This guide was last updated in September 2023 in preparation for the Spring 2024 semester. Please check with your Student Onboarding Advisor or consult the information in the Student Portal to confirm your specific requirements.
If you are attending a Verto Abroad Experience and booking your flight, this guide is for you!
Getting ready to embark on your Verto experience abroad and looking for flights to your destination? First of all, welcome to the exciting world of travel! Secondly, we’re here to walk you through the process of booking a flight like a pro.
This is a relatively simple process, but you may want to put in some time and care into comparing flight options to find the best fit for you.
How to Search for Flights
Searching on Google Flights
A great way to see different flight options for a given date is to use Google Flights.
On Google Flights, you’ll be prompted to add details about the flight(s) you’re looking for and then be able to compare and contrast different options across different airlines. You can see how long the flight will take, how many layovers you will have, how much it costs, and whether or not luggage is included in the price. If you see a flight that looks ideal, you can click on it and it will show you different options for how to book it – either through the airline’s website directly, or on travel sites that sometimes provide better deals. Generally speaking, we recommend booking on the airline’s website directly– more details on that below.
Searching with Online Travel Agencies
Online Travel Agencies are very similar to Google Flights but the difference is that instead of just showing you flight options like Google Flights does, they usually provide a way for you to book the flight directly on that website. These agencies are sometimes able to provide deals that may be cheaper than booking directly with the airlines. These are sites such as Orbitz, Trivago, Kayak, Booking.com, Expedia, and others.
There are not too many differences between the sites, but it can be helpful to search around for the best deal, although Google Flights tends to be a good one-stop-shop for searching.
In addition to discounts, a benefit of booking on well-known platforms is that if problems arise on your trip, a customer service representative may be available to help you out. However, as we’ll discuss below, it could be better to book directly with the airline to avoid having to go through an intermediary.
Searching with an In-Person / Private Travel Agency
Sometimes people prefer to book with a travel agency, where a real person will be able to find flights and present the options to you.
What to Consider When Comparing Flights
What is the total cost of the flight plus luggage (if not included)? Some airlines will charge you to select your seat. If you want a guaranteed aisle or window seat, you may want to factor in that additional cost.
Will you have to take more than one flight to get to your destination? If yes, how long is the layover? (Advice regarding layovers below).
How long is the flight? If you have a layover, how long will your travel day be in total?
Will the flight arrive within Verto’s airport pickup timeframe for your location? If it arrives earlier, how long would you have to wait for?
Are there limitations about how many pieces or what types of luggage you can carry? What are the costs?
Airlines have different fare classes that describe the type of seat and inclusions of your ticket. For example, you might see: Basic, Economy, Economy Plus, Business, First Class, etc. These classes can affect the amount of legroom, the order in which you board the plane, whether luggage is included, whether food is included, whether your ticket is changeable or refundable, and more. Be sure to read up on what type of ticket you are buying.
Flight Change & Refund Policy:
Check if your ticket is changeable or cancelable if you want to have that flexibility.
Some airlines are known to be more reliable (for example, less cancellations and delays) or more comfortable (for example, more spacious seats, good entertainment options, or better food). While we believe all students can be flexible travelers, it can be reassuring to book with an airline that is known for good service if possible.
Tips for Booking Your Flight
Book via the Airline’s Website
Whether you find the flight on the airline’s website, or via google flights, it is generally ideal to book the flight directly on the airline’s website. You may be able to use “points” or “miles” this way. When you book directly with the airline, it can be easier to get better seats or change your seats and address flight delays, changes, or cancellations, etc. Otherwise, you might be referred back to your travel agency, which is an extra step that can cause challenges and delays.
Connecting Flights & Layovers
It’s likely you will have a connecting flight/layover. This means that you will need to get off the plane at one airport to get on a new plane and go to your final destination.
Sometimes long flights have multiple connections. If possible, we recommend limiting it to only one connection.
Layover length can vary from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the flight schedules. We recommend that your layover is at least 2 hours to ensure you have plenty of time to deboard your original plane, pass through security/immigration if needed, and get to your next flight.
Consider the Timing of Your Flight
When you’re picking out your flight, keep an eye on when you’ll land at your destination. This time will be shown in the time zone of the place you’re heading to. The landing time is super important—more so than what time you take off. Make sure to peek at your “Pre-Departure Arrival Guide“ to find out the arrival windows for your Verto location. If you arrive outside of your arrival window you may be responsible for getting to your accommodation on your own.
Look at the Type of Ticket
As a reminder, the main differences you’re likely to see include the ability to make flight adjustments after purchase, refundability, baggage allowance, seat selection, or boarding group. Make sure you’re aware of the limitations and benefits, and read the fine print of the ticket you are purchasing.
Check Baggage Inclusions
Most international flights/airlines include carry-on and checked baggage in the cost of the ticket, however others do not. There may also be limitations about the number of pieces and the size and weight you can bring. Carry-on and checked baggage can be quite costly, so make sure you understand whether or not this is included, and if not, how much each piece of baggage will cost.
Choose Your Seat
Although it’s not necessary at all, you may want to select your seat if you have certain preferences. For example, some people prefer to sit in an aisle so that they can easily get up and use the restroom, while others prefer a window seat so that they can see outside or sleep against the wall. Typically emergency row seats offer the most legroom, but keep in mind that passengers sitting there must be willing and able to assist in case of an emergency. Airlines charge different fees for seat selection.
Bonus Tip: If your flight includes a meal and you have dietary restrictions, you’ll want to convey that to your airline asap after booking. You can do so by logging in online or by calling the airline. As you get closer to your departure day, you will receive email updates about your flight including any additional information or actions you may need to take before check in and departure. Make sure you check your email regularly to stay on top of things!
Can I book a one-way flight or book round-trip tickets now?
You must book roundtrip tickets for your Verto semester, and here’s why: most countries want to see that you’re planning on heading back home before they let you in. This is their way of making sure you don’t overstay and run into any legal issues. Plus, having that return ticket might even save you some cash. A cool tip? If you book directly with the airlines, they usually give you some wiggle room to change your return flight date if your plans shift. So, grab that roundtrip ticket, stay on the right side of the rules, and give yourself some flexibility for your semester abroad!
When do I find out the official Verto arrival date and airport pickup window for my destination?
This information is available in your Student Portal under the Travel and Logistics checklist. For all locations, you will want to make sure your flight arrives on your location’s official arrival date during the designated arrival time window so that you will be eligible for Verto’s airport pickup service.
How can I connect with other students at the airport?
We suggest meeting students through your Student Portal and posting through the news feed option. Many students like to post their flight information there to connect with other students flying to the same location.
When do I have to purchase flights and when should I arrive?
Purchase your flights as soon as you know your location’s official arrival date and arrival time window, but no later than one month prior to your program start date. Check out the Location Arrival Windows document on the Enrolled Participants site, under “General Resources” to find out the arrival times for your location. This information is available on the Student Portal in your “Pre-Departure Resources”. Purchasing your flight at an earlier time interval may save you money, and could allow for better seat choice!
Participants traveling to Italy will need to have roundtrip flights booked in order to apply for their student visas. As such, you must purchase your flight as soon as the official arrival date is made public on the Student Portal.
Can I fly into a different airport in the city of my program? Can I drive or arrive by train?
The only location that offers train station pick up is Seville. You must arrive at the Santa Justa train station. You are able to add your train arrival information when you upload your flight information.
If you plan to fly to a non-designated airport pick-up location, or take a train to your final destination (besides Seville), you will be responsible for your transportation to the Verto Study Center. The onsite staff will coordinate with you closer to the program start date on next steps to access your housing accommodations for the semester.
Driving any motorized vehicles is not permitted on Verto’s programs, and is not covered by your Verto sponsored insurance. Driving laws are different for every country and require an international driving license.
Happy Flight Shopping!
While there’s a lot to think about at first, it will come naturally to you after you begin to review your first few flight options.
As always, our team is here to help if you have any questions. Feel free to reach out to your Student Onboarding Advisor any time!