The process of purchasing a complex international or round-the-world plane ticket can be confusing. That’s why you have questions. But by knowing the right questions you’ll put yourself in a position to get a better ticket, and by extension a better trip overall.
In order to help our customers, we’ve prepared a list of some of the most relevant and revealing questions asked of our Personal Travel Consultants when booking around-the-world tickets. We hope this list will help you understand the process a little better and also to inspire better questions of your own.
Clicking on the questions below will drop you down to their answers.
Have you ever visited places I’m going on my trip? Can you suggest places from your personal travels that I could easily add to my itinerary?
When you’re planning your trip, talking to someone who’s visited the places you’re going is an invaluable resource. With a few quick, well-tailored questions you can get first-hand information about your own trip. Don’t be shy about picking your Personal Travel Consultant’s brain.
Every person at AirTreks is an avid traveler. Collectively, we’ve traveled virtually everywhere on the planet, and very likely to places you’re interested in checking out.
Ask about things to do, neighborhoods to check out, how long it takes to get from/to the airport and other places in the area, different overland travel options and if there may be any better airports to fly into and out of near the place you want to go.
Are there any additional stopovers I could add for free or inexpensively?
This question could add a ton of value without adding cost. The fares we use at AirTreks often have multiple legs and therefore allow for stopovers in places they connect. If your flight has a connection, chances are you’ll be able to stop there for little or no extra cost. Or, maybe adding in another stop is the same cost as a more expensive nonstop flight.
If you’re interested in maximizing the number of places you visit, just let us know.
If I were to cut out one stop in my itinerary, which one would save me the most money?
Omitting long-haul flights between world regions, or ones that cross the equator (down to Australia/New Zealand and South Africa) will bring the most dramatic savings. Sometimes though, dropping a stop you assumed would be a connecting city, or flying into a nearby airport and traveling overland to your final destination will save you money too.
How can I find out if I need a visa or vaccinations for the places I’m visiting?
Officially, our answer needs to be “For visa requirements, check with each embassy or consulate for the countries that you are visiting or connecting through.” Apart from the electronic visa for Australia, AirTreks doesn’t issue visas in-house and our lawyers don’t like us to advise on those we don’t issue. While it’s very important that you get the final word directly from the embassy, we DEFINITELY recommend that you find out about visas before buying tickets.
Transit visas are sometimes required when making connections and you want to be sure that you’re aware of all of the rules. At AirTreks, we try to anecdotally advise our travelers about entry visas and transit visas, as well as any reciprocity fees you can expect to pay. At the very least where to go to find out more. This is a topic where working with someone who has experience can really pay off.
If you’re looking for someone who can take care of all of your visa applications for you, we recommend www.visahq.com.
For vaccinations, the travelers section of CDC.org is the best place to check on immunizations. If you’re traveling with medicine, you should also double check the entry requirements to make sure there are no special rules for the specific type of medicine you’re carrying.
Does my price include hotels, land arrangements or travel insurance? If not, how do I get those?
When you buy tickets from AirTreks, if you are a resident of the US or Canada (except Quebec) the ticket price will include our in-house travel insurance policy at no additional cost. For residents of other countries, we have a few different policies we can recommend.
When it comes to accommodations and tours, we’re happy to make recommendations for you based on our personal travels as well as yours. We partner very closely with an agency specializing in boutique hotels and eco-friendly excursions, so if that’s up your alley we can put you in touch with them during the planning process.
Can I use frequent flyer miles to upgrade my tickets? If so, do I do it with you or with the airline? Am I going to be able to accrue miles on my favorite FF program?
One thing many travelers are surprised to learn is that not every airline ticket will allow you to accrue 100% of the miles flown, even if you are flying on the same airline as the one with which you have a mileage account. This is especially true for partner airlines (i.e. Delta and Korean Air). Whether or not you can accrue miles, and at what rate, is dependent on the specific fare at the time the ticket is issued, as well as each carrier’s specific rules.
If earning miles on a particular carrier is essential for your travels, our best advice is to make this clear BEFORE you buy your tickets, and to double check that the fare you are buying allows you to accrue miles the way you want.
Sometimes, if you want to earn 100% miles, you’ll have to upgrade to a higher fare in order to do so.
Using miles to upgrade your tickets or purchasing a ticket exclusively with miles are things you have to do through the airlines directly. While we never guarantee that our tickets will be upgradeable, we are here to help advise you if you have questions about how best to go about using your miles.
Do you have a customer service department there that can help if I need to make changes, or if there is a flight cancellation or emergency on my trip?
In our experience, having post-purchase support is essential when taking an extended international trip. Inevitably, airlines will change their schedules, storms will disrupt flight service, or you’ll want to make changes to your tickets. Having someone available to assist you in such cases can make a huge difference, especially when you’re on the road.
Never buy tickets without a clear understanding of how to make changes and get advice after the purchase.
AirTreks has a fully staffed customer service department specifically created to help our clients make changes, notified them of schedule changes and help with ticketing emergencies. They can reissue, revalidate and make new bookings while you’re traveling and are available by email or phone.
What airlines can you book?
Knowing what you have access to is important when you’re considering your airfare purchase. Some online booking engines and agencies don’t take into account every airfare option for your destinations. With all the new low-cost, online-only carriers popping up, not every airline schedule and fare is available in one place, so it can be helpful to have an experienced traveler to help you weigh the possibilities.
AirTreks can book most of the airlines operating in the world. There are some countries that the US government does not allow us to do business with – we are not able to book Cubana Airlines (Cuba) or Air Koryo (North Korea), for example.
How do I get seat assignments?
We definitely recommend being knowledgeable on how to request seats for your flights.
While some airlines don’t allow for advance seat selection before check in, others do and most airline policy differs in some way. Sadly these days however, seat booking fees and airport check-in situations are becoming increasingly more common.
When you’re in the process of purchasing tickets, it’s good to inquire about how your seats will be assigned. Because the airlines reserve the right to change their equipment on any flight up until departure, specific seat requests can never be guaranteed, but your agency should be able to either confirm seat requests for you, or advise you of how to do so on your own.
At AirTreks, we’ll make sure to assign seats for you where possible when we send you your tickets. If you have specific seat request, we will include that in your reservations whenever we can.
Will you notify me of airline schedule changes after my tickets have been purchased?
This is a crucial question to consider when purchasing tickets for an extended trip. Airlines can change their schedules as they see fit at any time, including canceling flights completely. Make sure you’re aware of how you’ll be informed of changes before purchasing your flights.
AirTreks has a dedicated team to help notify our clients of any major schedule change (those over 15 minutes) at any point until your trip is over, and to assist if any changes cause your flights to get out of sync. Our customer service team is here to help you get your trip back on track if airline changes interrupt your travel plans.
You don’t always have to accept airline changes either – sometimes there are options to rebook your flights onto a different airline or route when schedule changes occur. Our experience with such cases will be extremely valuable to you if something should come up during your trip. AirTreks is one of the only companies to offer this as a value added service.
If you have any other questions about your own round-the-world trip, feel free to leave them in the comments section and we’ll try to answer them right away.