Round the World (RTW) on One Ticket

A round the world (RTW) ticket is part of frequent flyer folklore. A RTW trip may be the perfect way to start retirement, your next career, your next relationship…. Just imagine circumnavigating the globe, complete with frequent culture shocks to disconnect you from where you were and bridge you to where you are going. Your only concern: focusing on the journey. Kinda awesome. Seriously.

A RTW ticket enables you to fly around the world for a relatively low price and can be cheaper than buying individual one way tickets. Most RTWs are offered through airline alliances, taking advantage of the alliance’s network. Depending on which product you choose, you can make anywhere from 2 to 16 stopovers (24 hours+ in a given city before continuing) within a year.

To keep it simple to understand airline routing and associated fare calculations, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has divided the world into three geographical areas known as Passenger Tariff Conferences (TCs) (full list at bottom of this posting):

  • TC1: Americas (including Greenland, Caribbean, Hawaiian Islands);
  • TC2: EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa)
  • TC3: Asia and Oceania

RTW basics (consult each RTW program for particulars):

  • Travel must start and end in the same country.
  • You are permitted to:
    • cross each traffic conference once;
    • cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans only once each; and,
    • backtrack within a single TC zone.
  • Your routing must be established before departure, but you can schedule flight segments as you go depending on availability.
  • There are First, Business or Economy class options


Airline alliances that offer RTW alliance-wide pass options

(see links for details)

Remember that when dealing with airline alliances each airline in the alliance has it’s own rules and restrictions.

International Air Transport Association Traffic Conference Zones

Traffic Conference 1 (TC-1) / Area 1
North America (Canada, Greenland, Mexico, St. Pierre & Miquelon, USA including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands)
US Territories (American Samoa, Johnston Atoll, Swains Is., Baker Island, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Island, Guam, Midway Island, Wake Island., Howland Is., Northern Mariana Island, Jarvis, Saipan)
Caribbean (Anguilla, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Antilles, Antigua and Bermuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, Haiti, St. Vincent and The grenadines, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Martinique, Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominica, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands)
Central America (Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua)
South America (Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, French Guiana, Suriname, Brazil, Guyana, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Paraguay)

Traffic Conference 2 (TC-2) / Area 2
Europe (Albania, Germany, Norway, Algeria, Gibraltar, Poland, Andorra, Greece, Portugal, Armenia, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Iceland, Russia (in Europe), Azerbaijan, Ireland, San Marino, Belarus, Italy, Serbia, Belgium, Latvia,
Slovakia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Spain, Croatia, Luxembourg, Sweden, Cyprus, Macedonia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Malta, Tunisia, Denmark, Moldova, Turkey, Estonia, Monaco, Ukraine, Finland, Montenegro, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Georgia, Netherlands)
Middle East (Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Qatar, Yemen)
Central Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
Eastern Africa (Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda)
South Western Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland)
Western Africa (Angola, Benin, Burkina, Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Côte D’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea – Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo)
Indian Ocean Islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion, Seychelles,
Libya or Libya Arab Jamahiriya

Traffic Conference 3 (TC-3) / Area 3
South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal)
South East Asia (Brunei, Darussalam, Kyrgyzstan, Palau, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, China (excluding Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR), Macao SAR, Russia (in Asia), Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Malaysia, Singapore, Guam, Micronesia, Thailand, Hong Kong SAR, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Northern Mariana Is., Viet Nam (Saipan, Rota)
Japan / Korea
South West Pacific (American Samoa, Nauru, Solomon Island, Australia, New Caledonia, Tonga, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Tuvalu, Fiji, Niue, Vanuatu French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Wallis and Futuna Island, Kiribati, Samoa)


Has anyone out there used a RTW option?

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