Purchasing US-Bound Tickets in Nepal
An increasing number of Nepali relatives visit the US each year, and Zen Travels has made ticketing arrangements for many of them through our Thamel office. We realize that the safety and comfort of your relatives is as important to you as the price of the plane tickets, probably more. Although shopping for an inexpensive ticket is an always an important consideration, we also provide a few tips to help you avoid paying exorbitant fees later if you have to extend their trip or change travel dates.
Here are some questions you should ask your travel agency apart from the common routing and pricing questions.
Tips for selecting routes and airlines
- How long is the ticket valid?
Some tickets have a very short validity, which means that you cannot extend the ticket beyond two to four months. If the return dates are certain this might not be a concern at all. If you are not sure when your family members want to return, look for tickets that have either six- or twelve-month validity so that you have the option of extending the trip.
- What is the cost to change the return dates?
This should be factored in because the cost to change the dates range from zero to USD 400, plus any airline surcharges.
- Are the tickets refundable?
Some tickets are non-refundable after the outbound portion has been used, and those tickets that are refundable lose almost 70% of their value for a return refund.
- What is the cancellation charge?
This is always good to know in case something unexpected arises
- What are open return tickets?
Having an open return ticket does not confirm your return. Even though you have a ticket, airlines may be overbooked during peak times – especially Christmas, summer holidays, and Dashain, and that’s probably the time you want to travel.
- What is the baggage policy?
Many flights have started permitting a single checked-in luggage. If the price between a flight that permits two luggage is a few dollars more, and if luggage allowance is a primary concern, it might be better to pay a bit more, as some airlines charge as much as USD 200 for the second checked-in luggage.
- Take a highly reputable airline to minimize the chance of delays and cancellations along the way, which would further complicate the journey.
- Take flights with fewer transit points and no more than four hours of layover in transit if possible.
- Arrange the flight so that someone is there to meet your relatives at the port of entry, or be there yourself.
- If your relatives need a travel companion, fly through one of the more popular routes so that your relatives are able to find other Nepali passengers.
- Each airline has its own routes and schedules. Request the travel agency to explain the routes in both directions, as some airlines have very indirect, long layovers or complicated routes on the return.
- Make sure that you have the appropriate visas for transit – mainly if your travel occurs through London and Hong Kong.
At the port of entry (first stop in the US)
- Some airlines have meet-and-greet options which would provide an escort-like service along the journey.
- For elderly and disabled passengers, wheelchair service can be requested.
- Request any special meal needs in advance, such as vegetarian, Hindu, or low cholesterol.
Prior to flight
- Allow a minimum of three hours before a connecting flight in case there are any complications with immigration or customs. Even if your relatives do not have a problem themselves, other passengers may have issues that create delays for everyone else.
- Ensure that the passenger has all your contact information in the US and in Nepal – in case the airline or immigration staff need contact you.
- Have the travel agency reconfirm flights two to three days before departure just in case the flight schedules have changed.
- For passengers unable to speak English, download and complete a copy of Memo for Nepali Travelers Unable to Speak English from http://zentravels.com/downloads and attach it with the tickets and other traveling documents.