I recently overheard a conversation in which both parties lamented the death of the travel deal, reminiscing about the good ol’ days of cheap travel, paying their respects.
Sure, like everything, travel has gone up incrementally over the years and the recent lack of lunatic-low airfares of the ‘golden age’ have made travel only seem more expensive, but let’s not confuse extinction with evolution.
The travel deal is very much alive; it has just morphed from obscene, unsustainable price points to a more mature, value-packed proposition, equally appealing if you look at its components.
What if I was to tell you that you could fly to San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Frankfurt and New York City, return from Toronto, for less than the price of a return economy fare between Toronto and Vancouver?
I know. It sounds crazy but here’s the math;
Although never promoted and usually purchased by business travellers on the company dollar who need maximum flexibility (fully refundable/changeable), an Air Canada ‘full economy’ Latitude fare between Toronto and Vancouver is roughly $1300, one way, tax included – doubling to almost $2700, if you’d like to return.
In comparison, a Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance) ticket from Toronto, taking in two iconic North American hubs (NYC & San Francisco), two Asian hot spots (Hong Kong & Singapore), your gateway to the South Pacific (Sydney) and a central European gem (Frankfurt), comes in at a jaw-dropping $2389, including all taxes. Start and end the trip in Vancouver with an additional stop in Toronto and you’re still doing well, with an all inclusive price tag of $2735.
These unpublished, ‘Round the World’ tickets are flexible with date changes allowed (for a fee) and a maximum stay of a full year. Unfortunately, the lead-in fare won’t earn you any frequent flyer points BUT, here’s the deal behind the deal.
For a booking class upgrade (still an economy seat) of about $100 round-trip, Star Alliance frequent flyers (including Aeroplan members) earn over 25,000 mileage points, enough for a free round-trip ticket with Air Canada, anywhere in the continental USA and Canada. A great perk to look forward to when you return with the travel bug from all your globetrotting. Again, that’s a total of six international destinations PLUS a free flight later, all for under $2500 – not too shabby, I’d say!
What really sweetens the deal is the quality of the product. Where the sultry cheap airfares of the past were usually with near-bankrupt, fly-by-night charter operations, this world-wide adventure shuttles you between metropolises on state-of-the-art equipment (Airbus A380 anyone?) and is operated by one of the world’s finest airlines.
Disclaimer: Now, one could argue that Air Canada’s almost $3000 price tag on a return ticket between Toronto and Vancouver is ridiculous, and while true, it doesn’t negate how good the above deal really is. To be fair, it is also worth noting that Air Canada’s most expensive economy fare was used for this comparison – they do also offer very competitive fares.
The above example isn’t an anomaly either. There are various multi-stop fares out there to make your mouth water, if you’re willing to use an airline’s network of worldwide hubs as your stopover points.
Torontonians can enjoy Paris, Athens and Istanbul with Air Canada for only $1399 – usually the cost of a return flight to Istanbul alone.
How about Los Angeles, Cook Islands, Sydney, Auckland and Hawaii from Vancouver with Air New Zealand for $1549? Sound good? There are others, all available if you take your available stopovers, to and from your destination.
It’s baffling that perhaps the biggest value-for-money ticket hasn’t caught on in Canada like it has in other parts of the world.
Australians are as familiar with Round the World tickets as they are with Whistler. Prompted by geographic isolation, a healthy sense of adventure and the actual time to do it, it is virtually a right-of-passage for Aussie’s to leave their homeland shortly after Uni for a nice stiff shot of life experience on the back of a Round the World ticket. Brits too – and with a currency as strong as the Pound Sterling, many there use these types of fares regularly.
Canadians? Not so much. Mainly because these fares are rarely advertised but also because we tend to think that we simply don’t have the vacation time to take advantage of the opportunities these tickets offer. While the maximum stay on these fares may be a full year, the minimum stay requirement is usually just a week. If you’ve got three, four or more weeks, these types of tickets are very worthy of a serious look.
So bankroll your holiday time to head out for the priceless life experience that travel undoubtedly provides and take advantage of one of the industry’s very best travel deals.