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Prices, route and planning for flights around the world

by Heini Hirvonen
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The pricing of plane tickets for trips around the world is one of the coolest secrets I know. I’m going to share it with you now! In this piece you’ll find, in addition to the prices, also tips and hints for route planning and competitive bidding.

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BEGIN PLANNING THE FLIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD LIKE THIS


It’s good to think about the following things before the competitive bidding of the flights around the world:

  • How much time do you have to spend for experiencing the world. The less time you have, the more important it is to book the flights in advance. When you are travelling, you simply don’t have the energy to start fine-tuning the flight schedules or routes, unless you have endless amounts of time. Probably not even then. There are just so many better things to do.
  • Think about what time of the year you are travelling. Are there peak seasons on your route or other factors, such as Olympic games, that affect the seat availability or the pricing? The prices depend on the seat availability, so the earlier you book your flights, the cheaper it will be. Flights around the world have their own economy class quota, but it’s limited.
  • What countries are must-sees and which destinations are you willing to give up on for cheaper flights?
  • Do you want to change the route or travel dates mid-travel?
  • Are you willing to fly at worse travel hours?
  • Are you ok with several stops, or is a direct flight a must? It was for us, because we travelled with kids.
  • Can you get a student or other discount? If so, some travel organizers will offer significant discounts.
  • How many continents do you wish to visit or how much will you travel during the trip, in total? Almost all the around-the-world –packages are tied to the number of continents visited or the number of miles flown.
  • Consider whether you want to visit the Pacific islands or not. That often raises the price of the flight package.
  • Do you want to fly economy or business? For example, the Oneworld package for flights around the world in business is really inexpensive. One Helsinki-Hong Kong business-class return ticket costs as much as 16 flights around the world in business. In our previous DINK-life (Double Income, No Kids) we would have definitely invested in this. Now, of course, we needed every penny for the travels.
  • Think about the possibility of including some of the land transportation in the air travel, so you won’t need to pay for a train or a car. Oneworld-flight package includes 16 flights, and we didn’t even use all of them. Some of the flights ended up saving both time and money as alternative costs.

Our must-list ended up having the following criteria: direct flights, child-friendly travel times, at least ten flights booked in advance, but the option to change them if need be.

The flight route ended up being: Helsinki-Hong Kong-Denspasar-Sydney-Cairns-Christchurch//Auckland-Santiago De Chile-Rio De Janeiro-Fortaleza-Salvador-Rio De Janeiro-Madrid-Helsinki.

The maximum budget for the flights was 10,000€. How did it go?

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Show me the money!


Our family of five ended up paying a total of 10 189€ for the flights, so we almost stuck to our budget. The flights cost 3 078€/adult and 1 881€/child. For an infant sitting on your lap you only needed to pay the airport tax, which was 270€. We used a total of 12 flights, so one flight ended up costing 257€/adult, 157€/child and 23€/infant. All the flights included a 23kg checked bag, warm meal/meals, drinks, headphones, and a blanket and pillow, depending on the duration of the flight.

All but one of the flights – from Cairns to Christchurch – were direct. The travel times were good except for the early morning flight from Denpasar to Sydney, which was the only option in the Oneworld-alliance selection.

EURPrice/personNumber of peopleTotalPrice/flight
Adult3 07826 156257
Child1 88123 762157
Infant270127023
Total  10 189 

COMPARING ONEWORLD FLIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD

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Pros


We were very happy with Oneworld’s country and airline selections, the direct and good flight connections, the price of the flights around the world, as well as the level of service on flights. When you travel with kids, short connection times and a good overall flow is surprisingly important in terms of everyone’s energy levels. Due to our own scheduling we had to save Japan and Peru for another time, but even they could have been included for the same price, if there had been enough time. In hindsight, Japan can be reached easily and fairly inexpensively, so the initial sting doesn’t hurt anymore. We will save Peru for a time when the kids are a little older and we can climb Machu Picchu without any fears.

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Cons


A minus with Oneworld is the customer service – or rather, the lack thereof. Finnair has decided that the communication for flights around the world only takes place via email. As I’m sure many of you can guess, this arrangement does not work, at all. The emails were answered, on average, once a week, so going back and forth with our flights took a month and a half, when it could have been taken care of in a day or two with just a couple of phone calls. Additionally, the only way to get in touch was to first wait in line for the toll number for half an hour and then leave a message to the ”back office team,” requesting a quick turn-around time.

As a tip for those waiting in line for Finnair’s customer service: you get through much faster – sometimes even directly – through the English-speaking service, and usually the customer service representative speaks Finnish. After the customer service experience I would consider taking care of arrangements through some Oneworld-alliance airline.

It’s also somewhat bothering that you have to pay 70€ per person for the price estimate for flights around the world. According to Finnair, this covers the work that goes into doing the calculations. It will be refunded if the customer ends up using the Oneworld service. From a customer point of view, it feels incomprehensible to be paying 350€ for a mere price estimate for the flights of a family of five. Not many of us would be willing to pay the same for a car estimate, to which a flight package is comparable.

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After all, though, I recommend the Oneworld package. The price for our family was about 5,000-7,000€ cheaper than through other service providers. The route selections and the direct flights from Finland were bar none. In other words, the product is fine, but the service needs improvement.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ONEWORLD FLIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD

You can try the basic routes for flying around the world at https://rtw.oneworld.com/rtw/. Prepare yourself for the fact that the software doesn’t function very well and save your route-plans often. A lot of the Pacific and South-America flights don’t show in the planner.

Information about Oneworld terms and conditions, flight package alternatives and continents as well as other services can be found at https://www.oneworld.com/flights/round-the-world-fares. Remember to also look at ticket options. Especially a ticket for touring around Asia or Oceania may be interesting to those, who do not want to circle the globe. The prices are inexpensive, too.

Oneworld’s customer service can be contacted at finnair.customerservice@finnair.com.

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OTHER RECOMMENDED SERVICE PROVIDERS


www.kilroy.fi offers inexpensive flight packages to students and teachers (!), although the routes were not as good as via Oneworld.

For professional and fast customer service I can recommend www.helinmatkat.fi, which offers good connections and through experience also inexpensive prices. With our route, though, we got an even better deal with Finnair.

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DARE TO DREAM


We gladly spent all the money it took to do our trip around the world. Come to think of it, we have probably never been happier with the fact that we used that money to buy not only unique experiences, but most importantly time with one another.

Before the last flight we talked with the girls about what each of us considered the best thing about our trip. Both the bigger girls said, almost simultaneously, that the best thing was us being together as a family – that, or the biggest water park in Brazil! 🙂

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