Texas Tech University

Purchasing a Plane Ticket

Tips for purchasing plane tickets abroad

Before purchasing a ticket for your program abroad, you must have permission from your program manager or program provider. Check all details about your program before booking your flight.


  • Flight prices are highly contingent on the season.
  • Flights are usually cheaper during mid-week travel.
  • If possible, check alternative itineraries by altering the leave and return dates; Monday–       Wednesday are usually the best departure days. If you have to arrive on or by a certain date specified by your program, you must follow those guidelines.
  • It's usually cheapest to book your international flight about 2-3 months prior to your departure,       but it's always a good idea to start looking at airfares right away to familiarize yourself with what the costs are averaging for your flight.

Online Search Engines

  • Consider using a search engine to find the cheapest date/time to fly and then go to the airline's own website to book the actual tickets.
  • Many times airlines will match or beat other prices listed online and the service/security you receive with the purchase is better when purchasing directly from the airline.
  • Sign up for price drop notifications on some travel booking websites which alert you when a fare for your chosen destination drops below a specified threshold.
  • STA Travel's Book Now, Pay Later program allows you to pay a small deposit for your airfare upfront and the remaining balance closer to the time of departure.

Search engines include but are not limited to: 

Travel Agents

  • Make sure to contact at least three agencies or websites to assure yourself of the best fare.
  • Travel agents are sometimes able to match an online fare, so make sure you are including both agents and online booking sites in your search.

 General Tips

  • Several articles online offer rough guidelines on when prices are the lowest for certain destinations.
  • Consider booking a flight that has a flexible return date, or inquire with the airline about their fees for changing the return date, in case you want to keep your options open for traveling after your program concludes.
  • If you are studying abroad for an entire academic or calendar year, you may need to purchase two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket because many airlines do not allow you to purchase your return flight that far in advance.
  • Although somewhat less predictable than using a travel agent, booking online may save travelers a considerable amount of money. Online agencies may offer less customer support than the personal service given by a travel agent, so remember to read the fine print.

Informational Video- How to Purchase an International Flight