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Learning to Fly: IP Flight FAQs

If you're studying abroad, odds are you're getting on a plane. We've compiled answers to your frequently asked flight questions so you can navigate the skies with ease. Scroll down for bonus tips on flying like a pro!

How will I get to my program?

Let's start with the obvious. When you signed your IP contract, you indicated whether you would like to be part of the group flight or exempt from the group flight. See below for more on what each of these choices entails. If you forgot which one you selected, here's how to find it:

  • Go to your WaveNet student center and click "International Programs." A box will pop up that shows the programs you have applied for.
  • Click "Contract" for your program. Then scroll through the pages until you find the "flight contract" section. In this area, you can see if you chose "group" or "exempt" for your flight status.

students sitting on a bench

I'm on the group flight. What does that mean exactly?

Being on the group flight means that the International Programs Office will purchase a roundtrip ticket to and from your program on your behalf.

Academic Year Students: IP will purchase a ticket that departs from LAX at the beginning of your program in September, and returns to LAX at the end of your program in April. You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements and/or accommodations during the winter break (all the abroad campuses close, just like the Malibu campus does). $1,220 will be charged to your student account for your flight as part of the IP fee (or $500 if you're going to DC). If you are a taking the group flight for two different programs each semester (for example, DC+ students) you will be charged for each flight as part of your IP fee.

Fall or Spring Only Students: IP will purchase a ticket that departs from LAX at the beginning of the semester and returns at the end of the semester. $1,220 will be charged to your student account for your flight as part of the IP fee (or $500 if you're going to DC).

Summer Students: If you're on the group flight from LAX to your program and back, IP pays for your flight! Pretty awesome right? Remember that if you're going to a Faculty-Led program (like Jordan or Fiji), you are required to be on the group flight for logistical and safety reasons unless you have received an exemption in writing from the International Programs Office.

For tips on navigating the group flight with ease, keep scrolling!

I decided to be exempt from the group flight. Anything I should know?

If you chose to be exempt from the group flight, that means you agreed to purchase and book your own flight to and from your program. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • For Academic Year, Fall Only and Spring Only students, you will not be charged for the group flight and your IP fee will be discounted by $1,220 (or $500 for DC). For Summer students, we pay for flights for students on the group flight, so by choosing to be exempt you are forfeiting this benefit and you will not receive a refund or credit.
  • When we book the group flights, we will send you the itinerary for your reference. We recommend waiting to book your flight until after your receive this itinerary, so that you can plan your arrival time accordingly (see below).
  • You must arrive at your program location before the rest of the group, on the same day, between 9am and 1pm or (9am and 5pm for DC). No exceptions! If you arrive in country early, you cannot stay in the house until the rest of the group arrives.
  • You are required (!!!) to provide us with a copy of your flight itinerary no later than 45 days prior to your departure. This is so we/the program staff in your location know when you will arrive at your program, and how to find you if you don't show up on time. Here are the flight itinerary deadlines:
        • Programs departing in May 2020: Friday, March 13, 2020
        • Programs departing in June 2020: Friday, April 10, 2020
        • Programs departing in July 2020: Friday, May 15, 2020
        • Programs departing in September 2020: Friday, July 17, 2020
        • Programs departing in January 2021: Friday, November 20, 2020
  • Once you book your flight, submit your itinerary using the IP Document Submission Form by the deadline above. No hard copies or emailed copies will be accepted.
  • You need to book your own flight, but also your own ground transportation to and from the airport to your program location. You can request to join the ground transportation with the rest of the group by contacting the in-country program staff (see your program's page for details on who to contact), but no guarantees.

Other Flight FAQs:

I'm on the group flight, but I want to travel after the program. What should I do?
In almost all situations, you can extend the return date on your group flight. Information on how to do this will be sent to you along with your flight itinerary, after your flight is booked. We recommend making these changes as early as possible in order to ensure you incur the minimum fees. Remember that you can make date changes to your return flight, but not changes to the route.

I'm on the group flight, but I don't want to take one leg of my flight. Now what?
If you do not take the outgoing leg of your flight, your whole ticket will be cancelled by the airline. This means that you are required to take your outgoing group flight. You can choose not to take the return leg of your group flight, but you will then be responsible for purchasing and booking your own return flight. You will also need to inform your program's staff, and email so that the airline knows that they can cancel your ticket. If you don't do this, you might be marked as a "no show," and you might encounter problems with that airline in the future as a result.

I need special accommodations for my group flight, or I want to upgrade.
You can contact our travel agent at to see if they can help, but there are no guarantees they will be able to assist. Since we book group tickets at a discount, we have to follow extra regulations and we can't accommodate all requests. Be sure to let them know your name, and which program/term you are going to.

What if I want to change my flight status?
We will send all students an email to confirm your flight status and give you the option to change your status if needed. Pay attention to this email! It will give you instructions on how to proceed and give you a deadline. If you miss this deadline, we will no longer be able to change your flight status. Be sure to always get confirmation in writing that your flight status has been officially changed.

When will I receive my itinerary and dates of travel?
We will communicate summer group flight itineraries to you by early March, and Academic Year, Fall, and Spring flights by mid June.

How do I get my boarding pass for the group flight?
You will receive your boarding pass when you arrive at the airport for your flight.

 man on airplane

Tips on Flying from the Pros

Arrive Early.
Avoid stress by giving yourself plenty of time at the airport. If you're on the group flight, we'll ask you to meet us at LAX four hours prior to your flight (or three hours prior for DC). If you are booking a connecting flight, be sure that your connecting flight arrives at least four hours prior to your next flight. That way if there's a delay or your other flight is cancelled, you'll probably still make your next flight.

Pack Light.
Repacking bags at the check in desk is the WORST. We will send you the baggage information for your flight, but if you have additional questions, email Be sure to specify which program you're attending for which term. The IP Office cannot advise on baggage requirements beyond the email we will send you, but we do provide packing tips on your program's page.

Keep Important Documents Handy.
You are required to create an emergency envelope prior to your departure that contains important documents like a copy of your passport, any necessary immigration documents, extra passport photos, etc. For details see pg.33 of the IP Student Handbook. You might need these documents when you are going through immigration, so keep them in your carry-on luggage.

***Bonus Tips from our IP Ambassadors***

"Bring a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage. Bring small toiletries (contacts, etc) in case your bag gets lost. Pre-download songs, a movie or a podcast before you go. Neck pillows are cheesy, but helpful on long flights!" - Gracie Orr, Lead Ambassador

"Sometimes it's cheaper to buy two round-trip tickets, instead of one round-trip ticket with a connecting flight!" - Mackenzie Winslow, Lausanne Ambassador

"If you know you want to go travel to a specific place, then book the flights early first with your group and everything else (hotels, activities, etc.) can and will fall in place later." - Emily Tran, Shanghai Ambassador

"Keep your valuables (medication, camera, etc) in your carry on baggage. It's nice to have some local currency ahead of time so that you can use it right when you get off the plane." - Ashley Stephens, Florence Ambassador