$$$ KPO and CZM $$$: Our KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World (RTW) Trip Planning/Booking

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Our KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World (RTW) Trip Planning/Booking

Happy Chinese New Year! Never thought I would be able to travel around the world in my lifetime... but we will be doing that in two days time (!!!), thanks to KPO and his relentless effort in tackling every single mile from our credit card spending (and also thanks to my effort in spending so much money lol). Planning this RTW isn't an easy feat at all and this is likely our first and last RTW as a result. In KPO's previous post (Quick Update - Too Busy to Blog), he explained briefly on the rules of RTW. I shall continue on our actual booking nightmare.

Basically, we cannot do an online RTW booking using miles redemption. Hence, people who want to redeem an RTW can either choose to head down to the SIA service centre located at ION or dial in to SIA's hotline to perform a booking. We were quite worried that we may end up having to pay a service fee as a booking done offline will incur a service fee of USD 25 or 2500 miles per person per booking and we had exactly only 480k miles for our Business Class redemption i.e. no miles to pay for the fee. Though it was also stated on the SIA website that the fee is not chargeable if the service cannot be performed online, we were already prepared to pay. After all, it had been one of our milestones to go on this trip. 

Prior to our redemption, we had already come up with an initial itinerary based on places we had in mind to visit and some basic googling. We also utilized the Star Alliance RTW website to check that our route is valid (i.e. below 35000 air mileage and no backtracking). Below is our initial plan:

Valid routes based on Star Alliance RTW planner

Our plan for KrisFlyer Star Alliance RTW redemption

As South America was really too ulu and too few direct flights to our destinations, we had many routes that involved backtracking. One example is our flight between Merida (Mexico) and Cusco (Peru) where we had to fly up to Houston (US) as a stopover as there were no direct flights under the Star Alliance. To be double sure that our route is valid, we decided to head down to ION as we think that explaining to the service staff face to face will be a lot easier. We were mentally prepared that this wasn't going to be an easy battle as the rules aren't that straight forward and some places may not have flights every day. Hence, we told ourselves to be super flexible in terms of dates and the class that we may be flying on. With our battle gears on (2 laptops, 1 itinerary with flexible dates), we headed down to ION.

As we were in the Business Class queue, there wasn't much waiting involved. We were assigned to a lady at the counter and told her we want to redeem for RTW. Immediately she told us to hang on and went to pull out a hardcopy file with the RTW rules printed on it. She explained that RTW is not common and quite complicated, hence she needs to revise on the rules again. We were quite amused by it. We then shared our itinerary with her and she began ferociously keying into the system and checking for available flights and validity of routing. To our dismay, the dates and routing that we initially proposed were fully booked. We requested to try again plus/minus a few days but still the same results. There were simply no flights between Argentina and Switzerland! We decided to change our itinerary on the spot, replacing Argentina with Brazil instead. Honestly, we had no idea what we wanted to do in Brazil, but heck! Our super helpful SIA staff tried again by keying in Rio De Janeiro airport but still returned no results. We thought that was the end of our RTW and were discussing whether to go home to research more. Suddenly the lady asked if we wanted to go to Brasilia. We weren't even sure where's that, but apparently while we were deep in our discussions, she went to try other Brazil locations and eventually found a flight there. She really saved the day! SIA if you are seeing this, we really applaud the customer service rendered! She spent more than 2 hours going through all possible routes and went all out to help us fulfill our dream! She then helped us reserve our tickets and told us that we have to confirm within 24 hours, otherwise the slots will be released. 

We went home and KPO wanted to try optimizing a little as some flights were booked on economy class but to no avail. We then decided to go ahead with what was reserved for us and dialed into the hotline to do the confirmation. What comes next was unexpected.  The staff on the phone told us that they had re-validated the route and this was not valid. What?!?! Imagine our horror/dismay/anger. We insisted our way because obviously this had to be valid, otherwise how did the ION staff even process the ticket for us. We stayed on the phone for hours, explaining the reason for our backtracking to the staff and again to the service manager. We finally got our tickets issued by the manager a day later, obviously very tired and relieved from all these. Tip - do your reservation at the ION service centre and avoid the call centre.

We have a total of 14 flights (5 in Economy and 9 in Business) and it cost us 240,000 KrisFlyer miles and SG$435 per pax. Oh, there was no service fee too (both at ION or through the call centre).

Those highlighted in yellow = layover time of about an hour

Will we do another RTW? Not anytime soon, it's really tiring and you need to have a lot of leaves to do that. I probably wouldn't be able to if I hadn't change my job. Lol.

5 months down the road but everything still seems very surreal... Will update again on our flight experience in another post! 

You might be interested in these articles too:
Our KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World (RTW) Trip Planning/Booking
RTW to Mexico - Chichen Itza
RTW to Mexico - Coba Ruins
RTW to Mexico - Isla Mujeres
RTW to Mexico - Tulum
RTW to Peru - Cusco

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  1. Congrats! Be a part-time travel blogger during your RTW! 1 month worth of travelling!


    1. Thanks! Yes doing it now. Stay tune to our posts! :)

  2. Lol there's nothing to do in Brasilia. Went there before.

    1. Yes I know right! Unfortunately, that's the only available flight to complete our RTW route back then.

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