Learning Abroad Center

Buying a Plane Ticket

Tips for buying a plane ticket

Before buying a ticket, make sure to check out details that your program gives you about booking a flight.  For some programs, such as Global Seminars and Freshman Seminars, the flight is included in the program price and booked for you. 

Timing

  • Flight prices are highly contingent on the season—consider going abroad during off-peak season.
  • Flights are usually cheaper during mid-week travel.
  • If possible, check alternative itineraries by altering the leave and return dates; Monday–Wednesday are usually the best departure days.
  • Although it is usually cheapest to book your international flight about 2-3 months prior to your departure, it’s always a good idea to start looking at airfares right away to familiarize yourself with the average cost of your future flight. 
  • Use Hopper to track on the best time to book your flight for the lowest price.

Online Search Engines

  • Consider using a search engine to find the cheapest date/time to fly and then go to the airline's own website to book the actual tickets. Many times airlines will match or beat other prices listed online and the service/security you receive with the purchase is better when purchasing directly from the airline.
  • Sign up for price drop notifications on some travel booking websites which alert you when a fare for your chosen destination drops below a specified threshold.

Travel Agents and Online Search Engines

  • Make sure to contact at least three agencies or websites to assure yourself of the best fare.
  • Travel agents are sometimes able to match an online fare, so make sure you are including both agents and online booking sites in your search.

General Tips

  • Several articles online offer rough guidelines on when prices are the lowest for certain destinations.
  • Consider booking a flight that has a flexible return date, or inquire with the airline about their fees for changing the return date, in case you want to keep your options open for traveling after your program concludes.
  • If you are studying abroad for an entire academic or calendar year, you may need to purchase two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket because many airlines do not allow you to purchase your return flight that far in advance.  Be sure to check with your program team for more information.

Recommended Travel Agencies

Village Travel Service Inc.

Online Travel Search Engines

Although somewhat less predictable than using a travel agent, booking online can save travelers a considerable amount of money. Online agencies offer less customer support than the personal service given by a travel agent, so read the fine print before booking.

Check out these sites:

kayak.com: A popular site that searches multiple airlines and other search engines consecutively. It’s a good place to start to compare, and you can even get price alerts to monitor fares.

icelandair.com: Consistently good prices for certain European destinations 

skyscanner.com: A convenient site that searches multiple airlines. It’s a good resource to use when comparing fares.