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27 replies
winter flights
TANTALIZING TOM
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generally, which is the best time $$$ wise to travel from los angeles to anywheres in europe (it will realisticly be lhr or cdg i think), end of december (are flights on xmas day still expensive?), january, february? i’m planning on a 4-5 month trip starting in spain and working my way easy. also does anyone know how much apx. money it would be to change the date when leaving europe? i’m assuming i’m cheaper paying extra money for a return flight that buying 2 one ways. thanks

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I found that flights leaving Dec. 26 were about $30 cheaper than flights leaving Dec. 25 – that’s from YVR. I still took the Dec. 25 flight because it worked for my dates.

As for what is cheaper, you have to look at the fare rules for your ticket and see what the cost for making a change is. A ticket for a period of four or five months will usually be considerably more expensive than one for a period of <30 days. You might be best off to get an open-ended ticket.

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thanks for the fast reply. what exactly is an open ended ticket? i’m a backpacing newbie

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It’s a ticket where the departure date is fixed, but the return date is not set. You’ll also have to worry about the length of your Schengen stays and probably other issues too.

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what online ticket places offer open ended? you’ve been really helpful btw.

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Tom, the first issue is staying longer than 90 days—unless you have an EU or Schengen member country passport, work, residence, or study permit. Do you have this? You will be denied boarding without proof because the airline doesn’t want to pick up the expense of flying you back when you are denied entry.

You can not change the fare rules on a ticket. If you get an agent willing to bend the rules, they might endorse the unused portion toward purchase of a new ticket, but that’s not likely.

For example, you can’t purchase the cheapest winter roundtrip for, say, $300, decide you want to travel in Summer when fares are $900 and just pay the $200 change fee. Nuh-uh, nicht don’t think so. You must pay the fare difference plus any change fees.

Student tickets are closest to the exception. If you qualify (FT student, .edu email addy, or under 25 generally), some (read SOME) can be changed for $25 to $75 as long as the ticket conditions (fare season, max stay, etc.) are within the ticket’s fare rules, and if seats are still available in that booking class. Studentuniverse, Travelcuts, and STAtravel.com if you qualify.

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quote:Tom, the first issue is staying longer than 90 days—unless you have an EU or Schengen member country passport, work, residence, or study permit. Do you have this? You will be denied boarding without proof because the airline doesn’t want to pick up the expense of flying you back when you are denied entry.

how can i get that permit you are talking about? if you are an american just planning to backpack in europe for over 90 days, what do you do?

"willing to bend the rules, they might endorse the unused portion toward purchase of a new ticket, but that’s not likely.

For example, you can’t purchase the cheapest winter roundtrip for, say, $300, decide you want to travel in Summer when fares are $900 and just pay the $200 change fee. Nuh-uh, nicht don’t think so. You must pay the fare difference plus any change fees.

i dont understand what you are saying but you seem like someone who knows the system. if my ticket says i leave los angeles on jan 10th, i will leave on january 10th. im talking about the ticket to return back to the usa. let’s say my ticket says im supposed to return on may 15th but i want to stay till may 30. how much extra apx. would that be?

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quote:if my ticket says i leave los angeles on jan 10th, i will leave on january 10th. im talking about the ticket to return back to the usa. let’s say my ticket says im supposed to return on may 15th but i want to stay till may 30. how much extra apx. would that be?
If your ticket only allows a 90 day maximum stay, for example, and you want to stay longer, then you will have to pay the ticket change fee (normally $200 unless you have a student ticket) plus any extra airfare for a longer-stay ticket. The cheapest tickets usually allow stays up to 30 days. Tickets allowing stays of 60 or 90 days or longer usually cost more. If you rebook your return outside of the orginal paramaters (read fare rules of your ticket) then you have to pay the additional airfare.

Most of the cheapest tickets are nonrefundable and nonchangeable meaning exactly that—you can’t change it. If you skip the return portion, you’re SOL—no refunds for unused portions. The exception to this is buying an unrestricted ticket. Economy unrestricted usually cost nearly as much as business class ($1600+ as a baseline figure).

If you qualify for a student ticket, my advice is to get the cheapest one you can to London with your absolute best guess for return date. The UK allow US citz to play tourist up to 6 months without a visa. You could avail yourself of the services of the plethora of low-fare airlines serving London to reach other destinations.

Also keep in mind that non-Schengen countries typically allow 30 days each. So… you could potentially do a trip up to a year without a visa by maxing out your tourist days in UK (120 days), Schengen (90 days), and eastern Europe (30 days each). I sometimes see good ticket prices to London allowing up to 3, 6, or 12 month stays—presumably with this type of itin in mind.

If this doesn’t work, you will have to apply to a Schengen member country to stay beyond 90 days. I’m not sure what the application will cost, but my renewal each year costs about $130. The process could take 3-4 months to get a reply… and that might not be a positive reply unless you can show good reason to stay beyond 90 days and means to support yourself during an extended stay. A formula using a daily amount for lodging, food, and incidentals is usally applied. And you might have to also show proof of insurance covering Europe during your stay.

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thanks for all the tips don! ok so if i fly in and out of london, i wouldn’t need to go through the hassle of trying to get one of those permits or whatever that you mentioned earlier? it sounds like flying in and out of london may be my loophole. i will qualify for a student ticket (long story).

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Have you heard of a website www.newtravelagent.c…? This site is really cool… they have cheap fares for airlines, hotels, cars for any destination you may want to travel to… The best part is they save you time that we generally waste researching the internet for good deals, they will do all the research and book the cheapest deals. They also offer a full fledge concierge service, so while traveling, we don’t need to research the net to get local information! I am really very satisfied with that site! the site is http://www.newtravel…

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Be prepared to answer thorough questioning about how you are going to support yourself for the length of your ticket, once you arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick immigration controls. I’ve never had this questioning (but have never had long tickets), but I have heard of people who were questioned.

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quote:thanks for all the tips don! ok so if i fly in and out of london, i wouldn’t need to go through the hassle of trying to get one of those permits or whatever that you mentioned earlier? it sounds like flying in and out of london may be my loophole. i will qualify for a student ticket (long story).

What Don is saying is that is that by spending time in England, use up your tourist days there. The way things work is that you get 90 days within a 180 day period to spend in the so called Schengen (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden). You also get 180 days (six months) tourist days to spend in the United Kingdom. So, you could spend a bunch of time in England for free and then make trips out into the Schengen countries, but still no more than 90 days in any 180 day period.

Going through London does not mean you get to ignore the 90 day rule. It just gives you a place you can visit to spend some of your time. Eastern Europe also works, but that’s typically 30 days for those countries. I just wanted to make sure you were clear since from your post it sounded like you thought it was a loophole around the 90 day rule.

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quote: Be prepared to answer thorough questioning about how you are going to support yourself for the length of your ticket, once you arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick immigration controls. I’ve never had this questioning (but have never had long tickets), but I have heard of people who were questioned.

And if you get asked this question, don’t answer you plan on working in England. You can’t legally work there unless if you have a work permit/visa.

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it does sound like a loophole well at least it did earlier =(. ok so suppose i fly into/out off london and spend 5 months in europe. i don’t plan to spend over 90 days in any given country so would i still need some kind of visa or whatever? i do not plan to spend much time in the uk. also, why would i have a problem flying back to the u.s. if my passport says how much time i spent in each country. if i’m leaving out of the yk, arent they just interested in that i didnt spend over 6 months in the uk? ok maybe this would help (i really appreciate everyones help here btw)
FAKE ITINERARY
total time in the uk 1 WEEK
spain 3 WEEKS
portugal 1 WEEK
france 2 WEEKS
sicily 1 WEEK
sardinia 1 WEEK
germany 1 WEEK
belgium 1 WEEK
czech republic 2 WEEKS
hungary 1 WEEK
poland 1 WEEK
romania 1 WEEK
greece 3 WEEKS
solvenia 1 WEEK
croatia 1 WEEK

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quote:
quote: Be prepared to answer thorough questioning about how you are going to support yourself for the length of your ticket, once you arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick immigration controls. I’ve never had this questioning (but have never had long tickets), but I have heard of people who were questioned.

And if you get asked this question, don’t answer you plan on working in England. You can’t legally work there unless if you have a work permit/visa.


couldnt i just be honest and say ive worked since i was 16 to go on this trip?

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Yes, of course be honest. But they’ll be more interested in concrete proof of your financial status (if this question is asked, which of course it might not be). I’m not sure how this is done – maybe a copy of your bankbook.

If you’re visiting the following places, you want the following to add up to less than 90 days:
spain 3 WEEKS
portugal 1 WEEK
france 2 WEEKS
sicily 1 WEEK
sardinia 1 WEEK
germany 1 WEEK
belgium 1 WEEK
greece 3 WEEKS

It looks like you have 13 weeks – so you’re pretty close. All the others are non-Schengen.

Warning – my inexpert opinion, but that’s my interpretation of Schengen.

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quote:
Yes, of course be honest. But they’ll be more interested in concrete proof of your financial status (if this question is asked, which of course it might not be). I’m not sure how this is done – maybe a copy of your bankbook.

If you’re visiting the following places, you want the following to add up to less than 90 days:
spain 3 WEEKS
portugal 1 WEEK
france 2 WEEKS
sicily 1 WEEK
sardinia 1 WEEK
germany 1 WEEK
belgium 1 WEEK
greece 3 WEEKS

It looks like you have 13 weeks – so you’re pretty close. All the others are non-Schengen.

Warning – my inexpert opinion, but that’s my interpretation of Schengen.


what i dont understand is if im flying out of london, how would i get into any trouble if my total time of those schenegen countries were i dont know 110 days? like after i arrive in ex) belguim, the train guy may say that i have been in the schengen countries for over 90 days? who would "bust me"? a train official? airport personal once i plan on leaving? i realize i am a complete idiot so i apologize for all the questions.

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You might get away with it, but you might not. I can’t really say how this all is enforced, and obviously some people never get in trouble, but you don’t want to end up being the test case. There are some computer systems that track this, but no doubt these don’t capture everything.

Here’s a quote from the Lonely Planet forum, for what it’s worth:
"The thing is that when one moves from a non-Schengen Zone country ( UK) to a Schengen Zone country (France) one must go through passport control. If your machine readable passport was scanned at any point of embarkation in Schengen-land, the clock was automatically set, and you are on the immigration database. If you try to re-enter Schengen-land without waiting, you most probably are going to be flaged by French immigration and refused entry."

Another site I read mentioned the development of a centralized European immigration database.

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Thanks go to traveler and ricecloud for clarifying my posts.

Having just passed land borders for Hungary and Romania 2 days ago, and passport controls in NO, DK, DE, and HU airports within the last 10 days, I can tell you that passports are machine-scanned. Overstay the limit and you can be fined, deported, or both.

To reinforce an earlier point: you can NOT legally work without a work visa. You can work under-the-table at pubs or hostels or farms but never reveal this is your intention if questioned. Purpose for your visit is plainly "tourist".

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quote: i don’t plan to spend over 90 days in any given country so would i still need some kind of visa or whatever?

Traveler indirectly answered this with the earlier post, but to be clear. A stay in a Schengen country counts against your time in another Schengen country. You don’t get 90 days in each Schengen country, you get 90 days in ALL Schengen countries. In other words, if you do 80 days in Spain, you only have 10 days to spend in France.

The effect this has is that you need to be creative to spend a 4-5 month trip in Europe.

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quote:To reinforce an earlier point: you can NOT legally work without a work visa. You can work under-the-table at pubs or hostels or farms but never reveal this is your intention if questioned. Purpose for your visit is plainly "tourist".
i never said i was interested in working in europe lol. what would happen if i just bring 2 us passports abroad and use the first when it’s been less than 90 days, and then use the other one when its been more?

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Only one passport is valid at a time. How on earth would you manage that? Surely you don’t mean you would lie about losing it and then use it anyway.

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quote: i never said i was interested in working in europe lol. what would happen if i just bring 2 us passports abroad and use the first when it’s been less than 90 days, and then use the other one when its been more?

Sorry, I think that was me just adding in the part about what not to tell the customs agent if they ask how you are going to pay for staying 4-5 months.

Two US passports is a VERY BAD idea. The "lost" one would be cancelled and as soon as they ring it through, the computer could tag you for using it. That would be a lot of explaining you would have to do, especially considering heightened security, do you really want to risk dealing with that?

Not only that, in filing a false passport claim, you will be in violation of federal law and subject to fine and/or imprisonment.

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You said

quote:4-5 month trip starting in spain and working my way easy.
What then does "working my way easy" mean?

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quote:
You said
quote:4-5 month trip starting in spain and working my way easy.
What then does "working my way easy" mean?

opps east!

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gosh this is frustrating. is there anyway where you can exceed 90 days legally without working abroad or being a student? what visa would you need? i emailed the american tourism board for going abroad about a visa and i got one of those automatic replies back saying that they would not be able to answer my email because they get too many. i found some webpage on exceeding a stay and it said something about going to the consulant (i guess i would find one here in los angeles)to the first country in the Schengen that you plan to visit and that they could grant me a visa. what i dont get is can i use that extended visa through countries in Schengen outside of the country that granted me the visa?

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quote:can i use that extended visa through countries in Schengen outside of the country that granted me the visa?
Yes.

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Music to my ears! sorry to have you on a full day escapade here. I hope I am able to get a visa through spain and that it’s long enough!