Star Alliance is gunning for a greater share of the business and corporate travel market with the release of four new Round The World (RTW) fares designed to cut the costs of international travel.
The new RTW fares include a business class package with a base rate of just over $10,000 (excluding taxes and surcharges), representing saving of almost $2,000 on the previous lowest Star Alliance RTW business class fare – but will offer between three and 15 stopovers across a total travel distance of 26,000 miles.
Star has also added three additional economy RTW fares with lower base rates in exchange for fewer stopovers.
But it's the business class deal – marketed as 'Star Special' (booking code CRWSPCL) – which will appeal most to business travellers.
While a 'round the world business class' trip sounds like the indulgence of a lifetime, savvy corporate travellers have long used RTW fares to create a single itinerary spanning several countries and flying on any of Star's 26 member airlines for less than the cost of booking individual trips.
However, the relatively high price of RTW fares can be off-putting for smaller businesses – and that's where Star's new entry-level RTW business fare slots in.
"Our new Business Class fare level in particular provides SMEs with an efficient and cost-effective way to pursue business opportunities in multiple markets while at the same time offering a fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status" explains Craig McCarthy, Chair of Australia's Star Alliance Country Steering Committee.
"Once Gold Status is attained, corporate travellers gain access to a wide range of valuable benefits - from priority check-in and boarding to lounge access and extra baggage allowance - that can transform any journey," McCarthy tells Australian Business Traveller.
Exploring the new Star Special RTW fare
Star's RTW business class fares previously slotted into three pricing bands based on travel up to 29,000 miles, 34,000 miles or 39,000 miles. Dubbed Star One, Star Two and Star Three, respectively, these remain on the RTW table.
The new Star Special fare adds a cheaper 26,000 mile band while still allowing for up to 15 stopovers (a break in the journey of 24 hours or more).
So where could that take you?
Here's a sample Star Special business class itinerary for a Sydney-based traveller:
- Sydney to Singapore with Singapore Airlines
- Singapore to Bangkok with Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways
- Bangkok to London with Thai Airways
- London to Toronto with Air Canada
- Toronto to New York with Air Canada or United Airlines
- New York to Los Angeles with United Airlines
- Los Angeles to Sydney with United Airlines
Booked under the new Star Special fare, and including taxes and airline fees and surcharges, this 24,156-mile trek comes in at a total cost of A$11,275.65.
Booked as a Star One trip, it'd cost $11,876 before taxes, surcharges and other add-ons.
Booking a Star Alliance RTW fare
If you’re considering a RTW fare for your next business trip, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First up, you’ll need to travel in one direction (either east or west) and cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans only once – so you can’t use a RTW fare to jet from London to New York and then back across to Frankfurt.
You’ll also have to stop for at least 24 hours in at least three cities. A week-long stay in one country followed by a series of short stops for day meetings isn’t allowed, even if you're willing to fight through the jetlag.
Finally, some airlines impose surcharges for particular aircraft on RTW fares – from our sample itinerary, that includes Singapore Airlines and Air Canada.
Between Sydney or Melbourne and Singapore, SQ tacks on an extra US$400 charge for travelling on the A380 or Boeing 777-300ER.
These surcharges don’t apply when travelling on other aircraft types, so if you’re a little flexible with flight times, choosing a different flight can save you hundreds.
We were able to avoid additional airline surcharges in our flight selections, but keep in mind that these may add to the overall cost of your journey.
Star Alliance RTW bookings can be made through travel agents, directly with a Star Alliance airline or by using the Book and Fly tool on the Star Alliance website.
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About Chris Chamberlin
Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!