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Round-the-World Tickets & Airpasses — México


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Patching together a trip that covers a large region or circles the globe with one-way tickets, each purchased separately, is going to be expensive. For frugal travelers, low-cost carriers are cheaper, but the routing possibilities are limited and there is little flexibility in scheduling. Moreover, they're volatile: their routes change frequently and they've been known to go bankrupt on short notice, leaving ticket holders hanging.

Round-the-world (RTW) tickets let travelers fly around the world and airpasses let travelers fly within a region or country at a steep discount. If México is one stop on a longer journey, these tickets could save money.

Since extensive coverage for most airlines is limited to a country or a region, RTW tickets and airpasses are usually offered through alliances of airlines and specialist travel agents who piece together discount one-way tickets with many different airlines through their in-house contacts.

Because nothing is free, these tickets come with restrictions, as as you might expect, With alliances, RTW destinations usually must be chosen upfront, although dates are flexible. Flexibility, however, goes both ways: on flights that are getting full, airlines can limit or bump ticket holders at their discretion. This can make getting desired flights difficult, especially on busy routes or during the high seasons. Generally, ticket holders must end their trips in the same country they began in; travel must be in one direction, either east or west; and certain kinds of backtracking, such as between continents and across oceans, is not allowed. Tickets cost in the range of US$1200-5000, depending on the class of service, the number of miles flown (usually between 26,000 and 40,000), and the number of continents touched down on. Most alliances have frequent flier programs that ticket holders can participate in.

The terminology and geography differs, but airpasses offered by alliances and travel agents usually restricts travel to a country, a specific set of continents, or a region. Sometimes airlines or partnerships of two airlines offer airpasses. Their coverage, however, is usually limited to the countries or regions the airlines cover.

Unlike in most places, for domestic flights in México, airlines charge by the one-way ticket. This eliminates the discount passengers usually get for booking round-trip tickets. Obviously, it depends on the specifics of a trip, but it might be cheaper and more convenient to book flights when traveling in México than it would be to try and organize them beforehand on a RTW ticket or an airpass.

That said, depending on an individual traveler's itinerary and flexibility, some RTW tickets and airpasses are flexible enough and have sufficient domestic coverage within México to warrant consideration.

www.oneworld.com Oneworld is an 11-member alliance of airlines (including Mexicana) that offers several miles-based and continent-based RTW tickets, as well as single- and multi-continent fares. Its world-wide coverage is excellent with over 700 airport destinations in almost 150 countries. Mexicana's membership in the alliance makes available 37 destinations in México that can be flown to domestically and some internationally. In addition to its RTW tickets, the multi-continent Circle Atlantic and the México and Central America fares both have coverage in México. The website is well developed with airline members' contact information, a graphical itinerary planning tool, and booking functionality.
www.skyteam.com SkyTeam is a 9-member alliance of airlines (including Aeroméxico) that offers several miles-based RTW tickets, as well as single-continent and country fares. Its world-wide coverage is excellent with over 856 airport destinations in almost 169 countries. Aeroméxico's membership in the alliance makes available 42 destinations in México that can be flown to domestically and some internationally. In addition to its RTW tickets, the America and México Passes both have coverage in México. The website is well developed with airline members' contact information and a graphical itinerary planning tool.
Mexipass Mexicana and Aeroméxico cooperatively offer this airpass for their domestic flights in México. It can be purchased outside of México through both companies' sales offices (check their websites www.mexicana.com and www.aeromexico.com for contact information) or through a cooperating travel agent.
www.staralliance.com The 27-member Star Alliance offers miles-based RTW tickets as well as several different circle and regional fares. Its world-wide coverage is the best of all the major airline alliances with 1167 airport destinations in 181 countries (31 in México). In addition to its RTW tickets, the North America Airpass has good coverage for international flights to México. The Circle Pacific fare, however, doesn't really circle the Pacific; its only stops in the Americas are on the west coasts of the US and Canada. Because there are no Méxican airlines in this alliance, it doesn't have any coverage for domestic flights within México. The website is well developed with airline members' contact information, a graphical itinerary planning tool, and booking functionality.
www.allairpass.com Hahn Air, German-based travel agency, offers regional airpasses with coverage in India, Asia, and the Americas. Its All America Airpass covers all of the US, México, Central America, Caribbean, and South America. Mexicana and Aeromar's participation give this airpass substantial coverage within México. Unfortunately, it cannot be purchased in any of the countries it covers. Check website for country-by-country contact information.
www.airtreks.com Airtreks, a San Francisco-based travel agency, specializes in RTW and international multi-stop trips. Its website has an excellent graphical tool, TripPlanner, which is a good resource for constructing and pricing itineraries to hundreds of destinations around the world. To maximize value, TripPlanner, suggests similar, more extensive trips in the same price range. In the US call toll-free 1-877-247-8735, from outside the US call 1-415-977-7100.
www.travel-nation.co.uk Travel Nation, a UK-based travel agency, specializes in RTW trips and adventure tours. In the UK call 01273 320 580, from outside the UK call +44 1273 320 580.
www.roundtheworldflights.com Round the World Flights, a UK-based travel agency, specializes in RTW trips. In the UK call 020 7704 5700, in the Republic or Ireland call 0818 332928, and from everywhere else outside the UK call +44 020 7704 5700.


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