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Flight and Travel Arrangements

If you are looking for assistance booking travel, StudentUniverse is the preferred travel agency for student travel at Michigan State University. They provide discounted flights, hotels, and tours, and offer 24/7 emergency support, working closely with MSU’s Office for Global Health, Safety and Security.

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Flight Arrangements

Most education abroad programs do not include the cost of airfare in the program fee. However, some programs may offer a group flight and will include the cost of your flight as part of your program fee. To determine which applies to your chosen program, check the program’s budget or contact the Education Abroad Coordinator to verify.

When making flight arrangements on your own, it is highly recommended you research the cost with any travel agency or airline. Here are some things to consider.

When should I purchase tickets?

You should only purchase flights once you have been officially accepted into your program and confirmed your participation. Keep in mind that prices may increase significantly if you wait to buy your tickets too close to departure. You also do not want to purchase your tickets too early because travel agencies and/or airlines have differing refund policies and you may not get any money back if you cancel.

When am I expected to arrive in my host country?

You are expected to be at the education abroad location the day the program begins and to remain for the duration of the program.

Can I arrive early?

You can arrive early, however, you will need to make your own housing arrangements. Remember, you are also responsible for being onsite for the first official day of the program. 

Can my family/friends travel with me?

Family or friends are able to fly with you at their own expense. MSU will not provide support or assume responsibility for non-participants. Any accompanying non-participants are not part of the education abroad program and therefore prohibited from attending classes, field trips, or any other activities formally associated with the program.

Travel Permissions for Minors

If you are a minor under the age of 18 at the time of your program's departure, airlines and/or immigration officials might require a letter from a parent and/or guardian giving you permission to travel abroad. Check with the airline issuing your ticket and with the embassy or consulate of your country or countries of destination.

MSU strongly recommends that any student under the age of 18 at the time of travel carry a Travel Permission for Minors (PDF) form.

Airport Security

Airport security in the U.S. is managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). They work closely with the intelligence and law enforcement communities to share information to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. You should prepare for various security screening and special procedures when you arrive for your flight.

Before arriving at the airport, learn what you can pack in your carry-on and checked baggage by reviewing the What Can I Bring? on the TSA website.

In addition to the screening of your carry-on luggage, you should also be prepared to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets and place them on an x-ray belt for screening. You will also be asked to enter a walk-through metal detector. Pat-down procedures may also be required if the screening technology alarms. Visit TSA Security Screening to learn more.

Flight Interruptions and Delays

Some programs travel as a group, whereas other programs require students to meet at a certain location abroad - in the airport, in the residence, or in the classroom. Either way, prior to a U.S. departure it is important to monitor your email for schedule changes. Such messages will likely come from the program leader for students on group flights or from the airline directly for individually booked flights.

If the group incurs delays upon return to the U.S., the program leader will provide students with schedule updates. Students are then expected to share these updates with concerned friends or family members.

For students traveling independently, monitoring flight status and informing the Office for Education Abroad of any delays is their responsibility. Education Abroad staff will do their best to inform host country representatives of any student delays.

Please keep in mind that MSU has no authority over airlines with regard to delays or cancelled flights. Students are encouraged to remain calm and follow the instructions provided by airline personnel and to prepare themselves for the stress involved with the uncertainty of travel delays/disruptions.

Prepare for Unexpected Costs

If students traveling on a group flight arranged by the Office of Education Abroad and accompanied by MSU program leader(s) incur a flight delay or cancellation that requires overnight accommodations, accompanying MSU program leader(s) will secure accommodations for the group.

However, the majority of MSU-sponsored programs do not travel on group flights (arranged by the Office for Education Abroad); thus, the costs related to airline delays or cancellations are the responsibility of the student. Specifically, costs related to such airline delays or cancellations that occur prior to an MSU-sponsored program's official start date or after the program has concluded are the responsibility of the student (unless the entire program is traveling as a group). Once the program begins abroad, costs will be covered by the Office for Education Abroad until the conclusion of the program.

In the unlikely circumstance that MSU cancels a program due to extreme weather conditions or a natural disaster, the standard suspension policies apply.

Travel Insurance

The Office for Education Abroad recommends that students purchase travel insurance (different from health insurance). There are various different plans so pay attention to exactly what each plan covers. Look for coverage that includes trip cancellation (check to see if “acts of God” are covered) and lost/delayed luggage. Visit the Office for Global Health, Safety and Security’s Trip Cancellation Insurance webpage for more information on why it might be a good thing to consider this protection.

NOTE: Flight and/or travel insurance is NOT included as part of the program fee. It is up to your discretion to purchase travel insurance.