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.
- Flight prices are highly contingent on the season—consider going 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 what the costs are averaging for your flight.
Online Search Engines
- Consider using a search engine to find the cheapest date/time to fly and then go to the airlines 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.
- 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.
Recommended Travel Agencies
Village Travel Service Inc.
STA Travel's Book Now, Pay Later program allows you to pay a small deposit for your airfare upfront and the remaining balance closer to the time of departure.
Online Travel Search Engines
Although somewhat less predictable than using a travel agent, booking online may save travelers a considerable amount of money. Online agencies may offer less customer support than the personal service given by a travel agent, so remember to read the fine print.
Check out these sites:
kayak.com: A great 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