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How to buy tickets for adoption travel

Since adoption court dates often change at the last minute, many adoption agencies will advise you to purchase a non-restrictive, fully refundable ticket. While this is a good idea, it’s usually a very expensive one. For example, a current regular round trip fare from Chicago to Moscow on October 15 is $538 plus tax on Northwest/KLM. This is the lowest available fare (sale fare). Naturally, if you buy a ticket for $538, it will be non-refundable, non-exchangeable. However, when the airline tells you that the fare is non-refundable, it doesn’t tell you that if you end up not using your original itinerary, you can almost always apply this fare towards your next trip (you would have to pay a small penalty though). And, what happens, if you buy this cheap ticket, and then your return dates from Moscow (or any other city) change? This happens very often during adoption travel. Provided the seats are available in the same booking class as on your ticket, the airline will let you fly on your requested date. Official penalty for changing return date on the ticket (while in Russia/CIS) is usually $150, but airlines often waive this fee if you show them that you’re traveling for an adoption. Of course, there is always a chance that a plane might be totally sold out on a date you want to change your return flight to, but if that happens, your fully refundable and exchangeable ticket wouldn’t help you either. In our case, a fully refundable non-restricted fare from Chicago to Moscow and back is $3764 plus tax. Northwest/KLM offers adoption discount - 65% off this expensive fare. Still, even with the 65% off, the fare would come to $1317 plus tax, which is a lot higher than what a “cheap” NW/KLM ticket costs.

For those who want to save at least several hundred dollars per ticket, we suggest purchasing the cheapest possible economy fare with a possibility of changing the return date for a $150 penalty. Of course, if money is not an issue, then a peace of mind that comes with a non-restricted, expensive fare may be worth it.

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