How to Call Delta’s RTW Desk

Back in 2014, we did a round the world trip in 30 days. During our planning phase, I screwed up a lot, causing us to spend a bit more money and time than an expert. Here, I share my mistakes so that when you finally call Delta to book your round the world ticket, you’ve got everything you need. Here’s how to call Delta’s RTW desk.

walking traveler chris englert rtw

Research, research, research. BEFORE YOU CALL.

You’ll want to be sure you understand the purpose of your trip. Is it to see as many places as possible? Stay long times in few places? Check off the 7 Wonders of the World? Knowing the purpose of your trip and being able to vocalize it will aid in the picking of your destinations and the creation of your itinerary.  Read how we did it wrong and then did it right.

Hint: The next time you have a Sky magazine in your hand, tear out the global map.

If you’re going with free miles, know how to get your miles together.

We hacked two free RTW tickets and paid for the third. Make sure you know whose frequent flyer you’ll book the tickets from and whose you’ll transfer miles out of. Thinking through how and when to do this will save you transfer fees and headaches when you call Delta. We transferred miles from my husband’s and my daughter’s account to mine, and we added in American Express reward miles. Read about how much it costs and how we did the transfers.

Hint: It will cost more than you think.

chris englert walking traveler rtw

Know the rules of your tickets and how the pricing tiers work.

Even though we had talked to Delta and read many blogs about the “price” of tickets, we somehow missed that Delta has a tiered system for its RTW tickets around mileage which correlates to costs. Crossing the equator raises your mileage and your costs, especially if you cross it multiple times. Read up on the rules.

Hint: Read the fine print.

When you’re finally ready to call, ask for the correct RTW desk. There are two.

Since we were hacking our tickets, we were considered “non-rev” tickets. But the kicker was that we were also buying a ticket. Also, there’s no direct number to the RTW desk, so you have to dial Delta’s main number and be transferred. Be ready to wait a very long time and to talk to the agent for a very long time. Here’s how our first call to Delta’s RTW desk went.

Hint: Set aside a lot of time, like 5 hours, to make the first call.

Free doesn’t mean free, and bam, taxes!

After our first call with Delta, we were a bit sticker shocked because we hadn’t understood the rules before our first call. So we had to regroup. Here’s a break-down of the price of transfer fees and taxes. And then, here’s the break-down of what two “free” tickets and one paid ticket costs.

Hint: Budget in time to talk and think and talk and think.

Once you get past sticker shock, make a second call to Delta.

My family regrouped after we had our first call to Delta. Yes, we wanted to fly across the equator multiple times, but our budget only allowed for once. Finally, we settled on the purpose of the trip, and that was to see as many places as we could in 30 days. We didn’t really care which places we would see. Our goal was to get around the world in 30 days. So, we made our second call to Delta, hoping we’d actually book our tickets.

Hint: Be flexible.

chris englert walking traveler rtw

You will  have buyer’s remorse.

Once you finally get your tickets booked, you’ll have buyer’s remorse. It’s real, and you should expect it. After all, you’ve just planned a giant trip which will take a giant portion of your time and your money, and you’ll start wondering if you made the right decisions. Keep focusing on WHY you are doing the trip and don’t focus on what you’re missing by stopping in India rather than Australia, for example. Soon, you’ll need to start thinking about how to get your visas and such.

Hint: Keep your goals in mind.

You’ll generate one big To-Do List.

Booking your tickets is actually the easy part. Once you’ve got them booked, you’ll have a giant to-do list. Here’s what ours looked like. I recommend you build your list based on how far out it is until you leave. For example, at 6 months, be sure your passports are up to date. At 5 months, get your Visas. At 4 months, book your stays, etc. I’ll blog about packing, gadgets, converters, and luggage in my next post. There are a million blogs about how to pack and what to wear. You could read them all, or you could focus on the one theme that will make you decided exactly what to pack.

Hint: Chunk out your To-Do list and prepare for lots of items that aren’t on it, as well.

Then print your Boarding Passes.

After thinking about this trip for over a decade, planning it for over a year, and preparing for it for over six months, I was finally ready to call the airlines for my seats, ask for gluten-free meals, and print my boarding passes. There were a few glitches, but the smile on my face that appeared as the printer burned off my passes will be one I remember for a life time.

Hint: We all got TSA pre-check. I think we got it because of the type of trip.

How has your planning and preparing been for your round the world trip? I hope this post on how to call Delta’s RTW desk has helped you streamline and be a bit more efficient! Did it? Questions?


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Chris and Steve, the empty-nesting nomads, travel the world, one month at a time, housesitting and Airbnbing along the way. We uncover urban walks, great hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss. And we throw in a bit about Forex trading along the way.

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