Phase 09 : Air Ticket Booking

This is a very important phase. 

Air ticket prices shoot up exponentially when the departure dates are closer to the booking dates. Its always advisable to book the ticket as soon as you decide on the University.

My Experience : 

I have followed this process and saved a lot of money on my airfare. People who booked flights to the same Universities after me ended up paying more (actually a LOT more).  

I had booked my flight tickets as soon as I got my I-20 document from the University. Below is a real example to convince you :  

  • My deal : 
    • Ticket Cost = 35,000 INR
    • Luggage = (3 x 23 Kg check in baggage) + (1 x 5 Kg carry baggage) = 73 Kg
    • Type = Student Package
    • Cancellation Policy = ~6,000 INR deduction

  • People who booked 1-month after me, their deal : 
    • Ticket Cost = 52,000 INR
    • Luggage = (2 x 23 Kg check in baggage) + (1 x 5 Kg carry baggage) = 50 Kg
    • Type = Normal Package
    • Cancellation Policy = ~6,000 INR deduction

Now, had I kept my 35,000 INR in Fixed Deposits or anything other investment option - I would'nt have been able to gain 17,000 INR interest over this. I actually saved 17,000 INR by booking early.

And if I had a VISA rejection - I would have lost around ~ 6,000 INR (inspite of booking early). Even the people who booked after me had the same cancellation deal.

Conclusions : 
  • Book early
  • And flight prices will only RISE - they rarely fall. (Don't listen to people who try to convince you otherwise)

Air Ticket Booking Process : 

  1. Wait for the results (admits + aid) from all applied Universities
    • Admit results : Always comes first (approximate dates)
    • Aid results : Financial aid decisions come along with the Admit results or within a month after that. It differs from one University to the other. You should proactively find out this date by contacting the University staff.
    • Reason to wait for all results from all applied Universities : Some may give you {Admit + Aid}, and some may give you only an {Admit}. At such a time you have to take the call where you want to study.
  2. Decide on the University
    • Once all the results have come, you can weigh your options and make a strong decision on the University where you want to study.
    • Request & get your I-20 document from that University. This is like a second confirmation of your admission! 
  3. Nearest airport to the University
    • Finding the nearest airport is an easy task with Google Maps
    • Its also advisable to see what kind of transport is available from the airport to the University, and how far it is from the airport. 
  4. University program start date
    • The start date or your expected date of reporting at the University will be availble with the program staff. Get this information.
    • Plan to reach 10 to 15 days before your start date. This will help you settle and get used to the place.
  5. Search for best route, travel-time & price - then BOOK the flight 
    • While searching on web browsers for air tickets, the travel websites generally collect information about you from the web browsers' cookies. They use this information and price the tickets accordingly, and you may end up paying more. Its always better to delete all the cookies (and all other browsing data) before booking.
    • An important thing to note while searching for flights - avoid routes which have multiple hops inside USA. The reason for this is because there are luggage restrictions for domestic planes inside USA. And if you have hops inside USA, you will mostly end up paying heavily for the luggage you will be carrying from your home country.
    • Most airlines also provide a student package - which allows you to carry more luggage at the same quoted price or with a very little extra cost. If you plan to carry more luggage, this may be an excellent option.
    • Also inquire about the cancellation / reschedule policy, this is because you are booking way early without a VISA. We all know that the VISA process is very random, and anything may happen. Its always safe to inquire about the cancellation / reschedule policy. 
    • Good Websites to book tickets (for Indian Students) :