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You should not purchase airline tickets until after you have been instructed to do so by your program and have confirmed your program dates.
Check the official start and end dates of your program (including on-site orientation, if applicable), as listed by your program provider and/or host university. Arriving late to your program site and/or leaving the program early is not allowed. If you have questions contact your Ed Abroad Program Manager, program provider, or host university. 
If you are nervous about traveling alone, it may be possible to find a traveling partner among the other program participants. You will be provided with names and emails of others on your program in advance of your program start date. You may also receive a list of program participants from your program provider. Many program providers and/or participants use apps like Facebook, Instagram, Group Me, and WhatsApp to connect before the program.

Once you book your flight, remember to provide Education Abroad with your flight itinerary and complete the Flight Itinerary item in your MyCUAbroad account. You may also need to provide your program with your flight itinerary. 

What to Consider

Compare flight prices and itineraries: Explore multiple sites (some examples below) and compare with the operating airline’s websites. 

  • Student Universe partners with major airlines to offer special deals on flights for students.
  • Kayak pulls a comprehensive list of flights and provides fare charts showing price trends.
  • Google Flights also has a good alert feature that you can set up to monitor prices.
Consider timing: It is a good idea to book in advance as flight prices tend to go up in the last two weeks before departure. Most airlines release new flight listings every Monday and Tuesday. You’re likely to find better deals on these two days as compared to the weekend when ticket prices tend to go up. It can be cheaper to fly midweek (Tuesday or Wednesday) than over a weekend.
Read the fine print: Will you be charged for checked or carry-on luggage? Are there additional taxes and booking fees to account for? Will you be charged for itinerary changes? Can you book a flexible return date? What is the cancellation policy? Etc.

Follow instructions: Don’t book airfare until you are accepted into your program and instructed to do so.

Additional Information

When you study abroad, financial aid for which you are eligible and have accepted will be applied to your CU Bursar’s account. However, there are costs that need to be covered before financial aid becomes available. Your airfare is one of these costs. Below are some ideas to help you mitigate this expense.
If you plan to use financial aid and still have aid left for the current term:

  • Use your financial aid refund for the educational expense of study abroad airfare.
If you plan to use financial aid and do not have aid left for the current term: 
  • Consider using miles. Join airline loyalty or frequent flier programs to accrue credit toward free flights and upgrades. 
    • If you have miles of your own, you may be able to book your travel using miles in lieu of a credit card. If you lack enough points to book your flight, airlines often allow you to purchase additional points to get to the number you need. These points might be sold at a higher rate, but your overall savings could be significant.
    • If you don’t have miles of your own, someone else may be able to transfer miles to you.  You will need to contact your airline regarding this. Sometimes a small fee is charged for such a transaction, but it could save you a lot of money overall.
  • In some cases, the Office of Financial Aid is able to issue an advance on your refund for the following term. Talk to the Office of Financial Aid for more info.
A note about payment methods: Most flight purchases are made using a credit/debit card. If you or a family member does not have access to a credit/debit card:
  • Consider purchasing a Visa Gift Card and using it to purchase your ticket.
  • Consider using a PayPal account to purchase your ticket.
  • Certain airlines allow purchases to be made via Western Union cash transfer.

Pro Tip: Most airlines allow customers to cancel without penalty within 24 hours of booking. Check if your price drops within 24 hours of booking. If so, you can cancel and rebook the lower fare.

Most international airlines will ask for your passport number when you make a reservation for an international flight. If you are a dual citizen, you should use the passport number associated with the passport you plan to use to enter the country. If you are in the process of renewing your passport or applying for a new passport, you may be able to book your airline ticket without your passport number and update it later on. For further information related to passports, review the Passports & Visas webpage.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict identification procedures for airline travelers. The name on a traveler’s ID (such as a passport) must match that on the travel documents. Travelers whose reservations do not contain full information will not be permitted to check in online or at airport kiosks but must instead stand in line to see a ticket agent. Additional airport security screening and/or denied boarding may result.
Be sure to stay up to date with the most current TSA and international security regulations, as international checkpoints may have different regulations.

If you recently changed your legal name, all identifying documentation should match your updated legal name. This includes, but is not limited to, your passport, program documents, all visa documents (if applicable), and flight tickets. If a visa is required for your program, you will need to have your identification updated prior to applying for your visa. 

For further information regarding the process to change your name on your passport, review the U.S. State Department Change or Correct a Passport webpage.

If you recently changed your gender and/or the gender marker on your passport does not match your gender identity, you can update your gender marker on your U.S. passport. This process does not require documentation of sex reassignment surgery nor is any specific medical treatment required. A transgendered person can obtain a passport reflecting their current gender by submitting certification from a physician confirming that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

For further information regarding the process of updating your passport gender marker, review the National Center for Transgender Equality Know Your Rights: Passports webpage. 

You will also need to make sure the gender markers on all your identifying documentation match. This includes, but is not limited to, your passport, program documents, all visa documents (if applicable), and flight tickets. If a visa is required for your program, you may need to have your gender updated prior to applying for your visa. 


Disclaimer: The following is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by the University of Colorado Boulder or Education Abroad. CU Boulder Education Abroad is not an agent for these organizations.