Flying for Students
What you should know to help prepare for the flight Flying for Students
Flying for Students
Many students will have limited funds at their disposal, and will naturally want to get the best deal on flights, and also make savings in other areas wherever they can. Many organisations on the Internet offer flight discounts for students, so it's possible to travel by air at a reasonable cost. Compare prices between organisations; having flexibility about travel dates and times may mean that better discounts can be found. However, it's essential to check out the credentials of any organisation - check to see if they are a member of ASTA, and, where possible, pay by credit card for better protection should something go wrong. Also, check what's included in the ticket costs; e.g. some budget airlines charge extra for hold baggage and meals.
Know before you go
Investigate any necessary paperwork requirements, such as visas or medical certificates. Check up on recommended vaccinations and find out if other medication will be needed– e.g. anti-malarial tablets, or personal medication. It often takes time to process visa applications, and vaccinations and medication may need to be started some weeks before travel, so don't leave things until the last minute.
Be smart with your packing
Make sure all luggage is below the weight limit to avoid expensive surcharges for excess baggage. And don't forget to check the weight of hand luggage too! It's a good idea to pack some essentials in hand luggage; these could include toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, deodorant etc. as there's usually time to freshen up on arrival whilst waiting for baggage to arrive. Spare clothing may also be useful in case a suitcase goes missing during the flight.
Arriving at the airport
Allow plenty of time to get to the airport. If the flight is very early, consider booking into a nearby hotel; these are usually fairly cheap, and most can arrange transport to the airport. Passing through airport security can take some time, so be aware when check-in closes. For long-haul flights, this is usually a minimum of two hours before take-off, but this can vary, so check the details carefully. Have visas and documents ready for inspection, and make sure they have not expired. Again, be aware of restricted items and the 100ml maximum liquid allowance.
Waiting to depart
Items bought in airport departure lounges can be expensive, so it may pay to take along food or snacks to avoid unnecessary expense. Drinks, however, will need to be bought, because of the restrictions on taking liquids through security. There may be some waiting around, especially if flights are delayed, so plan ahead and bring some form of entertainment to pass the time, perhaps a book or iPod. Of course, duty-free shopping is always an option, although window-shopping may be best if the budget is tight!
Choose comfortable clothes when flying, especially if it's a long-haul flight. Ideally, wear casual shoes or open sandals, as feet can swell up during a flight. Wear layers of clothing if travelling from a cold location to a hot one, or vice versa – maybe carry some 'foldable' ones in hand luggage. A shawl or blanket may also be useful, especially on a night flight, and smaller accessories such as eye-masks and inflatable neck cushions can make all the difference to comfort on a long flight.
The in-flight entertainment may not suit everyone, so it's probably helpful to make 'personalised' arrangements. Take along a book or e-reader, and an iPod for listening to music. A tablet or hand-held games console may also help the flight to go more quickly. A laptop, tablet or mobile phone could be used to show a personal film choice, but it's important to make sure that any devices used on board have a flight-safe option, and remember that they can't usually be used during take-off or landing.
Ending the journey
On arrival, try to be patient and avoid getting stressed, even though it may have been a long flight. Again, have documents ready for inspection, and lastly, ensure that arrangements are in place for travelling on from the airport. With a few preparations, students should be able to get a good deal on flights, and find that flying is an exciting experience.