Round the World (RTW) Award Booking Guide with Qantas Points
Booking Round the World (RTW) ticket with points is one of the best uses of Qantas Frequent Flyer points. RTW booking using Qantas points is called “Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards”. Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards are award redemptions based on the total distance travelled (a maximum of 35,000 miles of travel) that covers over a 12-month period, with stopovers in up to 5 cities and up to 16 segments of flights.
Unlike other Qantas Classic Flight Reward options which are based on one-way trips, you could use Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards to book around the world trips as long as the total distance travelled is within the maximum allowable miles of 35,000.
The Qantas Frequent Flyer points required to book Oneworld RTW award are 132,400 points in Economy, 249,600 in Premium Economy, 318,000 points in Business and 455,000 points in First Class. It is worth noting that Premium Economy and First Class redemptions can be challenging to find availability on every one of your flight due to many flights not offering Premium Economy or First Class cabin. You can book mixed cabin but you will be charged at the highest cabin cost for your RTW booking, i.e. if you book some Business Class flights and some First Class flights for your RTW booking, you will still be charged 455,000 points.
In this post:
Why book RTW Award Ticket?
As mentioned, Oneworld RTW is one of the best uses of Qantas points. You can see from the comparative table below that booking Oneworld RTW award represents great value compared to point-to-point or return award redemptions:
|Cabin Class||Melbourne to New York or London (return) on Qantas||Melbourne to New York or London (return) on Oneworld Airlines||Oneworld Classic Flight Reward (RTW)|
|Number of miles||~ 21,000||~ 21,000||up to 35,000|
It costs the same amount of Qantas points to travel up to five cities and 35,000 miles on Oneworld airlines as it is to book return flights to New York or London with Oneworld airlines.
Which Airline Can you fly with?
Only Oneworld airlines can be included in a Oneworld Classic Flight Reward redemption. That means non-Oneworld Qantas partners such as Jetstar, Air France, El Al and Emirates are not eligible.
Oneworld is an alliance of 13 airlines, with a network connecting over 1,000 destinations in more than 150 countries. LATAM will depart from the alliance in October and Moroccan flagship carrier Royal Air Maroc will join the alliance in April 2020. Alaska Airlines has just recently announced they will be joining Oneworld Alliance from summer 2021.
Current Oneworld airlines are:
- Alaska Airlines (from summer 2021)
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- LATAM (until May 2020)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc (from April 2020)
- Royal Jordanian
- Sri Lankan Airlines
What are the Oneworld RTW Award rules?
- The maximum total distance is 35,000 miles.
- The maximum number of stopovers is 5 cities.
- The maximum number of individual segments is 16.
- You can’t have more than one stopover and two transits in a single airport (a stopover is any stop between flights for more than 24 hours and a transit is a scheduled stop for less than 24 hours between flights)
- You need to include travel on at least two Oneworld member airlines other than Qantas (you could include Qantas in your itinerary or not at all)
- The trip must be completed within 12 months
- The trip will end once you return to the original country of departure
- All flight bookings for the trip must be finalised before the first flight takes off
As the award is calculated on total mileage, you can fly anywhere and in any direction you want (backtracking is permitted).
- Transits of under 24 hours are not counted towards the five stopovers limit.
- You can use “surface sectors” visit more destinations. A surface sector is when you fly into one airport and make your way (via bus, train or cheap airfare) to another airport to fly out of. By using surface sectors, you can actually visit more than five destinations because it is counted as one stopover (instead of two). For example: You could fly from Perth to Zurich, make your own way to Madrid, to then fly our of Madrid. In this case, it is counted as 1 stopover, 2 segments (Perth to Zurich and Zurich to Madrid), and the distance between Zurich and Madrid is counted towards the maximum 35,000 miles.
Fees and Taxes
The fees and taxes may vary depending on the airlines, routes and airports. As you could see in the sample itinerary below, you could expect to pay over $1,000 in fees and taxes for RTW trip with five stopovers.
Some airlines also add fuel surcharges, also called “carrier-imposed surcharge” on top of the government/airport authority charged fees and taxes. British Airways, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian and Qatar Airways charge high fuel surcharges, while Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines charge moderate fuel surcharges and no fuel surcharges are charged by Finnair, Fiji Airways and American Airlines.
While in general European countries charge high fees and taxes, passengers departing the UK are charged Air Passenger Duty (APD) which can be quite expensive. The trick to avoid APD is to take the next flight sector (it could be a transit flight) within 2,000 miles radius of UK departure airport (APD for within 0-2,000 miles is very low) OR to make an international connection through a UK airport within 24 hours of incoming flight.
You could check Google’s ITA Matrix for the estimated fees and taxes for each leg of your flights:
How to book Oneworld RTW Award Flights
Pre-planning your trip
- Pick your destinations As you can have a maximum of five stopovers, I would suggest that your start with general region that you would like to visit and be flexible with the cities, e.g. for this particular sample itinerary I would like to visit Asia, South Africa, Europe and USA. I am flexible which city I use as my travel base in Europe as it depends on the flight award availability and it is easy to travel internally within Europe.
- Planning your routes The next step is to check Oneworld interactive network map to see possible the cities, routes and Oneworld airlines that operate on specific routes.
For example, from the interactive map it shows Oneworld airlines operate flights from Sydney to Johannesburg in South Africa. Upon checking the route, I know that I could fly with either Qantas or Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong) to Johannesburg.
I continue a similar process for my destinations in Europe and North America.
The draft route that I came up with for my sample RTW trip is as follows:
- Sydney – Hong Kong (with Cathay Pacific)
- Hong Kong – Johannesburg (with Cathay Pacific)
- Johannesburg – Madrid via Doha (with Qatar or British Airways)
- Madrid – New York (with Iberia or British Airways)
- New York JFK – Los Angeles (with American Airlines)
- Los Angeles – Sydney (with Qantas or Japan Airlines)
- Keeping tab of the total miles
To make sure you don’t exceed the 35,000 mile limit, use the Great Circle Mapper tool to calculate the total miles as you go.
If you don’t know the IATA code of an airport, you could search the codes on the site – see below:
Then type in the airport codes separated by hyphens (for example, MEL-LAX-JFK-LHR-HKG-MEL) and click “Map” or “Distance”:
- Be reminded to count any surface sector you have in your itinerary. For example: if you fly into London then catch a train to Paris and fly out of Paris, then the mileage between London and Paris will be calculated as part of this award.
- When you end the trip in a port other than the port of origin, the distance between your final destination and your port of origin will be counted in your total miles travelled. For example: if you end your trip in Melbourne but you start the RTW trip in Bali, you will need to count the distance between Melbourne and Bali in your total miles calculation.
Airlines release award seats at different times. Here’s how many days in advance you can usually book:
- Qantas – 353 days (reduced to 297 days for Bronze and 323 days for Silver members)
- American Airlines – 331 days
- British Airways – 354 days
- Cathay Pacific – 353 days
- Finnair – 361 days
- Iberia – 361 days
- Japan Airlines – 330-360 days
- LATAM – 330 days
- Malaysia Airlines – 354 days
- Qatar Airways – 361 days
- Royal Jordanian – 362 days
- S7 Airlines – 330 days
- Sri Lankan – 361 days
The Qantas Multi-city search tool is the best way to search for individual flight that will make up your itinerary. It is highly recommended you search for each flight individually. Do remember to ignore non-Oneworld alliance flights in the search results, e.g. Jetstar, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Alaska Airlines, Westjet, etc.
Note: For flights that are not visible on Qantas rewards search engine, you could try using British Airways Executive Club search engine or Award Nexus (paid subscription) or Expert Flyer (paid subscription, offers a free five day trial period for “Pro” subscription, not available for searching Cathay or Qatar award space)
It is also recommended that you use a planner, such as this one, to record flight details, total miles, transit/stopover points. This will help you check if you meet all the requirements of the Oneworld Classic Rewards rules and it will come in handy if you need to call Qantas to make the booking over the phone.
As you search for individual flights, record the information on the planner when you find the availability on the flight you want.
Then search for the second stopover leg: Hong Kong to Johannesburg.
Repeat the process for all the flights* until the itinerary is complete:
*The availability search for these flights were done on 19th January 2020
Booking the flights
Once you have found availability online for most or all your RTW flights, it is advisable to lock in the booking straight away as availability may change unexpectedly.
You can book a Oneworld RTW trip either online using the Qantas website or over the phone. When you book online via Qantas Frequent Flyer website, the system automatically prices it according to the Oneworld Classic Flight Award Chart when you meet all the Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards rules. However, if the system thinks you have breached one of the rules, it will provide pricing by individual flight and it will exceed the required RTW points of 132,400 (E)/249,600 (PE)/318,000 (B)/455,000 (F). If this happens, you may need to book over the phone by calling Qantas Call Centre (13 11 31). Qantas’ Reward Assistance Fee of 7,700 Qantas Points or $77 per passenger applies to all bookings made over the phone.
To book you Oneworld Classic Flight Rewards (RTW) trip, use the “Multi-City” tool (NOT “Round the World):
Then make sure you choose “Use points – Classic Flight Rewards only”, enter the all the destinations and dates as per the availability we have previously checked and click “Search”:
Check total points required and all the details are correct before proceeding to book the flights.
Making changes to RTW booking
You don’t need to book the whole Award at once. You could book a couple of sectors as they open up and add additional sectors at a later stage. These additions will need to be made via the Qantas call centre – please be mindful of long waiting times when calling. You will be charged a 5,000 points change fee each time you make changes to your itinerary, so try to lock down as many flights and dates as you can at the start.
Other Sample Itineraries
There is another possibility of using Oneworld Classic Flight Reward – by breaking it into two trips on one ticket.
There are two things to note if you would like to use this option:
- Your ticket finishes if you return to the city or country of origin (you can’t leave it again once you return to your country of origin). Therefore the trip must start somewhere else other than your country of residence.
- As previously mentioned, when you end the trip in a port other than the port of origin, the distance between your final destination and your port of origin will be counted in your total miles travelled.
Tip: As the journey needs to start outside of your country of residence (in this case, Australia), pick a port that is within a short flight from Australia, such as Singapore or Bali, where you can get relatively cheap positioning flight to start your RTW trip.
Example #1 if you are based in Perth (Total – 31,468 miles):
- Singapore to London via Doha (with Qatar Airways), make own way to Barcelona
- Barcelona to Perth via Doha (with Qatar Airways) for some time at home (for any number of weeks or months)
- Perth to Hong Kong for a second holiday (with Cathay Pacific)
- Hong Kong to Tokyo for another stop on the way home (with Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines)
- Tokyo back to Perth via Sydney to end the journey (with Qantas)
Or Example #2 if you are based in Melbourne (Total – 34,837 miles):
- Bali to HKG (with Cathay Pacific)
- Hong Kong to San Francisco (with Cathay Pacific)
- SFO to NYC (with American Airlines)
- NYC to Mel via LAX (with Qantas)
- Mel to Tokyo (with Japan Airlines or Qantas)
- Tokyo back to Mel (with Japan Airlines or Qantas)
- You can fly anywhere and in any direction you want as long as it is within 35,000 miles requirements
- You can have up to 5 stopovers and 16 flight segments within 12 month period.
- Plan early – ideally start the planning process a year in advance.
- Be flexible with your dates, routes and departures/arrivals cities – ie. try Brisbane or Sydney if you can’t find flight ex-Adelaide and if there is no availability try coming back from USA instead of visiting USA at the start of your journey.
- Do not delay booking your trip once you have found availability for most of your flights.
- Try to book the flights online on the Qantas site. But be prepared for the possibility that you can’t book all the flights all at once