View Full Version : Round-the-World options ex DUB
18th Feb 2012, 21:38
Some advice please from knowledgeable folk on tentative RTW flight plans for this winter - straddling the Christmas period. Due to a desire to see dispersed family members we are taking a trip from DUB to HKG, BNE and SFO, in that sequence. We intend to also fit in BNE-CHC-AKL-BNE as an add-on. Finally, as an option in breaking up a long trans-pacific flight we will consider stop-overs in NAN and/or HNL en route to SFO.
We are happy to pay for Premium Economy where/if available but business class is probably a bridge too far. Before making any commitments and finalising plans and dates I would appreciate some suggestions re suitable airlines or alliances for this type of trip. Is it best to stick within an alliance? or is it feasible to mix and match? Of course minimising exposure to UK APD would be financially attractive but I am also keen to keep away from the 2nd Division carriers.
Not having tried anything this elaborate before I would appreciate some pointers to get started.
19th Feb 2012, 02:53
Hi and welcome to the forum. The problem, as you have already discovered, is that there are way too many options!
Some of the questions that might need need to consider first are:
Do you have any airlines you DON'T want to travel with?
Do you have Frequent Flyer Miles to redeem / do you want to collect FFMs?
Have you looked at the RTWs oferred by all of the alliances? If you check OneWorld/Star/etc, they should have quotation pages.
If the trip is going to be over an extended period (say 8 weeks) then connections and through ticketing is of less importance
Are you staying with friends/family, or do you think that some of the alliances might have deals on hotels etc.?
With regards to Premium Economy (of which I am a great fan) when you have a short list of carriers, check their web sites to see if they have a PE option, most do not. However, the alliance sites with their 'book an RTW with us' normally only offer Y, C, F classes - even though some of their carriers have PE. So, again, you have to cast your net wide at this stage.
For the long Pacific sector, if you cannot find a carrier with PE (consider NZ from AKL to SFO or LAX) I would suggest EITHER breaking the journey in HNL or simply paying for Biz.
Apart from the Alliances - which DO have many advantages - take soundings from the usual suspects of web sites as you might find the routing you want - even if not the price! I like this (US centric) Hipmunk: Better Flight and Hotel Search (http://www.hipmunk.com/) as a way to find routings that are direct (without tech stop) or more interesting (with tech stop!).
Lastly, with the Alliances, perhaps visit each and note which carriers they have (big and small) and see how these match up with the ones that have PE? Yes, it's a lot of work to research but can be fun!
19th Feb 2012, 08:50
I always think it's worth talking to an EXPERT Travel Agent in cases like this. Trailfinders have a Dublin branch.
Question. Does New Zealand have to be a side trip? If you could continue from BNE to NZ then to SFO it might be more "efficient" fare wise.
Lastly, despite what I just said, here's an off the wall suggestion. The Air New Zealand round trip to Auckland allows stops in Hong Kong and on the west coast of the USA. A few years ago I went London/Hong Kong/Auckland/San Franciso drove the coast and then Los Angeles/London. So go to Auckland with your stop in HKG then buy a separate ticket a couple of days later back to Brisbane, come back to NZ and then continue across the Pacific. You could make your way from Auckland to Wellington before you fly to Brisbane and then fly back to somewhere on South Island to see the South, hop to Auckland and then pick up the San Francisco flight. You would have to find your own way from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Oh and car companies in New Zealand count all your days towards a cheaper hire so the fact that you might have a week then a break and another week should get you a 2 week rate. Try Apex. Actually they also included the cost of our ferry from Picton to Wellington "free". Air NZ is a good little airline - you might even want to consider their Business Class.
19th Feb 2012, 11:27
agree with hartington go speak to a travel agent. Trying myself to plan a trip to Oz and it is difficult to get the prices that the agent can get.
The options appear to be OneWorld and Star.
19th Feb 2012, 12:44
Air NZ do have PE class and are Star Alliance. They would certainly be a good place to start. When I plan a big trip, my main application is a spreadsheet. It is (natch) ideally suited to setting things in coloums and can handle time formats for both departure and arrival, as well as duration of sector.
Take your time and let us know your choices.
19th Feb 2012, 20:44
AirNZ also have their new Skycouch (http://www.airnewzealand.co.uk/economy-skycouch), which is 3 economy seats that convert into a flat bed. I haven't had a chance to try it, but it sounds good. (Currently only on 777s, which are currently on AKL-LAX-LHR and back - that might change by Xmas, but probably not). You pay for 3 seats for two of you (I'm assuming no accompanying minors), so comparable with PE.
21st Feb 2012, 22:17
Thanks for all comments. I agree there are many options but having my own prejudices helps in narrowing the field a little. I prefer to keep to the obvious "top ten" airlines and avoid the more colourful options.
I have waited a few days to do a little research before replying. The suggestions have been helpful in kicking off the process.
Naturally, as soon as I attempted to freeze the plans a few spanners were tossed in the works. However, the main outline of the RTW proposed still stands- DUB-HKG-BNE-AKL-SFO-DUB. The NZ side trip will now be in its proper sequence. Having saved on the reverse flights I may now take a short circular trip into China from HKG if I can develop a suitable itinerary over about 1 week in late November Ė weather constraints may limit what can be done at that time. Any suggestions on that aspect welcome.
Regarding some of the RTW comments/suggestions:
Use of an Expert Travel Agent: I quite agree and have used Trailfinders very happily in the past. I would like to have some ideas worked out and understood before talking to them in detail. In any case being a sad person I usually enjoy the planning process.
Air New Zealand as a carrier of choice: I am interested in this having heard good reports of them generally and also of their Premium Economy product. The seating arrangement used by them in PE looks quite novel per the Seatguru website.
New Zealand Options: This looks like we will now take it in its correct sequence without any side trip. Thanks Hartington for the tips. However, as we may now be on our own we could stick to North Island and limit our visit to a week or so. It will be a pity to miss out on South Island I am sure but a week is surely too short there and anyway I am past bungee jumping!.
Alliances and Routing: Star looks the preferred alliance given the typical routings proposed by the various booking engines. Oneworld in contrast seems keen on forcing me to travel via Madrid! The itinerary proposed by Star's engine looks sensible and seems to largely involve Air New Zealand flights. Presently it offers me DUB-LHR (BD), LHR-HKG (NZ), HKG-BNE via SIN (SQ, SQ), BNE-AKL (NZ), AKL-SFO (NZ) and SFO-DUB via FRA (LH, LH). Having considered a flight to LAX to pick up a NZ flight to LHR I was surprised to find that the system still wanted to route me via FRA. In fact when I pushed it and tried a LHR to LHR RTW via LAX it still wanted to finish with LH via FRA! There is something strange about this!. It looks like a travel agent will be necessary to tidy the routing up. Interestingly, the Star site did always offer the option of choosing PE where available.
I will report back when I finally commit to a definite itinerary but I donít expect to finalise until sometime in March.
Thanks to all for the friendly welcome and comments. They are much appreciated.
22nd Mar 2012, 19:51
I can recommend both the Star RTW and ANZ. Used both more than a few times. You probably saw Star RTW is done on miles and Oneworld RTW is done on sectors and continents. If you calculate your miles you can work out potential side trips from HK to use up the miles you have spare before you enter the next mileage bracket. Japan would be my side trip of personal choice out of HK.
Star are good at RTW, I have called my travel agent with an itinerary on the way to the airport and had the ticket issued by the time I was in the checkin queue. OW are not so quick as they have a validation process to check the fare rules that can take up to a day. Your agent should advise you which airline ticket stock it gets issued on, can't remember the rules about who, might be first carrier in the itinerary but worth asking as that is who will become involved if you have a refund or other money query.
The star calculator shouldn't force you via FRT - you may have it left in as a destination ? Selecting LAX should offer the ANZ-LHR option.
Used the OW calculator many times, never had the problem you describe?
It's worth a detailled look at the rules to optimise side trips. Hope this all helps
23rd Mar 2012, 10:44
While South Island has its' attractions I would not dismiss North Island. North of Auckland you can find some of the largest trees in the world, a beach called 90 mile (but it's only 60 miles long) that you can drive on and is actually a designated highway, the Bay of Islands which even though it's a bit of a tourist honey pot is beautiful and has historical significance too and finally a preserved steam railway running up the middle of a street.
East of Auckland is the Coromandel Peninsular. Again a bit of a tourist honey pot but there's a bird sancturay at Miranda on the way there and once on the peninsular there are beaches where you can dig your own hole in the sand to create your own hot bath. We avoided Rotorua and went to Taupo instead for hot springs and the like. If you want an almost perfect cone volcano go to New Plymouth for Mt Egmont. For a town built in 30s Art Deco style (well, rebuilt following a devasting earthquake) go to Napier. If you enjoy eating fish the local fish and chip bars are all pretty good and in Whakatane there's the Wharf Shed which is rather nice and continues to get good reviews.
If you do want to go to South Island remember that there are flights from Australia into Dunedin and Queenstown as well as Christchurch. The RTWs allow breaks in journey so if they don't offer a flight buy one of the local ones they can be surprisingly inexpensive. In South Island Dunedin has Albatross, Penguins, the only Castle in New Zealand and a tourist train ride into the hinterland. Then take a car south along the coast through the Catlins to Invercargill and go to Stewart Island and Ulva Island for a day or two.
24th Mar 2012, 19:14
Thanks to all for advice and it is much appreciated. Some of the touring suggestions are also of interest and will be explored further.
The final itinerary was dictated by family considerations and was a less adventurous one than initially aspired to (strike one to Mrs L). It wound up as DUB-LHR-HKG-AKL-BNE-AKL-SFO-LAX-LHR-DUB.
By far the best deal was dealing directly with Air NZ. Our well established and efficient travel agent tried hard but could not remotely match the Air NZ deal -almost 100% dearer in fact. We opted eventually for a 50:50 mix of PE and Business and it worked out a bit over STG6k. Trying the Star Alliance own website just did not work for us - possibly our location is penalising us. Anyway, the wanted itinerary seems to be unavailable other than by using Air NZs own direct sales.
A few points of note. Booking a United leg from SFO to LAX seems to show some funnies with their booking engine. Possibly integration with Continental is not fully established yet. Also, Air NZ allows the booking of tickets up to 350 days in advance whereas their Star partner United will only allow 330 days - this makes lining up all the ducks a little fiddley if you book very far in advance. Finally, Air NZ's direct sales folk were a pleasure to deal with and worked hard to pull it all together for us, even suggesting some cheaper options where they were available.
We will spend about 12 days on North Island and leave South Island and the bungie jumping for another visit. Any further suggestions will be appreciated - particularly any "must sees" re North Island.
As a postscript, just looking at the Air NZ hardware in use one wonders if their 744s will be heading for the old folks home soon? They are still in use for AKL to SFO (and BNE to AKL!).
Again thanks for advice to all. We look forward to an interesting first trip to HKG and NZ.
25th Mar 2012, 01:08
Not all airline booking systems have the same booking horizon. 364 and 330 are two comon ones but I know of airlines with 180 and even 90 day horizons.
United used to use Apollo (330 day horizon) signed a deal to use Amadeus (364 days) decided to merge/buy Continental and then to use their Shares system (330 days) and buy themselves out of Amadeus and close Apollo. Air NZ use Amadeus (364 days).
But don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Airlines can and, more to the point do, change their schedules. Just because your booked on UA1111 at 1215 now doesn't mean you won't end up on UA1117 at 1207 in the end and if you've chosen your seats don't assume they'll have protected that seat selection when they reschedule so keep on checking.
25th Mar 2012, 17:56
Depending on how adventurous the Lawlors are, and whether they are looking for a substitute Bungee ... this is on my To Do list for the North Island, in AKL itself:
SkyJump! Auckland (http://skyjump.co.nz/)
Not cheap - but a nice way to jump off a building. :E
26th Mar 2012, 15:32
Thanks for the warning. I will be sure to check from time to time and try to retain my preferred seat bookings. I have my own interest in New Plymouth - they successfully blew up a power station boiler there many years ago and that was one of my work interests. Maybe sniff around the corpus delicti while there for old time sakes.
You have a 10 year advantage on me. I did have a look at their video and recoiled. No intention of trying it and as for Mrs. L .... nuff said. http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/eek.gif
Keep the suggestions coming - all grist to the mill
26th Mar 2012, 19:26
Ah, well, I thought that maybe there were some junior Ls whom you might like to push off the edge of a high cliff???? ;)