Do Research First

(Note: Since this original post, Delta has made many changes to its RTW tickets. So although some of this info is dated, it’s still valuable regardless of which airline you will book for your RTW tickets.)

After reading many blogs, including, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to do good planning for your first call to the Delta RTW desk.

Be flexible, have a sense of humor, and have back-up plans.

Prior to my first call, I blocked out my trip on Delta’s super RTW tool. There are other RTW tools, but I found this one realistic to Delta’s routings. Unfortunately, after building out an itinerary, there’s no way to see what the price of the itinerary is. Additionally, you cannot confirm you’ve actually obeyed all the rules. None the less, Delta sends an email with your routing and a record locator number. Theoretically, if you call Delta within 24 hours, they’ll have your itinerary available from which to start your conversation.

2022 update: Although Delta’s tool is no longer viable, United has a better tool that provides more information.

Basically, the RTW rules on Delta are straight-forward.

At the time I booked (5/2013) these were the rules.

1. You can travel only in one direction (east or west).
2. You must to go around the globe and circle back to the country of origin.
3. There’s a minimum of 3 required stop overs and a maximum of 15 permitted (Exceptions apply).
4. One flight is required over the Atlantic (and only one).
5. One flight is required over the Pacific (and only one).
6. Maximum permitted mileage per fare level: – 26,000; 29,000; 33,000 and 38,000 miles. Mileage for surface sectors is included in the calculation of the maximum permitted mileage.

And some fine print.

After building my dream itinerary, I was ready to call Delta.

My first itinerary that I booked on Delta’s RTW tool looked like this:


The RTW Record Locator Expires

Knowing that my call would take many hours, I set aside a Sunday morning to call. Unbeknownst to me, I had no idea my ideal itinerary’s record locator would expire in 24 hours. So the first thing I learned on my call was to be sure to call the RTW desk within 24 hours of booking the ticket in the RTW tool.

No Direct RTW Number

The second thing I learned was that there is no direct RTW number. When calling Delta, you must speak to the RTW desk. So, if there’s a hold on the main Delta line, you’ll have to sit through that hold until you are transferred. This can take a long time.

Two RTW Desks

The third thing I learned is that there are two RTW desks, one for non-rev (reward) travel, and one for paying travel. On my first call, I ended up at the wrong desk. Next up, the first call.



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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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