International Airfare (to and from Russia)

Published: June 14, 2020

SRAS is not in the business of selling plane tickets, with the exception of group educational tours and domestic flights not available for purchase outside of Russia.

An economy-class, round-trip ticket from New York to Moscow, as of June, 2020, averages between $500-1000, depending on the time of year, carrier, and other factors.

If you are using a site like Travelocity or Expedia, we advise that you look up ticket prices again directly from the airline. Very often the airline will offer a lower-priced economy ticket through their own site than what they list with the aggregators. Plus, exchanging, altering, or refunding tickets that are purchased directly through the airline is generally much easier than with a travel search engine.

 

Before you buy your ticket, there are several important issues you should be aware of:

Types of tickets

Round trip tickets are almost always cheapest and we generally recommend them. Other options include: a one-way ticket, an open-ended ticket, and a standard fixed ticket. Open-ended tickets as a rule are very expensive, though of course quite convenient. The one-way option varies, but is risky as you don’t know what kind of prices will be available for your return ticket. If you think you may need to change your return date, we recommend purchasing a fixed ticket but please weigh the possible costs of changing tickets first.

Travel insurance / Flexible dates

As Russia can be a bit unpredictable when it comes to visas (and other things), we recommend getting a ticket with travel insurance. Many airlines offer this with their tickets (usually $50 to $100) in case something happens with your travel plans (like the visa processes is delayed). Delays do not happen often, but it is better to be prepared.

Costs involved with changing tickets

Tickets often have a change fee of $150 or more. These costs should be weighed closely with the cost of an open-ended ticket and travel insurance. There may also be a price differential between the two tickets that you will need to pay. Depending on the airline, this difference may depend on “high” and “low” travel seasons as well as the duration of your trip.

Multiple legs

For those who will be switching planes in Moscow (say, to Irkutsk or Vladivostok), you should buy your domestic and international tickets together – preferably from the same airline. For those on domestic Russian flights, the limit is 20 kg of checked baggage and 10 kg of carry on. Most international flights will allow you more than double that amount. If your tickets are unrelated, you will likely be charged per kilogram over the limit.

The train has a theoretical limit of 35 kg, but it is more a question of whether it fits in the compartment. Remember that in 2nd class trains, there are three other people with considerable luggage. If your trip will be only a few hours, you may not have much problem, but Russia is a big country with train trips that sometimes take a week or more.

For programs of more than a year

Another issue to note is that tickets may only be purchased a maximum of eleven months in advance. This means that if you are staying abroad for more than eleven months, you will not be able to purchase a round-trip ticket directly. Sometimes sales agents will recommend that you purchase a round-trip ticket with a return date of eleven months in advance – and then change the return date to the date you actually need closer to that date. Make sure you understand any fees that may be involved in this.

If you plan on returning to the U.S. during the course of your program (e.g. for the holidays), we recommend you buy a separate round-trip ticket for that trip. So, you might buy two tickets: one for August-March and a second from December-January. Even if you need to change these tickets, it is usually the least expensive option. Make sure to inform your SRAS consultant about your plans as soon as possible as there may be issues connected with your visa to consider as well.

Be sure to inform SRAS about all your travel plans (including entry and exit dates) as soon as you know them. Declaring approximate entry and exit dates are necessary in applying for your visa. Also inform SRAS of any plans to travel abroad prior to going to Russia as this could affect visa processing. If you have any questions, please contact SRAS.

See also: Train Travel in Russia

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SRAS Wikis are maintained collectively by SRAS Challenge Grant Writers and Home and Abroad Scholars. They are meant to be continually updated repositories of information created for students and by students to best suit each SRAS location.

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