Booking your Flights, Part 1

So now convinced to go around the world and knowing where I want to go, how do I now book my flights?

My experience has provided me many options. There’s a story behind each one, which if you don’t mind I’d like to share to see if this option is for you. If you want to know my recommendation,  just jump to the end of this series.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 3.35.40 PM

ATTEMPT #1 – SkyTeam

My initial option was to look for something that the Airline Partnerships offer. Airlines are usually affiliated with other airlines, where you can even share miles, and they carry special “round the world” tickets that is serviced by their partners.

The first Airline Partnership I looked at was Skyteam. Skyteam is composed of Delta, KLM, Air France, China Airlines, AeroMexico, Alitalia, etc.

Why did I look at Skyteam first? Well, it’s simply because I have a LOT of miles with Delta, because of my credit card (which gives me Delta miles) and because of my previous flight history via Northwest (which was absorbed by Delta) where I already logged a lot of miles.

They actually had a Round the World planner on their website.  Here’s how it works:

  • They have tickets in “Mileage Packages”. It comes in at 26000, 29000, 33000, and 38000.
  • Basically, each package has a price and you can get as many flights as needed within that package. You don’t buy individual flights.
  • Certain rules apply in this package. For example, they divide the world into Areas, and there’s limit on certain areas.

I tried the tool, and it was ok. The site loaded a bit slow, and the “working” screen was a bit tiny on my Macbook Pro 15″.

The nice thing about the tool is that the rules “disappear”, you just make your route and it will just show you if what you chose is not allowed. No need for you to remember the rules yourself.

I decided to make an itinerary. You can save the itinerary to your computer at the end so that you can retrieve it again later. Nice stuff.  At the end you complete the itinerary and click “Submit for Quotation”. The site said  “Your itinerary has been successfully submitted. An airline representative will contact you within 24 hours with the fare quote.”.

So with that in mind. I waited. I waited. I waited. In this age of the internet, I was expecting even an email for the local airlines confirming receipt. None came.

I was wondering why no reply? So I decided to call the local Delta.  (I think you can see where the problem is starting…)

I called Delta and their first reply was they’ll look for my record. That day just happened to be a rare free day for me, so I had time and I stayed on hold. They took about 20 minutes to answer. I think I called around 2:30PM.

They said they couldn’t find my record, and ask me to send them the itinerary. I emailed to them, there was a slight mixup in the address so I had to email it again. I was again put on hold. Another 20 minutes. Hmm.

I spoke to a person and they now gave me a quote. The quote was something like PHP 450,000 (USD 10,000). I was skeptical, my other research said an RTW flight was much less than that.

I asked “is this the 29K package, the 33K or the 38K?” 

She had no idea what I was talking about. 

I politely and cheerfully explained to her about the Skyteam Round the World ticket. Over the phone I told her which site to check so she can see the offer. You can hear the recognition in her voice (in fairness to her she was kind and polite the whole time). She said she’ll find someone to talk to.

So wait again… maybe around 15 minutes. She asked me a question, I replied and another 10 minute wait. Yes I was patient that day.

She now gave me a new quote, which is nearer what I was expecting.

I then asked, ok I’d like to find out the options in my route. Can you look at what will happen if I remove this or this or add this? How much mileage is this? Which package does it fall under? Can I use my Skymiles for this?

She explains that there’s only one person who does the computation for Round the World and she has to pass on the information to her again.

Oh ok, now I see the source of the delays. Can I speak to her directly please? She says no. Something about protocol.

Hmm. Ok I’m feeling nice today. It was already about 5PM, and office hours were about to close.

I politely explain that this is a big project and for something this major  maybe she can ask if the person in charge can get in touch with me directly. This will allow us to make things work faster and more efficient, and so she won’t have to be the “errand girl” running back and forth. She says she understands and she’ll pass on the message. I gave her my contact info so that the person in charge can contact me directly.

Until today, I have not heard from the person.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Skyteam must do a good job somewhere in the world, but based on my experience with their local partner in the Philippines, they seem unaware of the Round the World Ticket and/or it seems it’s not that easy to arrange one. Maybe no one from the Philippines has availed of this option, so that’s why they’re not trained. Or maybe they just didn’t take me seriously. Or maybe it’s not offered here. Or maybe they just really don’t know. I don’t know.

For the record, our conversation was always polite and friendly although I can sense the girl on the other line was a little embarrassed about it.

Maybe another person in the Philippines found it easy and fast using Skyteam. In my case I didn’t.

So to sum up:

Booking via SkyTeam

  • Easy to use Website to create an itinerary (though a bit slow and small screen)
  • Itinerary will be sent to local affiliate for pricing
  • My experience with the local affiliate wasn’t great
  • I never actually got to find out how each package was priced

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this option. Too bad, if they did a good job here, I probably wouldn’t have looked for a second one.

Onwards to the next option in my next post.

Leo

P.S. You’ll see my original intention with the travel itinerary with the sample image above. I originally thought of going to Seoul before Delhi and Honolulu before back to Manila. I decided to drop Seoul since it’s easy to get there another time, and dropped Honolulu to save money and time. 

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3 thoughts on “Booking your Flights, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Leo Castillo Travels the World | Booking your Flights, Part 2

  2. Pingback: Leo Castillo Travels the World | Booking your Flights, Part 3

  3. Pingback: Leo Castillo Travels the World | Booking your Flights, Part 4

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