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Flights and Travel

Flights and Travel

To ensure that our programs operate in a safe and orderly manner, Rustic Pathways makes all arrangements for students’ international air travel from the time they leave North America until the time they return at the end of a successful adventure. There are only two exceptions to this: students who live outside North America may be asked to arrange their own international air travel, and students who apply very late in the season may be required to make their own airfare arrangements when group seats on escorted flights are no longer available.

Our programs span the globe, and the logistics involved in moving groups of young people safely and efficiently around the world require that we control their flight arrangements in all but exceptional cases. By booking group seats, we are able to provide a Flight Leader who accompanies our students on the international portion of their travel and increased flexibility in flight changes should students choose to alter or cancel their program late in the season. We do not allow parents to make air travel arrangements for their children as this causes very real logistical problems for us and can place the students unnecessarily at risk.

International Taxes and Surcharges

All of the prices shown in our catalog and on our website are estimates that include international taxes, airport taxes, and airline fuel surcharges. These costs can change quite frequently and we reserve the right to update these prices as necessary. In the event that airlines raise taxes for fuel, security, or any other reason, you will be responsible for covering these increased costs. Many countries also charge a departure tax or an immigration fee. If applicable, this will be shown as part of the international taxes on your invoice and will be paid by Rustic Pathways on behalf of the students.

Group Ticket Information

Rustic Pathways group tickets are nonrefundable tickets. Airline tickets that permit changes will have an associated fee incurred by the specific carrier. In most cases seat assignments are given at check in, if you have a specific seat or meal request please contact your personal travel advisor.

Escorted Group Flights

The price of escorted group flights includes the cost of employing Rustic Pathways Flight Leaders to accompany all students on their round trip flight as well as the cost of employing Rustic Pathways Airport Coordinators at our gateway airports to help students connect with their group and Flight Leaders before their international flights. Employing Airport Coordinators and Flight Leaders ensures that all students remain accounted for and are safely escorted out of and back into the United States before and after their program.

In a few scenarios, however, students are unescorted during air travel. Students connecting from one Rustic Pathways program to another conducted in a different country are unescorted as are most internal program flights. Flights to any Spring Break program are unescorted, and finally, students booked on the group flight from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica are also unescorted. Students traveling on these unescorted flights are always met by a staff member upon arriving at their destination location after clearing customs. When returning home, students are always checked-in for their flight at the point of origin by a Rustic Pathways staff member.

Safe Arrival E-mails

When students depart their homes and begin their journeys with Rustic Pathways, we understand how eager families are to receive notice of their child’s safe arrival. Within 24 hours of reaching their program destination, an e-mail will be sent to parents confirming their son or daughter’s safe arrival. If the student is connecting multiple trips, parents may not necessarily receive a safe arrival e-mail each time their child transfers between programs.

IMPORTANT: Unaccompanied Minor Policies

Many airlines classify children of a certain age who are traveling without their parents as “unaccompanied minors,” and they have strict policies regarding how these children must be supervised on the airplane and in the airport. Unaccompanied minor criteria (age and fee) is specific to each airline. If a child is classified as an unaccompanied minor by the airline, parents will be assessed a fee by the airline. Parents will be responsible for making all unaccompanied minor arrangements for their child’s round-trip flights and for paying any applicable airline fees. Rustic Pathways is not responsible for assessing these fees.

Rustic Pathways provides an Unaccompanied Minor Coordinator to meet and greet students at their gate when their flight arrives at the domestic gateway airport. Parents should make Rustic Pathways aware of their domestic flight details through their online portal so we can schedule the UM Coordinator who will be assigned to their child. We will provide parents with the name, address and phone number of this individual at least one week prior to travel so that they may include their contact information on the airline paperwork. If parents wish to complete the Unaccompanied Minor paperwork before we send the exact contact information, they may simply list “Rustic Pathways” as the pickup person until they can provide the airline with the exact details for their UM Coordinator. NOTE: Parents MUST update the airline with the exact contact information of their UM Coordinator prior to the domestic flight as the airline will only release their child to the exact person listed on the paperwork.

Below are links to the top domestic carriers that require a child to be registered as an unaccompanied minor if they are 14 years of age and younger. For other unaccompanied minor policies, please see the website of the domestic airline your child will be traveling with or contact the airline personnel.

United Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

American Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

Delta Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

Frontier Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

JetBlue Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

Alaska Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 12 and younger.

Southwest Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 11 and younger.

Virgin America
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 11 and younger.

Spirit Airlines
Required Unaccompanied Minor Ages 14 and younger.

If you find that your child meets your chosen airline’s criteria for unaccompanied minor status, please book the domestic flights, pay the UM fees and communicate this information to Rustic Pathways through your online portal.

Late Season Bookings

Rustic Pathways works hard to accommodate late-season applicants whenever possible. Quite often, our group seats on our flights are no longer available when bookings are made late in the season. In this case, Rustic Pathways offers parents the option of accepting higher airfares or making their own flight arrangements and paying a $150 travel coordination fee. Please apply for your summer program as early as possible to avoid higher airfare costs. It is imperative that late-season applicants complete all of the necessary paperwork prior to the start of their travels.

Beginning Travel Outside of North America

Students beginning their program from outside North America are responsible for booking their own airfare and confirming the travel information with Rustic Pathways. Please note that these flights will not be escorted by Rustic Pathways staff, but we will clearly identify the in-country staff who will be meeting your student upon arrival into your destination. It is important that you contact us for information relating to the preferred arrival and departure times for your program. If special pick-up and drop-off arrangements outside these time frames are required, a minimum fee of $135 will be assessed each way. Please call our office at +1 800.321.4353 or +1 440.975.9691 for more information.