.

    P.S. How are you planning to get into Saudi Arabia Brian? They don’t issue tourists visas, and the only other way I know how to get in is to spend big dollars with an “educational” group, or get a sham business visa.

  • Josh_brooks

    And taxes are remarkably low on these. On all three of my RTW (business class BTW), I never paid more than $200 in taxes total. Great value, and when Delta was giving out points like water, this was the best 280,000 miles you could spend! Most recent round the world was:
    JFK-Seoul-Sydney-Beijing (North Korea)-Mongolia-Moscow-Tehran-Rome-Libya-JFK

  • tassojunior

    Your point about jet lag is a perfect reason to always use “both-ocean” routing to Asia and Africa whenever possible. Lag headed west is minimal.

  • Jetting

    Just booked ORD-HKG-BOM-AMM-IST-LHR-ORD using OW Ticket – 180,000 in F (or C when no F). It’s a great deal and am really looking forward to the trip!

  • Jakegutman

    I agree with @josh_Brooks, how do you suggest getting into Saudi Arabia?

  • Dieuwer

    And how do you think you will be able to ticket an RTW award using Skymiles if partners such as AF/KL and KE either refuse to make awards available to DL or have lots of blackout dates..

  • Josh_brooks

    I’ve never had problems getting availability on Korean Air. I’ve always found the hardest part to book being the portion when you have to get back to America from Europe. That seems to be the hardest leg.

  • Josh_brooks

    And don’t forget that you can use certain hubs for “stopovers” that might not count against your stops. Cities like Moscow, Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai and Seoul can be fun for 24 hours or less.

  • Matt

    I’m happy to answer any questions about DL RTW award tickets. Been booking an honeymoon RTW award (business) for the past few months (2pax, obviously). Very difficult to find DL low award availability for 2 pax on the same flights.

    Unfortunately we’ve hit almost all of the China Airlines and Korean blackout dates. Serious pain. Caused us to use UA miles for several of our Asia segments.

    Still, we consider 280k for business to be a good deal.

    Our itinerary:

    1. *DL RTW* ORD-MSP-NRT (DL)
    3. *UA Miles* DPS-SIN-CTU-LXA (SQ/CA/CA)
    4. *UA Miles* LXA-CTU-BKK (CA/TG)
    5. *SPG via Airberlin Miles* BKK-MLE (PG)
    6. *Paid* MLE-CMB-BOM (EK/9W)
    7. *DL RTW* BOM-NBO (KQ)
    9. *Paid” LIM-CUZ-LIM (TA)
    10. *DL RTW* LIM-MEX-ORD (AM)

  • Matt

    Correction to #8. That’s KQ/AF

  • Matt

    I’d add <24hr destinations such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Narita.

  • Matt

    Korean air blackout dates are as follows:
    December 07, 2012 – January 6, 2013
    February 7, 2013 – February 12, 2013
    March 1, 2013 – March 3, 2013
    May 17, 2013 – June 30, 2013
    July 19, 2013 – August 25, 2013
    September 14, 2013 – September 23, 2013
    October 3, 2013
    October 5, 2013 – October 6, 2013
    December 7, 2013 – December 31, 2013


  • Matt

    V Australia is a good DL redemption partner but not a Skyteam airline, so can’t be booked on a RTW ticket (similar to Air Tahiti – same issue)

  • Matt

    … if you’re platinum you can get them back outside of 72hrs.

  • Oster Riz

    For really offbeat destinations, see the China Southern route map and destinations. Pyongyang may be somewhat problematic because of the no-backtracking rule, but you can venture across China to Urumqi and move on to Almaty, Tashkent, Islamabad, or Tehran. From one of these places you could pick up Saudia, Air France, or KLM and get to Africa. Using Kenya Airways (they have some tag-ons in West Africa), venture across Africa, Then pick up Delta at Lagos, Accra, Dakar, or Monrovia and cross the Atlantic. If you don’t mind a few extra paid flights (to avoid backtracking), then there are even more interesting possibilities using China Eastern. Using Dubai as a hub, take a side trip to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example. Speaking of route maps, check out Kenya Airways as they offer a number of flights from China like PEK-DXB, CAN-DXB, and CAN-BKK.

  • Dan

    TPG – A similar post on doing a OW ticket would be awesome! That is one of my “bucket lists” – take about 2 weeks, start west and return from the east (for 2)

  • Peter

    Great destination which I will follow. Do you check each segment availability 1st and call Delta agent to get it done?

  • Dennis

    Is there a maximum number of miles (38,000) that you are allowed to fly, or is it unlimited as long as you travel either east or westbound?

  • wolfbierbaum

    Do you think the RTW policy could change effective immediately or would it be effective 1/1/14 like the Medallion program? I was waiting for the right time to book these points but will book ASAP if it might disappear overnight.

  • Leelaurino

    Thank you for suggesting this post/video….
    i understand delta will change the date and time of your planned flights but not the destinations……
    so am i correct, to LOCK IN the miles at the 280k rate now, i must select my route and dates and I can change them later?

    no one at delta has much time to explain all this.

    have you ever read a blogger or writer who may ‘specialize’ on this topic? one of the long time magazine writers talked to me about his recent trip to use up his miles but the man (although a ‘mature’ person such as myself, was staying in 4 star hotels and doing hte trip quickly.

    that is not my ideas of the final bucket trip

  • thepointsguy

    Once you book, it will cost $150 for every change you make. But id recommend booking at 280k business sooner than later- it could change at any moment

  • Leelaurino

    i will do that and hope i dont make too many changes.
    you had some good suggestions about airlines i have not considered….

  • Matt

    Planning Biz RTW departing Feb 2014 and traveling thru Jul 2014 (SEA-SYD-SGN-SVO-NBO-AMS-EZE-SEA). Given the 331 day limit, will I need to wait until I’m 331 days out from the final leg, or can I start booking when I’m that far out from the first leg?

  • shay peleg

    Is there anyway to go from new york to tlv to icn to japan to holland and back to the states with an around the world ticket?

  • AnthonyHaney

    No; you have to start in one direction and continue going. You’d have to do the reverse order, or rearrange to do NYC-AMS-TLV-HND

  • AnthonyHaney

    FYI, it was 280k in 2008 when I tried last, and 280k when I booked this year… it seems to be the one and only thing that Delta hasn’t touched… Based on my experience, there are only 15 people who work the desk for RTW Award tickets, and like anywhere, if you get someone good on the line, it will make all the difference

  • John

    We recently book a RTW using Skymiles (business class). The greatest difficulty is the lack of available seats. You have to wait until 331 days before your last leg and that is then less time from the first leg. Take out blackout dates and flight that have no available seats and it can be frustrating. And frankly, even though I was talking to the platinum desk, there was no flexibility and the attitude was “take it or leave it.” I have now burned my miles and will likely check out other programs.

  • TJ

    Is this still valid??

  • tj

    the round the world ticket…

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