Youth air tickets

Image credit: Image by Arcturus, February 2008

There are many advantages of being young: most youths feel good and have a lot of energy.  Here’s another one: you could also travel for less.

Youth or student tickets can be cheaper than the going rate, but this is not always the case.  While they are not always the cheapest rate of the day, they will in all likelihood have more flexibility.

Here is a list of a few general rules for youth air travel.

  • Age.  18 – 35 is a good measure, although it varies between different airlines depending on their rules.  Some of the upper limits are 29, 33 and 35 years
  • Validity.  Most youth tickets are valid for a year and some for 18 months or even 2 years.  The idea is that the journey must be completed within a year of the date of issue.  There is an important exception: If you have already travelled on the outward leg of the ticket you can change the return date so that it is up to a year after the date of departure (no longer the date of issue).  This will have the effect of extending the validity of the ticket, but still subject to the maximum validity determined by that particular carrier.
  • Changes.  In almost all cases, the airline permits one free change to be made.
  • Re-route.  A re-route does not constitute a change, so although a change is permitted, re-routes are usually not permitted on youth fares.
  • Date ahead, out of the reservations system.  Airline reservations systems usually have inventory for 11 months ahead.  If your return date is out of the system range, they will usually permit a free change when it becomes available.  This is not guaranteed and is still subject to availability of the fare level booked.  This applies also to non-youth fares where the validity of the ticket is a year or more.
  • Standby.  This in most cases is not permitted unless you are on a full economy class fare.  Should you get the check-in or ticket desk staff on a good day, they may waive this and allow you to go on standby.

Requirements.  While some airlines require proof of your student ID card, many youth fares are purely age based.  There is no harm in asking the travel agent what the youth fare is on the route and the restrictions.  It may be pricier than the lowest published fare, but then the published fare may have less flexible rules.

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