Preparing for Your Flight

It is your responsibility to check into whether your flight is included in your program fee or if you will have to book your flight independently. 

Booking your flight is one of the first steps to starting your international experience! Without transportation, how else would you get to another country? If you are interested in learning when the best time to purchase plane tickets is, visit Go Overseas's " How to Snag Awesome Flight Deals for Study Abroad" page. 

First time flying?

Learn how to be a better passenger by familiarizing yourself with in-flight etiquette. Traveling overseas entails long hours that can sometimes be with other students on your program or with complete strangers. Below are just a few of the many resources available to prepare you for in-flight travel. 

Buying A Plane Ticket

In many cases, program directors will work out the travel arrangments, if included in the program fee. It is the student's responsibility to arrive at the airport prior to the time of departure. Students will not be accompanied by a chaperone. If you would like to extend your flight arrangements in a group flight, please be sure to speak with your program director. 

It is the student's role to book and pay for a flight to their program site if it is not included in their program fee. Flights not included in the program fee give you the flexibility and control to book at your convenience. If you are booking a flight independently, you are responsible for ground transportation to the program site. When deciding flight arrangements, be sure to keep in mind the orientation time, if applicable. Some plane tickets add a "+1 day", which means that you will be arriving to your destination the next day. 

If you book your own flight, keep in mind that per IU policy, you cannot travel through a country with a Level 3 or 4 US Department of State Travel Advisory. When looking at routes, check the countries of any stops/layovers on the Department of State website to make sure the Travel Advisory Level is a 1 or 2.

Also, if booking your flight independently, it is important to note that you can purchase your ticket directly through airlines via their site, or through a third party provider. When purchasing tickets, plan to arrive during the daytime as a safety precaution. Keep in mind that not all airports are open 24hrs.  

Below is a list of airlines and 3rd party search engines; this is not an exhaustive list. Please note that these are just suggestions; the Study Abroad Office does not endorse or show favor towards any airline or site. This is simply a resource to use at your disposal. It is the student's responsibility to research airlines and their offerings prior to booking a flight. 

What to Expect at the Airport

Each airport has its own set up, but generally, you can find the same services. If you have any questions about your airport, be sure to check the airport's site, and also your airline's site. Some airports have a domestic terminal and an international terminal, others combine the two. Check your airplane ticket for your departure location to be sure that you are traveling to and from the correct location! Some layovers may involve trasnfering to another airport in the country. 

  • Check-In

    You can check-in at the check-in counter, a self check-in kiosk, or home via the internet (accessible 24 hours prior to departure time). The choice is up to you! Checking-in allows passengers to receive their boarding pass. Boarding passes provide passengers with time of boarding and departure, gate number ,and seat assignment. Many flights will call you by the row or zone on your ticket. 

    During the check-in, you can check in your bags if you are bringing more than just a carry-on, and if not previously arranged, choose your seat assignment. We recommend that students select their seat assignments when purchasing tickets or ahead of departure day to avoid being booted off your flight if the airline oversold tickets. When checking-in, be sure to have your passport and/or confirmation number so that staff can look you up in the system. 

    Be sure to check-in at least an hour before your flight departure time. Many airlines have a check-in deadline, that if not met, will bar you from catching your flight. 

    Note: Take into consideration the check-in line, security check, getting to your gate, or an additional tram or bus ride. It's a rule of thumb to arrive at the airport 3 hours early for international flights and 2 hours early for domestic flights. Visit your airline's website for more information. 

  • Security

    Getting through security can be a long and tiring process; just keep in mind that you're not alone! Be patient and follow the rules to ensure a speedy process. When going to the security check point, you will first have to show your passport and boarding pass to the staff member at the podium, so have it out and ready. The staff will then direct you to a a security line, where you will have to take off your shoes, metal objects, jackets and sort your carry-on items, like electronics, into bins. Any liquids over 3 oz will be thrown away (hair products and lotion included). Add your carry-on bags to the rollers with your sorted bins after removing said items.

    Sorting will be followed by a body scan or a metal detector. Additionally, you may be randomly selected for a pat-down. Prepare to have your personal space invaded! After the pat down, make sure to grab all your items from the roller and stack your bins. There may be a case where your things are held (this simply means that you did not sort or take out an item/s and the staff will go through your bag individually and notify you if there are any issues). Again, be patient! 

  • Immigration and Customs


    Arriving to an airport in another country also means going through an immigration process-the amount of time depends on how many international flights arrive at the same time. There are generally two or three lines for arrivals, one for host country nationals (people with a passport from that country), one for citizens of a certain region (e.g. European Union), and non-citizen visitors. Be sure to enter the correct line for a fast exit. 

    Do NOT use your electronics in the immigration and inspection area. If staff see any electronics, they are liable to be confiscated. 

    At the immigration counter, officials will review your travel documents (passport, visa, green card, etc.) and may also ask you questions such as, where you're staying or how long you plan to be in the country. Questions vary and depend on what the official deems necessary. Some countries also require a fingerprint or photo of non-citizen visitors. Lastly, the official will stamp your passport if you are granted permission to enter. We hope the stamp is one of many!


    During your flight, you may be issued a Customs Declaration Form depending on your destination, be sure to complete it while in flight. A sample of the U.S. Customs form can be found here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the flight attendants! The form may ask your exit and entry locations for the flight, your flight number, and goods that you are bringing into the country (e.g. food, amount of money, commercial merchandise). For customs, every airport and country is different.

    Customs can be done at the same time as immigration or separate in another area. Customs is responsible for the flow of goods, foods, personal iterms, and animals, in and out of a country. Each country's customs operate differently and abide by their own laws and regulations. It is recommended that you check into what your destination country allows in and out and how much. When you meet the custom officials, present your declaration form. Your luggage could be inspected, so make sure to include everything that may be relevant to the form to escape being fined. For many passengers, this process is short, similar to immigration- just be sure to follow all the rules and directions! 

    Example Airport Immigration and Customs sites:

  • Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements

    Some countries require entry and exit fees, as well as visas. Check to see if your country has requirements in the "Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements" section of your country's page. Simply enter the country's name on the Department of State's Country Information page to learn more. You can also learn about any entry, exit, or visa requirements via the embassy of the country you're visiting. Click here to find your country's embassy in the U.S.