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Airline alliances offer global deals


I am told that the Star Alliance has great deals on round-the-world fares. How can I get information on this?

The three main airline alliances - Star Alliance (www.staralliance.com, with 18 carriers, including United, Singapore, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand), Oneworld (oneworld. com, with eight carriers, including American, British Airways and Qantas) and Skyteam.com (10 carriers, including Continental, Delta, Air France, KLM and Alitalia) - offer round-the-world opportunities with a raft of options, based on the number of continents visited or miles traveled. Prices depend on itinerary (a Northern Hemisphere routing traveling east or west taking in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok or Tokyo will cost about 30 percent less than a southern routing via Australia or the South Pacific) and the number of stopovers.

You must travel in a continuous direction with no backtracking, stay away at least 10 days and make at least three stopovers. You can often buy your ticket at any time before you depart and change the dates of most flights and even destination cities for a fee. The tickets are typically valid for one year; usually allowing two stopovers in Asia, two in the Pacific and three in North America. Compare prices and conditions for the places you want to go. Travelers can earn and redeem frequent-flier miles among member airlines of each alliance.

Round-the-world tickets are too complicated to book online. Check out the options on an airline alliance site, then call a member airline or a travel agent to make reservations.

If you already need to fly halfway around the world, it makes sense to fly all the way around on a ticket that can save up to 40 percent on the cost of a conventional round-trip fare. (Fly westward and you beat jet lag because you extend your natural day, whereas flying east, you exacerbate it by shortening your natural night.) In general, expect to pay from $2,400 for a ticket in economy class, $7,000 in business class and $12,000 in first.

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