Does a OneWorld Explorer ticket make sense?

May 30th, 2015, 06:43 AM
  #1  
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Does a OneWorld Explorer ticket make sense?

In the course of planning for possibly our first trip to Africa, I was introduced to the concept of a RTW ticket, namely the Oneworld Explorer, by Gardyloo (thank you Gardyloo!). I admittedly had very little prior knowledge of how these types of tickets worked and didn't think it would serve my interests, until now...

Thinking about my travels between November 2015 and August 2017, we are looking at:

Africa - April 2016
Japan and Australia - April / May 2017

In addition, we would like to spend a few days in Europe or South America in November 2015 and 2016 and / or August 2016. And depending on any leftover miles, we could easily fill them with domestic U.S. trips or segments on our longer trips (e.g. CPT-MQP/SZK/HDS, VFA/BBK/MUB-JNB, CNS-MEL/SYD).

Given that my travels exceed the one-year time limit, I'm soliciting feedback on whether or not any portion of all of this would make economic sense on a LONE ticket (I'm only considering economy class).

And I've been reading about potential benefits of starting the ticket in Japan or South Africa but are unclear about price differences.

My home airports are IAD/DCA/BWI although I frequently use PHL/JFK/LGA/EWR as well. I have Platinum status on AA, and am able to use AA or UA miles to position from Japan, South Africa, or someplace else.

Suggestions and advice welcome and appreciated. Thank you.
tripplanner001 is online now  
May 30th, 2015, 09:00 AM
  #2  
 
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As you know I'm a big fan of the Oneworld Explorer, but it doesn't always make sense as the go-to solution, so first I'd determine if it's the right product for you given your plans.

Because the OWE is priced according to how many continents you touch and not how many miles you fly, the value partly comes from your plans once you've reached some continent or another.

You're allowed a total of 16 flights, but limited to four flights per continent, except North America where you're allowed six (only one of which can be a transcontinental nonstop such as JFK-LAX, MIA-SFO, SEA-PHL, etc.) There are further limitations on long haul flights within Europe/Middle East from London, and transcontinental flights within Australia.

Prices for the tickets are very different depending on where they're bought and started/ended, and for the time being the very strong US dollar has made the tickets surprisingly affordable if bought and begun in countries where the local currency is weak against the USD. So the approach I take (and most leisure buyers of these tickets - a minority I'm told - ) is to start the ticket someplace "cheap" then return to the US (if that's where you live) and go back to work or whatever, then move on to the next destination or series of destinations before ending back where you began.

So getting back to your plans, much of the value of the ticket might come from your plans within N. America, during the periods between longhaul trips. A long weekend in the Caribbean or Central America? Alaska in the summer? The per-continent segments are basically "use 'em or lose 'em" - you can't roll them over to the next continent, and leaving any of the 16 available flights on the table means that the average cost of the remaining flights has gone up.

Let me address the pricing variations. Unfortunately, since most countries and the EU now require that advertising airfares has to include "inclusive" pricing, i.e. with taxes and fees included, it's made prices for RTW and similar products hard to find, because each itinerary is different, thus resulting in different airport taxes, or operator surcharges, or national extortion schemes like the UK's air passenger duty.

So all that's left is to look on the global distribution services (GDSs) like Sabre, where the airlines file their base fares, or a couple of services like KVS or Expert Flyer which skim or scrape or otherwise access these fares.

But to illustrate, let's take an economy (LONE) 4-continent fare, using US dollar conversions that are current as of today or yesterday. This is for the same ticket, but just with a different end/start point. Remember these are the BASE fares; the addition of taxes and fees will typically increase this price by 10-20 percent, sometimes more.

USA - $5299
Canada - $4251
Euro countries - $2729
UK - $3218
Egypt - $2485
Japan - $2981
Australia - $2992
South Africa - $1751

Now let's look at business class fares, same origin points:

USA - $10,799
Canada - $8664
Euro countries - $7663
UK - $9503
Egypt - $5786
Japan - $6296
Australia - $9210
South Africa - $4877

Now these are snapshot-in-time fares; Oneworld can and does change fares periodically (not all at once, more country-by-country) and of course currency fluctuations have a huge impact. But as you can see, starting the trip - in economy - in the Euro zone saves roughly half compared to the USA, or in South Africa 2/3. A 4-continent business class ticket bought in South Africa is less than an economy ticket bought in South Carolina.

---

Only you can determine if these products work for you and your plans. My approach has been to develop something like a 2- or 3-year "master plan" and see where paid v. award tickets come into play. Aside from the obvious differences in comfort levels, as an AA Plat you should also look at the benefits of business class in terms of mileage earning. With the class-of-service bonuses earned for business class (and first class within the USA) and your Plat 100% mileage bonus, it's very easy to earn well over 100,000 miles in the course of an ordinary 4-continent business class OWE. For economy (LONEx) itineraries you earn less, sometimes nothing for L-bucket bookings (e.g. on Cathay Pacific) so in doing your financial planning as part of any travel plans, don't discount the value of the miles you'd earn in the course of the trip.

For example, if your plans are to visit Japan and Australia in 2017, maybe the miles you'd earn in a 2015-2016 RTW could be used for that, rather than trying to pretzel it into an RTW ticket. Or, do what I've done over the past decade, do a business class RTW in year 1, then fly off the miles earned in year two, then repeat. Counting the mileage-redemption flights, it's worked out for me that a $5500 DONE4 started in Cape Town resulted in 20 or 22 business or first class flights over the next 24 months, with an average cost of $275 or so. Good for La Guardia to Miami, insanely good for JFK to Hong Kong.

Play around with the online "plan and book" function at Oneworld - https://rtw.oneworld.com/rtw/ - just to get a feel for pricing and routing options. Once you get the hang of it, you can do "what if" scenarios until you're exhausted. Pleasantly so, most likely.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 30th, 2015, 10:05 AM
  #3  
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Thanks so much, Gardyloo. Would you happen to have the LONE and DONE prices for 5 and 6 continents? I have not found a website that lists this info, although perhaps I haven't spent enough time on Flyertalk.
tripplanner001 is online now  
May 30th, 2015, 10:23 AM
  #4  
 
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Kind of tedious to pull them; in general in the cheaper countries the LONE fares bump around $400 - $500 per each additional continent, closer to $800+ in the more expensive countries. An LONE6 in the US is $7099 for example; in South Africa $2433.

The DONE fares bump around $800 - $1000 per continent in the cheaper countries, $1200 - $1500+ in the more expensive ones, e.g. in the US a DONE6 is $14,099, in South Africa $6662.

Using the booking tool on Oneworld, you can see the actual fares including taxes and fees right online (just don't put in your credit card until you're ready to shell out kilobucks) quite easily.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 30th, 2015, 11:03 AM
  #5  
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Thank you again Gardyloo. You may have me onto something...
tripplanner001 is online now  
May 31st, 2015, 02:18 PM
  #6  
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On the xONEx ticket do you have to book all your segments in advance or it could be as you go? And do folks know of a way to get around the BA YQ if JNB-IAD is the first segment (everything seems to go through LHR)?
tripplanner001 is online now  
May 31st, 2015, 03:06 PM
  #7  
 
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You have to book all the flights when you buy the ticket, but you can change dates for free later, or change any or all of the itinerary for a flat "re-issue" fee of $125. (Of course any itinerary changes have to comply with the fare rules. If you increase the number of continents, you'll pay the higher fare (based on the country of issue) but if you reduce the number of continents you're SOL.

BA and Qatar have a monopoly on departures from SA to Europe. And unfortunately the Oneworld tool has a bug that doesn't allow you to specify Qatar for the first segment. If you ticket through BA you'll get hammered throughout the ticket with BA YQ; the best bet is to communicate with American Airlines' general sales agent in Cape Town, Mindpearl Ltd., who can can issue the ticket with AA ticket numbers. That won't avoid BA YQ on the JNB-LHR segment, but will help in reducing YQ for the rest of the trip. The easiest way to avoid fuel surcharges on JNB-issued xONEx tickets is to depart JNB on Cathay Pacific to HKG. CX doesn't levy fuel fines at the level that BA and Qantas do for departures to LHR or SYD respectively. On a DONEx this can easily present a savings of over $1000. Frankly, it's wise to price compare JNB departures with CAI departures using Royal Jordanian (same basic itinerary, just different start/end points.) Sometimes the more expensive CAI origin ends up costing the same as the cheaper JNB ones, after fees and taxes are added.

You could also see if Mindpearl could do the first segments as JNB-xDOH-PHL, avoiding BA altogether.

Note that by transiting Europe on the way back from Joburg you will not be able to re-visit Europe anywhere else on the trip. That may be fine with you, but just a consideration.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 31st, 2015, 03:35 PM
  #8  
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Thanks again, Gardyloo. I thought one of the rules of the ticket was that you could transit from Africa through Europe to say, North America, as long as it's a layover and not a stopover, and then visit Europe on the way back to Africa. Is this incorrect?
tripplanner001 is online now  
May 31st, 2015, 05:19 PM
  #9  
 
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The rule you're referring to is only on itineraries that don't include South Africa, e.g. if you're originating or ending in Nairobi. The "second entry" rules have changed dramatically since Qatar joined the alliance. Best to download and refer to the actual rules - http://www.oneworld.com/documents/10...9-d346ec820edf
Gardyloo is online now  
May 31st, 2015, 05:48 PM
  #10  
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Thank you Gardyloo. You're a wealth of information.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 09:34 AM
  #11  
 
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We live in Portugal with nearest airport being Faro. We can use Lisbon but it is sometimes easier to go to London for international flights. We have family in London and do visit 3/4 times a year.

We are also planning RTW on Business Class but cannot work out the best logistical route and so we may have to do straightforward return flights. We are BA FFs and would prefer to use the OW Explorer.

Our plans are:
1. NYC, Kentucky, New Orleans, Philadelphia in April/May 2016
2. Singapore, Phuket, Bangkok in September 2016
3. Australia/Easter Island or India or Moscow/St Petersburg 2017

Gardyloo, can you help with best way of doing this if at all? Is it going to cost us more to return home after each tranch of the itinerary?
indibela is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:11 AM
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Well the tickets are only good for a year, so the question would arise as to when in 2017 you'd be planning to visit Australia/Easter Island/India/Russia if you'd be planning to link that/those trips with anything in 2016.

Speaking generally, RTW tickets are terrific for making long trips like Australia or Easter Island etc. more affordable, and somewhat less efficient for shorter itineraries, e.g. western Europe to Moscow, or even the USA. And since they require that you cross both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans going in the same direction, i.e. east to west or west to east, connecting the N. America trip in May to the SE Asia trip in September would be complicated unless you wanted to remain in N. America for several months before continuing to Asia westbound across the Pacific.

Pretty often you can find cheaper business class flights from Europe to North America in the spring and summer, so what I'd probably do is to exclude North America from any RTW itinerary and look for conventional tickets for the trip next spring.

Then I'd look at combining the SE Asia, Australia and Easter Island trips into an RTW that would start next year and hopefully last long enough to include your 2017 plans within the lifespan of the ticket.

For example, let's assume that by next September Japan is still a reasonably inexpensive place to start/end business class RTW tickets. You'd fly to Japan to start the ticket, then down to Singapore and Thailand, then home to Portugal. Then the following year, but before 12 months from the first flight have elapsed, travel to South America in order to access Easter Island, then across the South Pacific to Australia, and finally back to Japan to end the ticket. You probably would have earned enough Avios or points to cover the trip home from Japan at the end of things.

Something like this, maybe - http://tinyurl.com/pe9t5vo

Just throwing some ideas around.
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 12:32 PM
  #13  
 
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Thank you for your help. We too were finding it difficult to include North America in the mix. We will keep that as a separate trip and will try and work on the Australia/Far East idea.
indibela is offline  
Jan 18th, 2016, 05:17 AM
  #14  
 
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Hi Gardyloo

My husband and I are Still looking at RTW ideas and am coming to some decisions on where and when. As you you were so kind to respond to my previous enquiries, I wonder if you could help me clarify and finalise my itinerary. I do realise there will be some tooing and froing but am interested in looking at overall costings to compare with straightforward return fares and also trying to fit in four hols in one ticket. So the plan is:

Travelling Business or First. We are based in Portugal but can easily go back and forward to London. We have quite a few air miles and so can do one ways to return to London/Portugal

Starting from Cairo
1. June 2016 - Venice
2. September 2016 - Singapore, Easter Islands/Fiji, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia
3. January 2017 - Barbados or Caribbean
4. May 2017 - Kenya/South Africa

Will really appreciate your views and ideas on this.
indibela is offline  
Jan 18th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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Indebela,

Glad to see that you're still working on it.

There is indeed a lot of "to-ing and fro-ing" in particular the Caribbean trip in January 2017. RTW tickets require that you cross both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the same direction, so once you've returned to Portugal from, say, Philly in September, you can't use the RTW ticket to return to the other side of the Atlantic.

There are also some specific issues with your destinations when looking at conventional RTW tickets. First, if you want to go to Easter Island, the only alliance airline serving IPC is Lan, which is a Oneworld airline. However, Oneworld doesn't have any member airlines that serve Fiji, so putting both Fiji and Easter Island in the same itinerary is a non-starter.

Second, your list of destinations would likely exceed the maximum mileage allowances in any of the Star Alliance products, which cost much more in general than the Oneworld ones anyway, which means you're left with the Oneworld Explorer as the only usable product.

But if you're wanting to start in Egypt, which is in "Europe" for the purposes of Oneworld RTWs, and then end in Africa, that's not permitted as you'd have to transit Europe on the way there (from North America.) With very limited exceptions - which don't enter into your itinerary - you can't "re-enter" a continent once you've left it. You'd be leaving Europe at the outset if you start in Egypt, so coming back to Europe on your way to Africa would be no go. Hope that's not too confusing.

So my recommendation would be to look at your itinerary with the thought of starting and ending in Africa rather than Europe. That way you could return to Portugal from North America and lay over until you want to head south to Africa.

Here's an imaginary route that would hit some - not all - of your targets. You'd still have to pay for the Caribbean holiday separately (or pick some place in "Europe" that's sunny in January instead - maybe the Red Sea?) and I'd definitely do Venice on my own.

Here's an imaginary itinerary that starts and ends in South Africa - http://tinyurl.com/hdq8d53 . I've included Easter Island and also Israel (but could be Jordan) for the "mid-winter sun and sand" destination. I've also included Mauritius on the way back to Joburg at the end of the trip. This would be a five-continent Oneworld Explorer, with a base fare today of around USD$4500 plus probably another $1000 in taxes and fees.

Like I said, imaginary, but maybe it helps illustrate some routing options and restrictions.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 28th, 2016, 01:31 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Thanks Gardyloo for all your help.

We are now slowly able to use the One world route planner but do find ourselves at a loss sometimes.

Please could you let us know what you think of the itinerary below and if can see any glaring mistakes and what we can add/subtract from it.

Joburg-Delhi-Singapore-Honolulu-SFO-NYC-LON-Joburg

This should give us India, Far East, New York and an African Safari after we return to London/Portugal. Unless we can return home from Delhi or Singapore as well.

We are looking at travelling First Class but does it make more sense to go Business?
indibela is offline  
Jan 28th, 2016, 07:42 AM
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Using Oneworld your route would be something like this - JNB-HKG-DEL-KUL-SIN-NRT-HNL-LAX-SFO-JFK-LHR-JNB - http://tinyurl.com/j9fus2e - since you can't fly straight from Africa to India with Oneworld. That's only 11 segments out of a possible 16, so you'd have the potential of adding three segments in North America or four within Europe, or some combination, if you wanted.

With the above route you'd only have first class available on five of the segments (HNL-LAX-SFO-JFK-LHR-JNB) and since business class tickets book into first class on HNL-LAX-SFO anyway (since business isn't offered on those) you'd be spending the extra money on just three flights, which in my view isn't worth it. It's your money of course.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 29th, 2016, 08:01 PM
  #18  
 
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Bokmarking
nygvic0326 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2016, 07:58 AM
  #19  
 
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Gardyloo...am looking at a RTW trip and have several questions. You have provided invaluable info in your posts. Very helpful.

My initial itinerary thoughts are these....I live in Memphis and would either buy or use miles for a MEM > JNB RT tix.

Starting in September or October I would fly MEM > JNB and from there start and would go Hong Kong - Narita - Sydney - Auckand - LAX - MEM, where I would arrive home and break up my trip, probably somewhere around late December or January.

Restarting in April, would go MEM - Lima (with transit thru an AA gateway thus adding a segment)- Rio De Jan - Madrid - St Pete - LHR - JNB.

I have put the itinerary in AA's flight scheduler but problem is I can do the 1st traunche thru January but wont let me investigate flight schedules for the back half thus not allowing me to see pricing. Any way around that pitfall ?? Othersie looking at at least May b4 later half itinerary can be priced.

Your thoughts ??
nygvic0326 is offline  
Jan 30th, 2016, 08:17 AM
  #20  
 
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Date changes are free, so just put "dummy" dates into the planner and once you're ticketed and the actual dates open for booking, you can change the dummies to actuals.
Gardyloo is online now  

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