9 Important Questions to Ask When Buying an RTW Ticket (With Answers)

rtw-tripUpdated October 11, 2016

Purchasing a complex international or around the world plane ticket can be confusing. That’s why asking the right questions is so important.

Knowing the right questions to ask could save you money and time and get you a better and more efficient ticket, and by extension more satisfying trip overall.

So here’s a list of the most relevant and important questions to ask before booking around the world tickets from our talented staff of Personal Travel Consultants.

1. Are there any additional stopovers I could add for free or inexpensively?

This question could add a ton of value to your trip without adding cost. The fares we use at AirTreks often have multiple legs and therefore allow for stopovers in places where flights connect.

If your flight has a connection, chances are you’ll be able to stop there for little or no extra cost – sometimes a stopover can even save you money.

If you’re interested in maximizing the number of places you visit with a stopover, just let us know.

2. If I were to cut out one stop in my itinerary, which one would save me the most money?

This question could reduce the price of your ticket by a thousand dollars or more. Generally speaking, removing mileage flown is the best way to save money on your ticket price.

Leaving off long-haul flights between world regions, or ones that cross the equator (down to Australia/New Zealand and South Africa) will bring the most dramatic savings. Sometimes, though, dropping a stop on the way, or flying into a nearby city instead of a destination’s main airport will save you money too.

3. How can I find out if I need a visa or vaccinations for the places I’m visiting?

We’re happy to anecdotally advise our travelers about entry and transit visas, as well as any reciprocity fees you can expect to pay, and where to go to find out more from an official source. This is a topic where working with someone who has experience can really pay off.

But it’s important to note that apart from the Australian visa, AirTreks doesn’t issue visas in-house and it’s very important that you get the final word directly from the embassy before you travel. As expert travelers, we  really recommend that you find out about passport requirements, visas, and vaccinations before buying tickets.

Transit visas are sometimes required when making connections and you want to be sure that you’re aware of all of the rules. If you’re looking for someone who can take care of all of your visa applications for you, we recommend visahq.com.

For vaccinations, check out the traveler section of CDC.org. If you’re traveling with medicine, you should also double-check the entry requirements to make sure there are no special rules for the specific type of medicine you’re carrying.

4. Does my price include hotels, land arrangements or travel insurance? If not, how do I get those?

When you buy tickets from AirTreks, we purchase travel insurance to cover you in case of delays and cancellations. For more extensive coverage, here are a few additional insurance policies we offer.

When it comes to accommodations and tours, we’re happy to make recommendations for you based on our experience and your preferences. We partner very closely with an agency specializing in boutique hotels and eco-friendly excursions, so if that’s up your alley we can put you in touch with them during the planning process.

5. Can I accrue miles on my favorite FF program?

One thing many travelers are surprised to learn is that not every airline ticket will allow you to accrue 100% of the miles flown, even if you are flying on the same airline as the one with which you have a mileage account. This is especially true for partner airlines (i.e. Delta and Korean Air). Whether or not you can accrue miles, and at what rate, is dependent on the specific fare at the time the ticket is issued, as well as each carrier’s specific rules.

If earning miles on a particular carrier is essential for your travels, our best advice is to make this clear BEFORE you buy your tickets and to double check that the fare you are buying allows you to accrue miles the way you want.

Sometimes, if you want to earn 100% of miles flown, you may have to upgrade to a higher fare.

6. Do you have staff that can help if I need to make changes, or if there is a flight cancellation or emergency on my trip?

In our experience, having post-purchase support is essential when taking an extended international trip. Inevitably, airlines will change their schedules, there will be disruptions in flight service, or you’ll want to make changes to your tickets. Having someone available to assist you in such cases can make a huge difference when you’re on the road.

AirTreks has a fully staffed customer service department dedicated to helping our clients make changes, notifying them of schedule changes and helping them with ticketing emergencies. They can reissue, revalidate and make new bookings by email or phone, no matter where you are.

Remember: never buy tickets without a clear understanding of how to make changes and get advice after the purchase.

7. What airlines can you book?

Some online booking engines and agencies only book with certain airlines. This means they can’t take into account all of the airfare options for your destinations. Our experts will help you weight route, comfort, and price to decide on each segment on your round-the-world trip.

AirTreks can book flights on nearly all of the airlines operating in the world which means more choices for you. There are some countries that the US government does not allow us to do business with – we are not able to book Cubana Airlines (Cuba) or Air Koryo (North Korea), for example and we don’t book flights on carriers blacklisted by the European Union.

8. How do I get seat assignments?

Some airlines don’t allow for advance seat selection before check in, some do for free, and still others for a fee.  Sadly for travelers, seat booking fees are becoming increasingly more common, even for large groups and families traveling together.

When you’re in the process of purchasing tickets, it’s good to inquire about how your seats will be assigned. But because the airlines reserve the right to change their equipment on any flight up until departure, specific seat requests can never be guaranteed. Your agency should be able to either confirm seat requests for you or at least advise you on how to do so on your own.

AirTreks makes sure to assign seats for you whenever possible when we deliver your tickets. If you have a specific seat request, we’ll include that as a note on your reservations for the airlines whenever we can.

9. Will you notify me of airline schedule changes after my tickets have been purchased?

This is a crucial question to consider when purchasing tickets for an extended trip. Airlines can change their schedules as they see fit at any time, including canceling flights completely. Make sure you’re aware of how you’ll be informed of changes before purchasing your flights.

AirTreks has a dedicated team to help notify our clients of major schedule changes (those over 15 minutes) before, during and up to the very end of your trip. Our customer success team is here to help you get your trip back on track if airline changes interrupt your travel plans.

You don’t always have to accept airline changes either – sometimes there are options to rebook your flights on a different airline or route when schedule changes occur. Our experience working with these sorts of cases helps us negotiate the best option for you.

If you have any other questions about your RTW trip, feel free to call and ask us directly at  1-800-247-8735

Photo Credits: Senohrabek