While the program covers accommodations, most meals during in-person sessions, local transportation for most in-person locations, and more, the program does not cover airfare or airport transportation for the in-person sessions. To make your life a bit easier for program travel, please read the following recommendations carefully and then start your own research for flights and transportation options.
The Only Travel Recommendation: Stick with One Airline
You are traveling nine times over the course of two calendar years, and some of the destinations will be very far away from your home base. Sabrina Chong, your program director, strongly urges you to stick with one airline for the duration of the program for the following reasons:
- You accrue more miles towards elite status. If you always book the cheapest flights without regard to the airline, you lose the opportunity to accrue miles that might get you elite status for the airline. If you stick with one airline (or airline alliance) and reach elite status, that often means free checked luggage, priority check-in and boarding, and the possibility of upgrades. All of these perks make your voyage so much more pleasant and are worth the extra cost of NOT selecting the cheapest flights.
- You get through the airport a lot faster. By traveling with one airline, you end up learning the ins and outs of the terminal, including how and where to check in, and what to expect in the security area. The more you know, the easier it will be at the airport.
- Once elite status is earned, you may get free access to the airline lounges. This takes a lot of miles to do, but if you combine your program and personal travels, you could reach a high enough status that gets you into the airline lounges for free for international flights. This is a true blessing because they offer free food/snacks, plenty of outlets to charge your devices, comfortable seating, showers, and computer stations. This may not apply to all airlines, but read up on the privileges associated with your chosen airline’s elite statuses and work towards that goal!
- Redeem those accrued miles for free award travel. The more miles you accrue with just one airline, the easier it will be for you to redeem them for free travel. One Cohort 6 student mentioned how she wanted to visit her sister in Australia, but can’t right away since the flights are so expensive. She is now considering sticking with one airline for the rest of the program so that she can go to Australia for free.
Airport Transportation for All In-Person Session Locations
- Los Angeles: We recommend Uber or Lyft for your airport transportation. It’s about $35-45 one-way with one of these services, depending on the time of day and user demand. If you decide to take Uber/Lyft after you arrive at LAX, please note that you need to go upstairs to the departures level and go to the nearest Ride Service Pick-up sign (lettered A to F). You need to indicate which lettered sign you’re standing near and the car will pick you in that designated area.Taxis are plentiful at LAX, but some drivers will refuse to take credit cards as payment, and a tip is always expected at the end.
- Hong Kong: The easiest option is to take a taxi from HKG. However, this is also the costliest. Look into the Hong Kong Airport Express; while the Airport Express does not take you to CUHK (Chinese University of Hong Kong), it can get you a taxi stand closer to campus, which will make the overall cost to get to/from the airport less expensive. If you do take a taxi from HKG, make sure to take a red or green colored taxi; those are the only ones that will take you to CUHK. Make sure to tell the taxi stand representative that you are going to CUHK (or Chinese University in local lingo). You will receive paper cutout with the CUHK address and phone numbers in both English and Chinese so that any taxi driver will know where to take you.
- Doha: A taxi or private car is your best bet. Once you clear customs, gather your luggage, and go through the arrivals hall, exit the building and find a taxi. Depending on the time of day, you could spend somewhere between $30-60. Traffic in Doha is notoriously bad, so you also need to factor time into your travel considerations. It’s about a 25-50 minute ride depending on traffic.
- Helsinki: A taxi is your best option. Credit cards are widely accepted, but make sure to tell your driver before you get in. You may also take the Finnair bus that goes from Helsinki Vantaa airport to the central train station; from there you can take a quick taxi ride or walk about 10 minutes to the hotel. (You do not need to fly Finnair to take the bus, which is around 10 euros.)