How to get around the world on budget airlines - for £1,035

Exclusive: Wizz Air will now take you from the UK to Sri Lanka in two budget hops. What happens if you want to continue around the world?

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 14 March 2022 12:44 GMT
Wizz Air’s new Middle East and Asia flights are opening up the world to budget travellers
Wizz Air’s new Middle East and Asia flights are opening up the world to budget travellers (Getty Images)

As one of Europe’s largest budget airlines extends its reach to south Asia, completing a low-cost circumnavigation is about to get easier.

In June, Wizz Air is launching flights from Abu Dhabi to Sri Lanka. The move means that it will be possible to reach the island from the UK for under £150 one-way – an unprecedented deal, though requiring two stops along the way.

The new link also expands the options for a budget-airline-only circumnavigation. The Independent has devised a round-the-world itinerary for late May/early June taking in Hungary, the UAE, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, the US and Canada for just £1,035 – though travellers who are prepared to book through online travel agents can cut the cost below £1,000, saving £63 on the journey from Honolulu to Toronto.

Such is the variety of low-cost routes that adding stops or varying the routing – to include Singapore, Las Vegas or Florida, for example – is also relatively easy.

Round-the-world tickets involving “legacy” airlines such as British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qantas are rarely available for such low fares.

However, booking low-cost-only flights does come with strings attached: baggage is limited to one small cabin bag with (on the most stringent airlines) a limit of 7kg. In addition, by making separate bookings, travellers are not protected if one leg of the flight goes awry – though on the sections into and out of Canada, connections are guaranteed.

Almost all of these flights are on narrow-bodied Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft, apart from the longest leg: the 5,500-mile stretch on JetStar from Sydney to Honolulu, which is aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The only published use of the Boeing 737 Max is between Halifax and Glasgow on WestJet.

All fares were verified direct with the airlines on the morning of 14 March 2022.

The budget airline approach to circumnavigation (Datawrapper)

Your £1,000 round-the-world itinerary

31 May

Depart London Stansted 6am, arrive Budapest 9.20am, Ryanair: £20.

1 June

Depart Budapest 1.10pm, arrive Abu Dhabi 8.45pm, Wizz Air, for FT22,990: £50.

3 June

Depart Abu Dhabi 1.25pm, arrive Mattala (Sri Lanka) 8.05pm, Wizz Air, for AED349: £73.

Overland journey from Mattala to Colombo, the capital.

4 June

Depart Colombo 10.55pm, arrive Kuala Lumpur 5.10am, AirAsia, for US$152: £117.

Total cost from London to Kuala Lumpur: £260.

5 June

Depart Kuala Lumpur 10.25am, arrive Bali 1.30pm on Air Asia, for US$77: £59.

6 June

Depart Bali 12.45pm, arrive Melbourne 8.05pm on JetStar, for IDR1,974,000: £106.

Total cost from London to Melbourne: £425.

7 June

Depart Melbourne any time from 6am to 8.15pm, arrive Sydney any time from 7.25am to 9.40pm. There are13 flights to choose from, all on JetStar for AUD49: £27.

Flying from Avalon rather than Tullamarine airport costs AUD44 (£25), but there are only five departures to choose from.

9 June

Depart Sydney 4.30pm, arrive Honolulu 6am (two days later), AUD329: £184.

11 June

Depart Honolulu 10.25pm for Toronto, via Vancouver. Arrive Vancouver 7.12am next day on WestJet, for US$291: £223.

Available with online travel agent Kiwi for £160 with an extra stop in Edmonton.

12 June

Depart Vancouver 9am, arrive Toronto 4.34pm, on WestJet (booked as part of above journey).

14 June

Depart Toronto 5.15pm, via Halifax, arrive Glasgow 8.08am, on WestJet: £154.

15 June

Depart Glasgow 3.30pm, arrive London Stansted 4.50pm on easyJet: £22.

Total cost: £1,035

Behind the booking:

Lowest fares per mile:

Wizz Air, Budapest-Abu Dhabi, 2p

Ryanair, Stansted-Budapest, 2.21p

JetStar, Sydney-Honolulu, 3.35p

Best (most intuitive) website:

Worst website:

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