Around the world with many stops

Travel Q&A

July 14, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Is there such a thing as an around-the-world plane ticket that lets you make as many stops as you like?

There is, and several American airline companies offer one. Most of these fares require passengers to fly either east or west without backtracking. A ticket usually must be bought seven or 14 days ahead of the first leg, which must be reserved; subsequent stops can be booked ahead or as the trip progresses. There is usually a penalty for making changes on the first leg. The airlines may impose a limit -- maximum or minimum -- on how many stopovers are allowed or whether side trips may be taken. The whole ticket generally must be used within one year.

The price of Northwest's around-the-world fares depends on which one of a list of cooperating airlines a passenger chooses. With KLM, the most popular partner, according to Northwest, a passenger starting in North America must make at least three stopovers (though no more than four may be within the continental United States, Alaska and Canada). Two European side trips, out of Amsterdam, are permitted. The price in coach is $2,570; in business class $3,618; in first class $4,518.

Delta, in conjunction with Swissair and Singapore Airlines, offers two mileage-based fares. Only one stopover is allowed in any city, but passengers can backtrack or make side trips, except in the country in which the travel begins. Travelers must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and only once. One option allows a total of 25,000 miles and excludes travel through Africa, the southwest Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) and South America. The price is $2,200 in coach, $3,500 in business class and $5,000 in first class. The other option allows a total of 32,000 miles, without the geographic restrictions of the first option. This fare is $2,970 in coach, $4,375 in business class and $6,200 in first class. In either plan, business-class passengers can upgrade any single segment to first class for $100. To get 1,500 extra miles, the cost is $100 for coach, $150 business class and $200 first class; for 3,000 miles those prices are doubled.

United Airlines also offers a mileage-based fare. For $2,570 in coach, $3,618 in business class and $5,019 in first class, a passenger can fly a total of 28,500 miles on United and any of 30 partner airlines. Passengers must begin and end the trip in the United States and can cross the Atlantic and Pacific only one time (but need not cross both) and can stop over only once in any city. For the same prices, United also sells tickets that can be put together with any of 30 other airlines, in which passengers must travel in one direction without backtracking. The most commonly used combination of partner airlines is Lufthansa, Air Lauda and Thai Air, United says. Additionally, United offers the only around-the-world fare that can be used entirely on its own airline, at the same price as the others.

Trans World Airways has nine around-the world-options, each with a different Asia-based airline. The least expensive is with China Air: $2,199 in coach, $3,099 in business class and $4,229 in first class; no side trips. The other arrangements allow side trips to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for an additional fee. The most expensive option is with Qantas, which allows travel to Australia and New Zealand: $3,217 in coach, $5,180 in business class and $6,682 in first class.

I hope to visit the Isle of Wight to see Osborne House, the vacation house of Queen Victoria. Is it open to the public?

Osborne House, York Avenue, East Cowes, telephone (44-1983) 200022, is open to the public every day from April 1 to Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $9 ($6.75 for those aged 6 to 16) and includes access to the state rooms, private apartments and nursery, all in the main house, and a carriage ride of about three-quarters of a mile to a chalet moved to the island by Prince Albert to teach the children housekeeping and gardening.

The island, off England's south coast, is known for its Victorian architecture and forest and seaside cliffs. Ferries sail there from Portsmouth and other mainland sites. All the lines run ferries twice an hour in each direction. Only one goes to Cowes, the location of Osborne House; the house is a mile away and can be reached by taxi or bus. From other ports, you must take a car or bus.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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