Star Alliance Circle Pacific fares are quite the hidden gem, providing considerable savings by combining several destinations into one trip.
Literally named, these multi-city tickets cover journeys that circle the Pacific Ocean – jetting first from Australia to Asia before continuing to North America’s west coast and then returning home.
Business travellers can use these fares to visit clients in global cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore before heading onwards to the likes of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
They're basically a sized-down version of a full round-the world ticket – which we're giving away to one lucky reader – as travel to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America isn't permitted.
It can get a little complicated, so here’s what you need to know to get the most out of a Circle Pacific fare.
Circle Pacific basics
Unlike full round-the-world journeys, Circle Pacific fares limit travel to Asia, North America and the South West Pacific – which includes Australia.
In both Asia and North America, you'll need to keep your feet on the ground for at least 24 hours in one city, while up to 16 flights can be included as part of the journey.
A downside for last-minute business travel is that these fares must be booked at least seven days before the first flight departs, although they're valid for trips lasting from seven days up to six months.
Another is that Singapore Airlines blocks all A380 flights from first class Circle Pacific tickets, so if you’re looking to travel at the pointiest of pointy ends, you’ll need to be a little flexible or accept a downgrade.
On the positive side, a uniform baggage allowance applies across the entire trip, including in North America – where baggage fees often add to the cost of domestic flights.
Business and first class travellers can check two bags with a total combined weight of 30 and 40kg respectively, while economy passengers can travel with a single 20kg bag.
If your plans change, adjustments to Circle Pacific fares can be made for US$75 plus any fare difference, with 90% of the ticket price being refundable in the event of a cancellation.
Here’s where that could take a Sydney-based business traveller…
Circle Pacific: Up to 22,000 miles
Circle Pacific fares come in two varieties, and are priced according to the distance flown.
The cheaper tickets cover up to 22,000 miles, while it’s a little more expensive to fly between 22,001 and 26,000 miles.
Coming in at under 22,000 miles, a simple trip from Australia to Asia and the United States on Star Alliance member airlines looks like this:
- Sydney to Singapore with Singapore Airlines
- Singapore to Shanghai with Singapore Airlines
- Shanghai to Seoul with Asiana Airlines
- Seoul to San Francisco with Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines or United Airlines
- San Francisco to Los Angeles with United Airlines
- Los Angeles to Sydney with United Airlines
By choosing United on the Seoul-San Francisco leg, this 20,266-mile itinerary comes in at A$9,900.25 in business class, including all taxes and surcharges.
Both Singapore Airlines and Asiana levy additional fees on certain business class flights – including between Seoul and San Francisco – so our decision to travel with United has cut between US$500 and US$620 from an otherwise five-figure ticket.
Circle Pacific: From 22,001 to 26,000 miles
A slightly more comprehensive Star Alliance voyage in the opposite direction could turn out like this:
- Sydney to Auckland on Air New Zealand
- Auckland to Honolulu on Air New Zealand
- Honolulu to Los Angeles on United Airlines
- Los Angeles to San Francisco on United Airlines
- San Francisco to Vancouver on Air Canada or United Airlines
- Vancouver to Tokyo on Air Canada or ANA
- Tokyo to Seoul on ANA, Asiana Airlines or United Airlines
- Seoul to Beijing on Air China or Asiana Airlines
- Beijing to Shanghai on Air China
- Shanghai to Taipei on Air China or EVA Air
- Taipei to Hong Kong on EVA Air
- Hong Kong to Bangkok on Thai Airways
- Bangkok to Singapore on Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways or Ethiopian Airlines
- Singapore to Sydney on Singapore Airlines
This 22,906-mile trek prices out at $12,585.56, which is incredible value for the organised business traveller.
It could take a little coordination between clients and airline schedules, but this business class airfare averages just $970 for each of the 13 foreign cities visited.
When compared to the thousands of dollars otherwise spent on every return business class trip, Circle Pacific fares are a no brainer.
What about New York?
As New York borders the Atlantic Ocean on the US east coast, flights here can’t be included as part of a Circle Pacific itinerary.
The Big Apple can be included as part of a round-the-world fare, but a sneakier option is to make two reservations.
The first would be the Circle Pacific journey, flying into either Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Then, and as a separate booking with an airline of your choosing, you could soar from the west coast to New York and meet with important clients.
Afterwards, it’s as simple as returning to the west coast at your leisure and picking up the Circle Pacific trip where you left off – but be sure to leave plenty of time in between flights, even if it means an extra night in LA to break up the journey.
On separate itineraries, you’re not protected if missing an onward flight due to an earlier delay or cancellation, so consider an LA stop your ‘Circle Pacific insurance policy’.
Star Alliance Circle Pacific bookings can be made through travel agents, directly with any Star Alliance airline or by using the Book and Fly tool on the Star Alliance website.
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