airline ticket to/from Europe

My granddaughter will be taking a semester overseas from her college. She knows the starting and ending dates of the program but may want to extend her stay. either in Paris or some other city on the continent. She needs to purchase a ticket before she can get her visa for Paris. Is there some type of ticket that will allow her to return whenever she needs to based on whether she stays past the end date of her program. Or, will it be cheaper to purchase a round trip ticket and change the return date and pay the additional cost.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

First, MY son was just accepted into a study abroad semester, so I've been involved with this. Contact the group that is running this, they will advise directly on the visa issue, and may have some general advice on the travel. In our case, it's Russia, and the VISA will specifically end with the final day of the program, he may not stay in Russia later than that. That does not preclude him from doing additional other travel on the way home (and in fact if we get him BA tix he will extend a forced overnight stay in London for his thru-flight here a couple extra days - ticketed, of course - since he can stay with a good high school friend in college in London.) But his visa is not an issue in getting his ticket, so I suggest you clarify that point with the program and airlines. She will be needing a visa as the program will be over 90 days, and Schengen limits you to 90 days in a 180 day period without a visa. But there should be no reason why she can't get a round-trip ticket before her visa is issued, that just should not be relevant to the purchase. If she wants to change her return later, there will be change fees involved, which could be huge (or impossible based on the class ticket bought now), and you have to spend more on the class of ticket in order to have the ability to change later. If she buys only a 1-way now, it will be very costly, as will ANY return one-way she buys later. She would do much better to figure out plans now and get the necessary multi-city or open-jaw tickets
Unless she is a trust-fund kid and the costs are immaterial.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

In the case of CIEE, the organization we are with, you are responsible for your own airline arrangements (they do however pay for the visa and have an account with Travisa, and will send them the necessary paperwork as soon as they get the invite back from the Russian school, and specific instructions for m the student to complete their end to Travisa).
But as you say, someone still has to provide the $$s. Surprisingly, the cost, even with travel, is a bit less than the same semester would cost where he is going to school, when all housing and living expenses are counted.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

An additional thought: If it's a student visa she is getting that allows her to exceed 90 days, I suspect (since I know nothing of the Schengen rules on this and have no need to look it up) I suspect that it ends with the ending date of the program, and she must then leave the Schengen area, and cannot reenter until the next 180 day period.
Note that UK is not Schengen, she could go there, she could have round-trip ticket purchased for London, and then arrange different transportation between London and her program.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

This is a very common problem if you want to call it that. Should be handled and addressed to the Study Abroad Office at her university. Nearly all students do the extend bit. The program will have an arrangement with a airline/travel agency which will permit the purchase of a round trip ticket with an open return. There will be some conditions on the round trip -maybe a form of stand-by, a deadline for scheduling the return, etc. Same for her visa. She needs to work through/with the Study Abroad Office. The above comments about visas is not very accurate. All grandmother needs to do is provide some cash.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Not knowing all of the details of her program, it's hard to make perfect recommendations, but my experience in this area would lead me to suggest that you do not purchase airline tickets until she has been accepted into a program and has been approved for a study permit/student visa. And she must be accepted into a program before she can apply for a study permit/student visa. Once accepted, the university will supply you with all of the necessary paperwork, which will indicate the university, address, type of program, length of program, etc. Immigration will require that information and a lot more with the application. It's unlikely she would be denied a study permit, but if she is, you would be stuck with an airline ticket if you bought it in advance of even applying for a study permit/visa. Sometimes, a country may not require a student visa at all...this may be especially true for short programs of 6 weeks or so. Depends on the country. BTW, neither the home university nor the university being visited abroad has ever been involved in making travel arrangements...not in my experience anyway. You're normally on your own for that part.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10883 posts

My comments pertained to study abroad programs run by colleges and universities. CIEE is a private corporation that operates outside of the university setting. CIEE has been at it a long time. But it is a different structure than the university programs.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

Which means that who they need to contact depends on who the program is with, the school may or may not be involved. We do not know who Judy's granddaughter's program is through.

Posted by Nicholas
Seattle, Washington, United States
282 posts

You can purchase a ticket that does not carry any change fees, but these flexible tickets are usually much, much more expensive than the cheapest available economy fares. In your situation, I would buy a ticket with the extra time already built in with a flight from a major hub, and then look for a one-way ticket to that hub once she decides where she wants to go or where she'll end up being. One way Intra-European flights are usually less expensive than the change fee associated with your ticket and far less expensive than buying a flexible ticket. Also, has she actually thought about the logistics on this? My bet is that once she sees her bag and then considers what it is going to be like dragging a huge semester sized bag across Europe, she'll want to leave most of her stuff and travel with a backpack. If she does this, she'll leave it with a friend she makes while there and then need to return to Paris to pick it up. In that case, you're better off just getting a round trip to Paris and then planning the European trip separately will end up being better.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Are you saying she needs to have a return ticket in hand before she can apply for the student visa? Just trying to clarify the situation.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

And I am not knowing her program, and so am basing this on what is happening with my son's program. The organization is taking care of all the visa paperwork except the application and stuff he has to fill out. The visa itself is straight-forward, I can't imagine why it would be turned down. About the only thing I can think of is a failed HIV test, which is required for a student visa in Russia. You can look up the Schengen student-visa requirements. To my knowledge she does not need the visa to purchase a roundtrip ticket. After all, even if the dates are over 90 days apart, that does not mean that the Schengen rules re 90 dyas in 180 were exceeded - what if someone purchased an Air France roundtrip to Paris, where after 80 days then flew EasyJet to Switzerland for a month, then returned by train to Paris for week and then flew home? Your granddaughter really ought to be the one doing the detail work. I can understand helping with the airline arrangements, but the rest of this is her deal. Especially as to figuring out how she can mange to extend her trip without sticking someone for way too much in airfare.
And ditto Nicholas' comment about the logistics of this. She really needs to sit down and figure this out by the realities, rather than "I'm in Europe, I have to go travel."

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8755 posts

Larry, you make some good points. Just to clarify for those not well versed in the Schengen rules - a trip from France to Switzerland would do nothing for the 90 day limit as Switzerland is now part of the Schengen area. In order to stop the 90 day counter a person has to completely leave the Schengen area.

Posted by Judy
Coram
4 posts

Thank you all for your advise. I found out that you can get an extension for the visa which my granddaughter will need to stay for the semester. Also, each embassy/consulate sets what is needs for the visas it processes. The cosulate in Maiami, where my granddaughter will have to go, only needs a one way ticket so that gives her and her family a little more flexibility. Some consulates insist on a round-trip ticket. Her college does not give any help getting visas other than arranging a meeting to answer questions the students might have.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

First, Nigel, right you are, I pulled the wrong country for the example, should have Easy-Jetted to London! Must have been thinking in Euros. Judy: As for the air travel issue, what the consulate says for the Visa has nothing to do with how the airlines sell tickets.
A one-way ticket from the US to Europe with the major airlines will cost way more than a round-trip ticket. Do some quick checking on Kayak or such, and also on the airline's direct website so you can see what is allowed at each ticket-type price-point. And what you are proposing is to buy TWO one-way long-haul tickets. And buying a ticket that will allow changes cheaply will cost way more than a basic ticket. I am not sure where you want to go, is "Maiami" a typo? The only Maiami I can find is in Ukraine, which is not Schengen, and does not require a Visa for stays of 90 days in a 180 day period, but a student will need one. Info is online. Get the actual visa information you need via Google: countryname visa

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1590 posts

In the past, Iceland Air has had very good prices no one way flights. Their US gateways on the east coast are NY and Wash DC. They fly to Paris. may be that would work for your granddaughter.