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Book Your Flight

Plan Ahead

Start your flight planning early to reserve your seat and avoid high costs. With these tips and tricks, your international travel can be a little easier.

Be aware that you are responsible for booking your own travel. Program fees generally don't cover flights and other transportation to your destination.

Person on a plane looks into their backpack.

Buy a Ticket

Broad searches using flight comparison sites like Google Flights can be a good starting point for understanding your options. Use multiple search filters to understand the broad scope of options. You should also check individual airline sites to ensure you have a full picture of what's available.

You may find you have to take multiple flights to get to your destination, fly out of a different airport than you expected, or travel on a different day or time to get the best price. In many cases, you may need to leave home the day before you plan to arrive to account for long flights and time zone differences.

Be cautious when planning an itinerary with very tight or long layovers, lots of connections, or several airlines. These factors complicate your trip and may reduce your chances of arriving on schedule.

Check Visa and Passport Requirements

Your passport needs to be up to date, and you will need to meet all necessary visa requirements for your destination and any other countries you'll pass through.

For example, you may need to show proof of a round-trip ticket as part of your visa requirements.

When should I book my flight?

Book your international flight as early as you can! This will help you save money and ensure that you get the flight you want. We recommend you book your flight at six to eight weeks in advance.

What if I'm waiting on a travel grant?

Do not wait for an expected travel grant to arrive to book your flight. Delaying booking a ticket may cause you to lose flight options and greatly increase the cost of tickets.

Note that many grants require that your flight adheres to the Fly America Act, which may limit your airline options. Make sure you’ve reviewed all your resources to make decisions about how the awards will best be used to cover the costs of your program.

How much should my flight cost?

There is an estimated budget for every program that can help you plan accordingly for a round-trip flight. Flight prices vary depending on season and location, but booking earlier can help you avoid last-minute price hikes.

Keep in mind that sometimes the cheapest options have hidden fees for features like luggage, carry-on bags, and seat selection that will increase your overall costs.

At the Airport

Twenty-four hours before your flight, you can check in. This is a process that confirms your travel with the airline, provides you with your boarding pass, and determines final details such as your seat choice and luggage needs. You can check in online or on your phone to receive a mobile boarding pass or in-person at the airport's check-in counter for a printed pass.

You should plan to arrive at the airport early so that you have plenty of time to check in if needed, go through security, and arrive at your gate. Most airlines recommend arriving three hours ahead for international flights.

What if I miss a flight?

Speak with airline staff at the gate if you have missed your flight. They can help assist you in finding another flight. You may also be able to rebook using your airline's mobile app.

Who else can I call for help?

International SOS is available to you 24/7 while you're abroad. Cornell’s membership number is 11BSCA827281.

Next Up: Get Your Visa