Fly Round The World with Velocity points (16-flights, 35,000-miles)

This article was published some time ago and content may be out-of-date.  Airlines are continually changing their loyalty programs. Always double-check with the airline. 

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Overview

If you’re looking to plan a significant international holiday – and have saved up a bunch of Velocity points – this guide’s for you!

Although Velocity doesn’t offer a direct redemption, you can transfer your points to KrisFlyer miles and redeem a Round The World trip flying Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance airlines!

The Star Alliance Round The World reward allows you to build a 35,000-mile, 7-stopover itinerary for just 240,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business (or 324,000 transferred-in Velocity points). This is 2 more stopovers than the Qantas Round The World redemption!

An Economy reward is also available (180,000 KrisFlyer Miles or 243,000 Velocity points) however Business is by far the sweet-spot. Unless you already have a truckload of Velocity points to burn, you’re much better off targeting the Qantas Round The World reward if you’re happy with a pew at the back of the plane (140,000 points in Economy).

Like the Qantas option, a Business Class Round The World cash fare comes at a significant price, so it’s easily one of the best ways to use your Velocity points! If you avoid high-taxing ports and choose low surcharge airlines, the cash-co-payment, which covers airline-imposed surcharges and government taxes, is also quite reasonable.

Guide contents

Velocity Reward Seats

Redeem your Velocity points for reward seats on Virgin Australia and its partner carriers around the world.

Qantas Round The World Reward

The Qantas oneworld® reward allows you to include up to 16 flight sectors and 35,000 miles in one itinerary.  It offers some serious value, setting you back just 140,000 points in Economy or 280,000 in Business.

Transferring Velocity points to KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines)

If you don’t already have one, you’ll require a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account. Create one for free, here.

Once your account is active, you can transfer your Velocity points online. Simply log-in to your Velocity account and click on ‘Points Transfer – Airlines’ in the side menu.

First, you’ll have to ‘Link’ your Velocity account with your KrisFlyer account by adding your account number. Your accounts must have the same name and DOB on each – you cannot transfer points to another person. However, you can use Velocity’s Family Pooling feature to consolidate your Velocity points to one account before transferring them on to Krisflyer. If you wish to book two or more seats together, you should book them together.

To transfer, simply select the number of Velocity points you wish to transfer and confirm. View the Velocity – Krisflyer required points table below to determine how many points you’ll need. Learn more about transferring your Velocity points to Singapore Airlines for more reward seat options.

Velocity point Round The World features

Your Velocity point Round The World itinerary can include the following features:

  • Up to 16 flight sectors
  • Up to 35,000 miles
  • 7 Stopovers at different locations
  • An itinerary up to 12 months long
  • Book multiple seats in the same booking

Learn more about the specific rules for the Round The World Reward here.

Star Alliance partners

In addition to Singapore Airlines, you can book across the 25-member Star Alliance network, which features some of the world’s best airlines including ANA, United Airlines and Air Canada.

It’s important to mention that KrisFlyer passes on both a) government taxes and b) airline-imposed surcharges for Star Alliance reward seats. However, only (typically cheaper) taxes are charged on Singapore Airlines flights.

With this in mind, there are a few main rules to follow (where possible), in order to keep your cash co-payment in check.

  1. Always try to use Singapore Airlines where available (a great option when either departing or returning to Australia to Asia and on to Europe or the US).
  2. Avoid, or workaround, high-taxing ports
  3. Choose low surcharge airlines (when you’re not flying with Singapore). These include Air New Zealand, ANA, United Airlines, Air Canada and Avianca.
  4. Avoid European based carriers for long-haul travel (instead, travel to/from Europe via Singapore Airlines, a recommended low surcharge Asian carrier, or a US partner. Intra-Europe travel is OK, as surcharges are more reasonable.

Click here to launch tips section in a new window and refer to our recommendations when planning your itinerary.

Round The World vs Velocity reward seats

To show the value involved in booking a Round The World redemption with your Velocity points, we’ll compare it against a popular long-haul Business reward obtained directly through Velocity.

For example, it will set you back 309,000 points to fly from Sydney to New York return in Business with Velocity partner, Etihad. By comparison, transferring your Velocity points to KrisFlyer to redeem the Round The World Reward will cost you 324,000 Velocity points. That’s 20,000 miles of extra travel and 6 more stopovers for just 15,000 additional Velocity points!

But what about taxes? Even though our example is in Business (which involves higher taxes), the cash co-payment still comes in at just over $1,000! Also consider we’ve pushed our itinerary to the reward’s limits to secure the most value. If your route is more direct, and you’re pickier in selecting low-surcharging airlines, you can reduce this a lot. In contrast, the Etihad round-trip reward alone would require a hefty $1,300 cash co-payment!

The comparison is a little less pronounced in Economy, with the same flight costing you 165,000 Velocity points direct against 243,000 (the Qantas oneworld reward is your best bet in Economy). Remember, the Velocity direct redemption only allows one stopover and it requires a hefty cash co-payment.

The table below displays these comparisons:

  • SYD-NYC = The Sydney – New York reward seat example (referred above)
  • RTW (KF) = KrisFlyer miles required
  • RTW (VA) = Velocity points required

It’s also important to assess the flexibility offered in the Velocity point Round The World redemption. This includes a generous 7 stopovers and the option to plan a trip that spans a maximum of 12 months! You just don’t get these options with a standard Velocity reward seat!

Business is the sweet-spot

Using your Velocity points to book a Round The Word reward in Business is one of the cheapest ways to experience lie-flat travel. If you were to buy a business itinerary with cash, you could spend upwards of $15,000!

That’s not to say the Economy deal is poor value, however, the Qantas Round The World reward in Economy will set you back significantly less.

The First Class option is great if you have Velocity points to burn, with a Round The World trip the in the most luxurious travel class costing up to $30,000! This being said, not all airlines operate a First cabin, so although you’ll have to settle for Business on some routes, you’ll pay the full First rate. This weakens the deal.

The main rules

To begin your Velocity point Round The World itinerary, you’ll first want to jot down your desired travel plans. You’re obviously required to use airlines in the Star Alliance.

You’ll have to consider the following:

Stopover limit (7 total, 2 in any one country)

Stopovers are defined as stops exceeding 24 hours. You’re allowed a maximum of 7, which is generous. By comparison, the Qantas Round The World reward permits only 5. You may stopover twice in any one country.

Unfortunately the Star Alliance Round The World reward treats ‘surface sectors’ as 2 stopovers, not 1 like Qantas (a surface sector consists of any travel that you book separately from your reward itinerary). You can make alternative arrangements to travel to your surface sector destination.

Flight sector limit (16)

A flight sector is any flight with a different flight number. The Round The World reward allows up to 16 flight sectors. Many international reward seats have layovers between two or more flight sectors on the same ticket.

The high 16 flight sector limit is nice to have up your sleeve in scheduling day-long layovers (a ‘day-stop’) at a particular location. This isn’t counted as a stopover if you keep your connecting flight within 24 hours of touching down. Day-stops can help you use every one of your 35,000-miles!

Miles, time limit & direction rules (35,000 miles, 12 months)

You can build up to 35,000 miles of travel into your Velocity point Round The World itinerary.

You must complete your itinerary in what is generally an east to westbound direction, however, in our experiences, small routing that goes backwards for transit reasons are acceptable. If you get knocked back by the KrisFlyer representative that answers the phone, simply call back later. Read more about this in our example itinerary. You’re also required to cross each of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans once.

The Velocity Round The World reward requires your starting and finishing nations to be the same country (e.g. Australia), however, your flights can begin and end in different cities.

You have a lengthy 12 months to complete your trip.

Planning your Velocity Round The World trip

Planning and booking any Round The World itinerary is a lengthy process. This is made more complex due to the difficulty involved in locating reward seats, where availability is limited. Because of this, you’ll definitely need to pre-plan your final itinerary before you book.

Use GCM’s Mapper

As we mentioned above, you’ll need to ensure that you don’t exceed the any of the limits mentioned above (miles = 35,000, stopovers exceeding 24 hours = 7; flight sectors = 16; same country flight sectors = 2).

It’s strongly recommended that you research Star Alliance reward seat options via the searching process to get a feel for routing. Google Flights is also a nice resource, which allows you to filter by Star Alliance carrier to check possible flights (but it doesn’t show reward seat availability).

Once you’ve drafted your itinerary, including transit stops, you can add it to a tool like the GCM Mapper (here’s our example mapped out). To map a path (and sum the total miles), simply add the relevant airport codes in the following format. e.g. in our example below, our itinerary is: SYD-SIN-LHR-LIS-MAD-GRU-BOG-JFK-YVR-HND-SYD. You must calculate your miles by adding all flight sectors (e.g. add the connecting flight’s airport).

We’ll almost guarantee that you’ll need to revisit your itinerary at some point. This may be due to a number of factors, including a lack of availability on the dates you wish to travel, or a change of plans. When you make a change, be sure to update your map to ensure you stick within the rules. Naturally, this makes the planning process messy, so ensure you do everything you can to research Star Alliance flight route options and availability as early in the process as possible.

Below, we’ve used the GCM’s Mapping Tool to plan our Velocity Round The World reward. This itinerary comes in at 10 flight sectors, 34,313 miles and 7 stopovers (jump to our full example for more).

Velocity point Round The World itinerary - GCM Mapping Tool

Use the GCM Mapping Tool to plan your Velocity point Round The World itinerary

Here’s the direct link to our example’s map.

Download the Velocity Round The World assistant

Once you’re happy with the seats that you’ve located via the searching process, you’ll need to record each flight sector’s details.

Download our Velocity Round The World Assistant, where you can track flight details, sectors, miles, taxes and stopovers. The tool calculates a running total so that you keep within the limits. It can also be handy to track the cash co-payment. Refer to your itinerary’s draft map for each flight sector’s miles. Download the spreadsheet here.

A note on Star Alliance reward seat availability

The flights that make up your Velocity Round The World reward are limited to the Star Alliance reward seats available at the time of booking. Business seats are always going to be in greater demand, so if you’re looking for a redemption at the pointy end, you must be flexible. If you’re travelling for leisure and your plans are open, you’ll likely have more success.

For example, Star Alliance reward availability on flights to/from/within the United States is notoriously limited. Be sure to research availability before you begin. Read our Velocity Round The World tips for more information.

Most Star Alliance partners release their reward seats around 330 days from scheduled departure. Try searching from this point to uncover better availability. The closer you search after this date, the more chance you’ll have securing seats (as the popular seats will be snapped up by someone else!).

Searching for Star Alliance reward seats

We’re going to search for our desired flights through two main sources, 1) Singapore Airlines and 2) United Airlines.

It’s best to search for each stopover trip individually, or, for even more flexibility and availability scouting, you can search per flight sector (the flights between any layovers). Be sure to research the potential connecting-flight options for each destination so you know what sectors to search for.

We’re going to locate seats as per our example itinerary (Business Class). As per our strong recommendation to use Singapore Airlines where possible, we’re going to search for our first two trips with Singapore Airlines via the Singapore Airlines method, with stopovers in Singapore and London. All remaining flights will be located via the United Airlines method.

Due to their extensive flight schedule from and to Australia, Singapore Airlines should be your preferential carrier either at the start (if routing westbound from Australia, as per our example) or end of your trip (if routing eastbound). Singapore Airlines offer an industry-leading product and their new Business Class suites on A380 flights between Sydney-Singapore-London need to be seen to be believed! We recommend you use Singapore as your main transit path to Asia and Europe as we’ve done in our example itinerary (or in the opposite direction if routing your itinerary in an eastbound direction).

All Singapore Airlines operated flights should be searched via their website, as the popular carrier opens up more reward space to their own KrisFlyer members. As you’ve transferred your Velocity points to redeem the Star Alliance Round The World reward, this means you! As Singapore Airlines’ network doesn’t suit all Asian travel plans, you can locate reward seats with other Star Alliance carriers in the region. Find out how here.

To begin locating an identified Singapore Airlines reward, launch their website, log in to your KrisFlyer account and select ‘Book Flights’. Make sure you select ‘Redeem Flights’ before adding your search details. As per our itinerary plan, we’ve scheduled our first stopover in London, with a layover in Singapore. As this is an extremely popular route, it’s best to check availability as two separate flight sectors.

First, we’re searching for Sydney to Singapore. The required cash co-payment is listed once a seat is selected. Note, Singapore Airlines do not apply fuel surcharges to their own reward flights, only government/ airport taxes. Airline-imposed surcharges are only applicable to Star Alliance partners.

Your results will then be presented on the following screen. A few important things to be aware of. Only the ‘Saver’ reward seat inventory can be added to Star Alliance Round The World redemptions. Secondly, ‘wait-list’ means there is no current availability (which is prioritised to KrisFlyer members with high status). Avoid these completely.

We’re happy with the selected flight. The required cash co-payment is listed once a seat is selected. Note, all taxes are provided for informational purposes only. You should check the current and specific taxes with KrisFlyer directly.

We’ll now look for our second flight sector from Singapore to London. This example shows the potential of day-stops, which are great if you want to see as much as the world as possible! Obviously, day-stops won’t fit everyone’s plans, but it does show how you can be creative with your routing. Be sure to keep your layovers under 24 hours. If you go over, you’ll use one of your 7 valuable stopovers.

Day-stops are great for cities with excellent transport links, allowing you to do some quick sight-seeing. Singapore Airlines actually offers a popular City Tour, which is available free to their customers. If you’re on a Business flight, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Singapore Airlines Silverkris Lounge.

Let’s search for a flight that connects within 24-hours (we’re arriving into Singapore at 2.15pm on Wednesday, June 6).

The selected flight works nicely, departing at 12.45am on Thursday, June 7 (a 10-hour day-trip opportunity). Note, the required cash co-payment is listed Singapore dollars as we’re searching from a non-Australian departure port.

Once you’re happy with your first trip, write down each flight sector’s details (here we have 2). Use the Velocity Round The World Reward spreadsheet, where you can add the flight details, number of sectors, miles, taxes and stopover points. This tool calculates a running total so that you keep within the limits. It can also be handy to track the cash co-payment by adding it into every row. Refer to your itinerary’s draft map for each flight sector’s miles. Download the planner here.

We’ll add our first two flight sectors to the Velocity Round The World Assistant. After arriving in London we’re using our first stopover (6 remaining), having burned 2 flight sectors (15 remaining) and 10,673 miles (24,322 remaining).

We’ve now completed all of our Singapore Airlines trips and can move onto the United search method for our remaining Star Alliance flights.

After our first stopover in London, we’re going to show a tip for saving on the excessive Air Passenger Duty charged on to passengers who depart UK airports. This is especially the case if you have a premium ticket, like Business.

The loophole involves booking your next flight sector at a distance within 2,000 miles, as the duty on-charge for flights within 0-2,000 miles of your UK departure port is low (~$30 in Economy or ~$50 for Business/ First). In our example, we’ve scheduled a visit to Lisbon, Portugal for our second stopover. By keeping close to the UK as opposed to scheduling a long-haul flight to our next destination, we’ve saved over $300 in government taxes. Learn more about avoiding high taxing transit hubs.

#2. United Airlines website

The best source for all non-Singapore Airlines Star Alliance airlines is United’s advanced search. You don’t even require United’s MileagePlus membership to search for reward space. Simply launch the advanced search and enter your destination and date. Be sure to check ‘award ticket‘, ‘one-way trip‘ and ‘my dates are flexible‘.

United’s standard search tool sometimes doesn’t show all reward seat availability. The advanced search, with ‘flexible dates’ ticked, yields much better results. So we recommend using it for all non-Singapore Airlines Star Alliance searches.

The ‘connections‘ checkbox is also a handy feature. Use this to refine your flight results if you know the exact transit path to your destination. This will save you a lot of time. For instance, via a quick Google Flights search (learn more about using Google flights as a Star Alliance routing assistant) tells us there’s plenty of ‘nonstop’ flights for our next flight from London to Lisbon.

Let’s locate our next flight via the United advanced search (London to Lisbon, Portugal).

 

Because we’ve selected ‘my dates are flexible’, the United Airlines search returns a handy month-long availability view. Click on a specific date to view available reward space. Note the premium cabin (Business Class) availability. Like Singapore Airlines, only the ‘Saver’ seats can be added to your Round The World itinerary.

We’ve located a TAP Portugal seat in Business. This service is a regional Business Class offering, so you won’t get a flat-bed, but the flight product and lounge is quite good.

United’s taxes are listed below the miles requirement once a seat is selected (check ‘Australia‘ as your billing address on the advanced search page to return United’s taxes in AUD). It’s important to mention that these should only be used as a guide, with KrisFlyer applying airline-imposed surcharges (if present) on top of any government taxes.

Read on to learn more about calculating the total cash co-payment required for each non-Singapore Airlines Star Alliance flight (which we also explore in detail here).

Your results will then be presented on the following screen. To learn more about the flight, click on the ‘Details’ link on each result (in this case: flight no: TP 361; aircraft: Airbus A320). This is handy information if you want to search for Business Class reviews online for a particular airline/aircraft combination.

 

Now to calculate the total cash co-payment for this flight. As we mentioned, we must pay any airline-imposed surcharges (usually fuel based) on top of the cash amount displayed in the United search results (which are government taxes only).

If you don’t want any nasty surprises when contacting KrisFlyer to book your final itinerary, you can track airline surcharges via Google’s ITA Matrix, which provides a very accurate estimated break-down of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees. Simply search for your flight (any dates will do) and select AUD as the currency. Add the surcharges (coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in ITA Matrix results) with all tax items. For our London – Lisbon flight, the break-down is: Taxes = $70 + Surcharge = $99.20. This will add $170 to our itinerary’s cash co-payment.

After our second stopover (5 remaining), we can now update our Velocity Round The World Assistant having used 3 flight sectors (14 remaining) and 11,646 miles (23,354 remaining).

This section continues with a full walk-through of our entire Round The World itinerary. Although this provides valuable examples, you can skip to the next section here.

Our next flight is Lisbon to Madrid, Spain. Although the Round The World redemption stipulates that your itinerary can only be routed in either a west or eastbound direction, in our experiences, one or two minor backward routings within the same continent are OK.

If you get knocked back by the KrisFlyer representative that answers the phone, simply call back later. If you’d prefer to confirm yourself, phone the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer redemption team (they have Australian customer support) with your specific travel plans.

We’ve located another TAP Portugal flight in Business.

After our third stopover in Madrid (4 remaining), we’ll update our Velocity Round The World Assistant. We’ve used up 4 flight sectors (13 remaining) and 11,966 miles (23,034 remaining).

On-to our next flight, which is Madrid to Sao Paulo, Brazil. In this case, we’ve researched a couple of options via the planning process.

(1) A direct flight on Air China (who apply noticeable fuel surcharges – in this case over $300) and (2) a 1-stop indirect flight with Avianca. As our pre-planned itinerary is barely under the 35,000-mile limit, a direct flight is our only option, so we’ll again have to wear surcharge contributing to a higher total cash co-payment. This will be our last high surcharge flight, however.

Air China’s lie-flat Business Class suite on their 787 Dreamliner is actually quite good.

After our fourth stopover in Sao Paulo (3 remaining), we’ll update our Velocity Round The World Assistant. We’ve used up 5 flight sectors (11 remaining) and 17,159 miles (17,841 remaining).

After doing some research, to get to our next stopover location, New York, we’re going to have to connect via Bogota, Columbia.

With some routes, like this one, there’s a lot of trial and error involved, and you may have to re-adjust your itinerary map. As always, being flexible with your dates helps. For example, we moved our Sao Paulo departure back a few days so to avoid a flight with a long layover in Bogota (most other dates were an awkward 8+ hours). But everyone’s different. You may opt for a longer layover and keep your preferred dates. If you’re flying Business, consider you’ll have access to premium lounges to refresh with a shower and grab breakfast/lunch/dinner.

We’ve gone with a one-stop flight from Sao Paulo to New York (via Bogota, Columbia) flying Avianca, who offers a great Business Class product. We strongly recommend Avianca for travel throughout the Americas, as they don’t apply any airline-imposed surcharges!

We’ve circled all the important details in the screenshot below (note the layover time and aircraft information).

After our fifth stopover in New York (2 remaining), we’ve lopped off 7 flight sectors (10 remaining) and 22,319 miles (12,678 remaining). Remember to update the Velocity Round The World Assistant.

We’re off to Vancouver, Canada for our next stopover.

As we’ve already noted, availability on flights to/from/within the United States can be scarce. Be sure to consider availability before finalising your itinerary, as you may need to build your tip around available flights. If you’re flexible with dates, you’re more likely to have success.

We’ve located a nice direct flight onboard Air Canada’s Dreamliner, which offers a great lie-flat Business suite. Air Canada is another great Star Alliance carrier that doesn’t pass on any surcharges.

After our sixth stopover in Vancouver (1 remaining), we’ve used up 8 flight sectors (still 8 remaining) and 24,771 miles (10,229 remaining).

We’re nearing the end of our journey! Now for our last stopover in Tokyo, Japan. Remember to update the Velocity Round The World Assistant.

Here, we’ve found a direct flight with “Japan’s only five-star airline”, ANA (All Nippon Airways).  If you get the opportunity, we definitely recommend trying out ANA’s 787 Dreamliner suites at the pointy end. Not only is their hard product one of the best in the business, ANA’s traditional Japanese service and food are outstanding.

ANA does apply fuel surcharges, however, at the time of booking the cash fare flight was quoted at over $6,000 on Google Flights! Although most would never book that, a surcharge of $80 (total cash co-payment of $136 including taxes) seems reasonable in comparison!

After our final stopover in Tokyo (0 remaining), we’ve used up 9 flight sectors (7 remaining) and 29,480 miles (5,520 remaining). Remember to update the Velocity Round The World Assistant.

We’re now heading back home to Sydney! As we touched on earlier, the Velocity – Star Alliance Round The World Reward rules stipulate that your journey can only be routed in a single continuing direction (either west or east). However, in our experiences, limited routings that go slightly backwards (our trip from Tokyo to Sydney) are acceptable. If your itinerary is rejected by the staff member in the Krisflyer call centre, simply phone back later (KrisFlyer have Australian customer support). If you’d prefer, feel free to confirm your proposed routing before your finalise your itinerary.

Luckily, we’ve found availability on ANA’s Dreamliner again! This time around the Tokyo – Sydney leg, which had a ticket price of over $6,500 when booking, had a fuel surcharge of $130 ($190 cash co-payment including taxes).

After touching down in Sydney we’ve used up 10 flight sectors (6 unused) and 34,313 miles (687 unused). We’ll update our spreadsheet. Remember, our final stop isn’t a stopover, as we’ve completed our itinerary.

Booking & changes

You can only book Velocity Round The World rewards via Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer call centre (in Australia, phone 02 8228 1188). You cannot book online. There is a small fee for booking over the phone, however, this will be waived as your Velocity point Round The World booking cannot be done online.

Before you call, ensure your final itinerary is in order, making sure you’ve followed the rules. This is where our Round The World Assistant comes in very handy. KrisFlyer’s membership team may also accept or even request that your itinerary is submitted over email, but it’s best to phone initially and clarify any issues before you email your plan.

It’s also important to reiterate that you’ll be up for a cash co-payment, to cover government taxes and airline-imposed surcharges, at the time of booking.

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer redemptions come with a good amount of flexibility and the Star Alliance Round The World reward is no exception. Changes and cancellations made 24 hours prior to departure attract a $25/$75US charge. The fee is charged each time you call to make changes.

Unlike the Qantas Round The World reward, you cannot change your itinerary after it begins.

Cash co-payment (taxes + airline imposed surcharges)

Using your Velocity points for a Star Alliance Round The World redemption requires a cash co-payment, of which there are two components, government/ airport taxes and airline-imposed surcharges. Airline-imposed surcharges, which are usually fuel based, are only applicable to Star Alliance partners. Singapore Airlines’ own reward seats only require taxes.

Government and airport taxes
Airline imposed fees
Government and airport taxes

Governments and airports charge carriers taxes and fees, which find their way onto your ticket. We’ve provided some comments on high tax countries and airports here.

Airline imposed fees

Airline-imposed taxes include fees like fuel surcharges (surcharges are coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in airline ticketing).

Google’s ITA Matrix (see more above) is the best way to find an estimated breakdown of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees for each flight in your itinerary, which are pretty accurate. Simply search for your flight (any dates will do) and select AUD as the currency.

We’ve provided an example break-down below of a flight that features in our example itinerary. Simply sum the surcharges (coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in ITA Matrix results) with all tax items. In our example below, this equals $137 AUD.

Our top tips

Choose low surcharge Star Alliance airlines

Although Singapore Airlines don’t add airline-imposed surcharges to their own rewards (only government/ airport taxes), they do for Star Alliance partner seats. However, there are many Star Alliance carriers that don’t apply surcharges. Google’s ITA Matrix (see more above) is the best way to find an estimated breakdown of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees for each flight in your itinerary, which are pretty accurate. Simply search for your flight (any dates will do).

Some Star Alliance airlines charge high airline-imposed surcharges, which are applied on top of government/airport taxes. Below we’ve provided a list of some of the most reasonable carriers that you should try to stick with in order to reduce your final cash co-payment. You should also try to route your itinerary low taxing transit hubs in order to reduce government taxes and airport charges.

Some of the main takeaways:

  1. Always try to use Singapore Airlines where available (a great option when either departing or returning to Australia to Asia and on to Europe or the US).
  2. Choose low surcharge partner airlines (when you’re not flying with Singapore). These include Air New Zealand, ANA, United Airlines, Air Canada and Avianca.
  3. Avoid European based carriers for long-haul travel (instead, travel to/from Europe via Singapore Airlines or a recommended low surcharge Asian or US partner. Intra-Europe travel is OK as surcharges are more reasonable.

We’ve provided some recommendations on the best Star Alliance carriers to build into your itinerary below.

Asia/Pacific/Australia
Americas/ Canada
UK/Europe
Asia/Pacific/Australia

When flying to/from/within the Asia/Pacific region including Australia.

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be a lot lower.

No Surcharge (govt. taxes only)

Partner Example Surcharge
Sing. Air

(SING)

Syd-Sing

Sing-Lon

$0

$0

Air NZ

(NZ)

Syd-Akl

Akl-LAX

$0

$0

Low Surcharge

Partner Example Surcharge
ANA

(JAP)

Tok-Beij

Van-Tok

$30

$90

Asiana

(KOR)

Syd-Seo

Seo-NYC

$51

$60

THAI

(THA)

Syd-Bgk

Syd-Lon

$0

$0

Americas/ Canada

When flying to/from (mostly Europe) and within North and South America and Canada

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be significantly lower.

No/Low Surcharge

Partner Example Surcharge
United

(USA)

LAX-NYC

Syd-LAX

$0

$0

Air Can

(CA)

NYC-Van

Van-Tok

$0

$90

Avianca

(S/Am)

San-Lim

Sao-NYC

$0

$0

UK/Europe

When flying to/from and within continental Europe.

Unfortunately most European based Star Alliance carriers charge moderate to high fuel surcharges, especially long-haul flights that arrive or depart continental Europe. We strongly recommend making your way to Europe with one of the low-surcharge Asian and American carriers mentioned above.

Continental European travel is more affordable on-board European based Star Alliance partners. Polish carrier LOT is good option for short flights to/from Warsaw, SAS for Scandinavia, and Turkish also reasonable for short trips. Swiss, Lufthansa and TAP Portugal are all pretty high, so avoid these if at all possible.

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be significantly lower.

Low Surcharge (intra-Europe flights)

Partner Example Surcharge
LOT

(POL)

War-Lon $30
SAS

(SWE)

Sto-Rom $50
Turkish

(TKY)

Ist-Lon $75

Avoid high-tax transit hubs

Try to avoid flying into high-taxing airports. The main region to note is the UK, whose government charge an Air Passenger Duty on every ticket. This is the major contributor to airlines’ tax co-payments for flights departing the UK. The tax is significant if you’re flying in a premium cabin like Business Class.

Even if you need to stop in a UK airport, there is a workaround that almost avoids the duty. If your itinerary permits, try to plan your UK departing flight at a distance of under 2,000 miles. The duty is negligible within the 0-2,000 miles band (approximately $30 in Economy or $50 for Business/ First Class). We’ve used this tip when flying out of London in our example Velocity Round The Wold itinerary, where we saved over $300 in taxes!

The higher taxes are not charged for connecting flights stopping under 24 hours with a single carrier and on the same booking.

Asia
UK
Europe
US/Canada
South America
Asia

Singapore and Japan are great Asian hubs with low government and airport charges. Singapore Airlines (Singapore hub) and Nippon ANA (Tokyo) are great Velocity – Star Alliance Round The World redemption options.

UK

All departures from UK based airports are charged an Air Passenger Duty. This is a significant part each airline’s co-payment that you’ll pay when flying out of UK airports. The tax is obscenely large if you’re in a premium cabin, like Business. The higher taxes are significantly smaller for short flights (0-2,000 miles), and they are not charged for transit flights (flights with a connection in London).

Europe

Ireland, Poland and to a lesser extent Scandinavia and Italy are low-taxing hubs. These can be great options for European entry/ exit points. German and French airports can be expensive options.

US/Canada

Flying in, within, and out of the US is generally cost-effective. You won’t experience too much damage here.

South America

South American airports generally attract very low government fees and charges. Brazil is a great hub for departing long-haul flights as the nation prohibits carriers from applying surcharges. Be careful of flights departing, Panama, however, as there’s VAT, along with departure taxes to contend with.

Be flexible

Naturally, Velocity Round The World redemptions are taken up by leisure travellers who have flexible travel plans. This helpful, as piecing together individual flights can be difficult due to limited availability. This is especially the case in Business Class when booking two or more seats.

Travel plans
Book ahead
Search hard
Travel plans

Be flexible with travel dates (even location). You can also save on taxes by high-taxing regions.

Book ahead

Most Star Alliance partners release their reward seats about 330 days-out from scheduled departure. Try searching from this date for maximum availability.

Search hard

Reward space is sometimes released a lot closer to the scheduled departure date. Keep searching to secure your seat!

Use Google Flights to research flight routing options

Google Flights can assist you in getting a better feel for Star Alliance routing options. Here’s our specific Google Flights search query, which you can amend to your requirements (note the filters we have switched on to locate this flight sector: Business; Nonstop; Star Alliance).

Another benefit of Google Flights is that when you expand each flight, you can see what aircraft you’ll be flying on. In the example below, we’re travelling on a nice 787 Dreamliner with lie-flat Business Class. You can then research the aircraft and seat by performing your own search.

Search flight sectors individually

A big tip for locating reward space is searching for each flight sectors separately, as you can sometimes find more options. For example, in our itinerary’s first flight from Sydney to London, we searched Sydney to Singapore (Flight 1) and then Singapore to London (Flight 2).

Contact the KrisFlyer call centre

KrisFlyer’s Australian call centre (02 8228 1188) is generally very helpful in providing assistance to help you build your Velocity point Round The World itinerary. However, the service probably won’t be consistent between each representative. For example, some reps may allow minor back-tracking, while some may not. The tip here is to simply call back at a later time.

You can also send your enquiries via email.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for the very informative RTW guide – most detailed one I’ve read so far! I wonder with Krisflyer’s new website being able to search reward flights on Star Alliance/Partner airlines, we won’t need to use United’s anymore.

    Reply
    • flyerpoints.com.au
      June 26, 2018 12:37 pm

      Great to hear, Sam.

      Star Alliance space is (slowly) being added to SQ/KrisFlyer’s online reward search. However, there are a lot of problems. The United search also has its problems, but it gives you an idea of what’s possible. You can then take that info to the KF Call Centre (beware, you may have to try several operators). But, it’s worth it in the end!

      Reply

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