Taxes are additional (and so are change fees)
Airlines give you a great deal, but they don’t cover the fees that you have to pay. For my flight, I had to pay $1082 in taxes. For example, a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland includes:
- US September 11th Security Fee – $7.70
- US Passenger Facility Charge – $6.20
- US International Departure Tax – $24.70
- NZ Border Clearance Levy International Arrival – $18.21
- NZ Passenger Service Charge International Arrival – $18
Obviously these fees aren’t massive in themselves, but lots of fees at lots of destinations add up. Sometimes included depending on the airline is fuel surcharges.
You can reduce these by changing destinations and airlines. Some airports and countries charge less fees, but I wouldn’t materially change the destinations I’m flying to based on the fees at the airport. I would change airlines I fly and places I connect through if those fees are significant, say greater than $200 or so.
If you decide to change your flights like I did, you’ll find there are change fees, which are pretty reasonable. With Qantas the change fee is 5000 Qantas Points + a service charge of using the contact center of $80.
Planning the itinerary
When I constructed my original fare I used the Qantas booking engine to book the flights. The Qantas booking engine has a bunch of quirks, and doesn’t give you any filters to adjust which flights are shown to you. You can’t say “only show me flights on Oneworld airlines”, to exclude Jetstar and Emirates flights.
So to plan my itinerary, I first thought about where I wanted to go. I knew roughly they would be to remote destinations I’d never been to. Easter Island. Alaska. Maldives. Mauritius.
Next it was time to narrow those down. The best way is to walk through city pairs and see what flights are available. A good way to start is to use Google Flights, selecting the airline alliance option. That shows flights that connect those locations, so for example, Auckland to Sydney flying QF148, then Sydney to Hong Kong flying CX138, and finally Hong Kong to Male flying CX601.