Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004


Written in December 2003 ...

This trip first began to take shape in Autumn 2002. Of all the places that I hadn't yet been to, the one that seemed to be crying out the loudest for a visit was New Zealand. And with my last visit to Australia having been as long ago as 1993, that great country also demanded an urgent re-visit. For various reasons that I won't bore you with - mainly too many existing travel plans! - the first feasible opportunity for such a trip was as far ahead as Spring 2004. Having decided on a likely time frame, the initial thought of a there-and-back trip then gave way, within just a few days, to the idea of making it a round-the-world (RTW) journey - my second. By now I was already well and truly hooked and, within a week of first starting to think about it, I had secured permission to take six weeks leave, starting in late February, 2004.

Being a huge fan of British Airways and with more than a passing interest in their oneworld alliance, I soon discovered the One World Explorer (OWE) ticket. Having got my head round the ticket rules, I set to work on various Internet sites and, by Spring 2003, my itinerary was starting to take on a definite shape. I wanted to do the trip in Business Class and, at this stage, imagined that I would be buying a four-continent OWE (fare code DONE4) originating and terminating at my home airport, EDI.

Then - I think through some RTW-related Google search - I discovered something which I now can't believe that I once lived without ... FlyerTalk! Here was an entire on-line community of people who not only thought like me, but many of whom surpassed my level of activity and knowledge to such an extent that I felt like a complete travel novice - not a description that any of my friends would recognise as applying to me! In the space of a further couple of months, my trip had reached a new stage of evolution, as I realised that :

  • Contrary to every assumption I had made up to this point, First Class air travel was well within my grasp.
  • Despite sitting right up front, I could complete the trip for considerably less outlay than initially envisaged.
  • I could earn far greater frequent-flyer benefits in the process, achieving my first Gold status.
  • I could arrange things in such a way that I could get three holidays, not just one, out of the ticket.

For any fellow FlyerTalkers reading this, I should stress that the main driver of the trip was and is to have a good holiday. It is not a mileage run, although I am more than satisfied with the value that I am obtaining from the ticket and with the level of benefits that I will accrue in the process.

By the middle of Summer 2003, I had made all the necessary arrangements, bought the ticket and - in the middle of a fairly busy existing travel programme - arranged a weekend in Cairo to allow me to pick up the ticket and complete the initial OWE sector. And so, at the end of August, I did something that many people would regard as verging on madness, but which made perfect sense to me :

  • Flew EDI-LHR-CAI on Friday 29th - a very pleasant trip in BA's World Traveller Plus (premier economy) cabin
  • Stayed Saturday 30th in Cairo (based in the beautifully appointed Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel) and picked up my OWE
  • Returned CAI-LHR-EDI on Sunday 31st, wallowing in the luxury and sophistication of my "first FIRST"
  • Went back to work on Monday morning as if nothing had happened (although a few of my colleagues knew what I had been up to!)

And so here I am, enjoying my first OWE stopover - in the UK! - and eagerly awaiting that magical date in February 2004 when the main part of the trip gets underway.

Note : I do not wish to spell out here all the ins and outs of setting up a trip such as this using a ticket bought in another part of the world (although the arrangements are of course 100% above-board!) All the information needed to go about this is freely available on the Internet and the above already contains some heavy hints about what may be necessary in order to achieve the maximum possible cost-effectiveness. An essential requirement, aside from a keen interest in travel and a willingness to immerse yourself in fare rules, is the ability to think unconventionally.