Breaking the Rules? – Buying a Ticket Now

It’s not really breaking any rules. But EPIK is always stressing  “don’t buy your plane tickets before you get your visas!”

Realistically how long will this take? How much more will the plane tickets go up? How many others have done this – with success or utter failure?

How long will the visas take?

Well, for one, our recruiter hasn’t even sent out our NOAs yet so we’re really behind.

How long do the visas ordinarily take?

If we’re lucky enough to get next day delivery (which, where we live, we’re not usually lucky enough to)…

  • we’re looking at 1-2 days for our package to even get to the consulate.
  • From there our consulate (San Francisco) says “Normally, the Korean visa will be available after two p.m. on the second day after the applicant submits all the required documents.” but this is for walk ins. So lets say for mail it takes 2-5 days.
  • Then it takes 1-2 days to mail it back.
  • That’s 4-9 days.
  • Probably at least 7 full days either way when we factor in weekend delays and such.

Personally -we’re thinking at least 5 days (a working week) to two full working weeks (10 days).

If we pretend we’ll get our contracts this Thursday (23rd) , we don’t even anticipate getting our visas back until around the end of the month (31st) or even the first working day of Feb (the 3rd!!).

What will prices be like then?

Around the 31st we’ll have about 21 days until we’re supposed to arrive in Korea. But only 14 days until we want to be in Korea. Any later than that and we’ll be cutting it really close.

When it comes to most legacy carriers (which include American, Delta, United and US Airways),  airfare prices can rise dramatically inside the 14-day before departure window … This is to take advantage of the last minute  business traveler who often doesn’t know his/her travel schedule much in advance and is willing to pay higher prices. (source)

And this is for domestic – surely international is much worse.

Kayak thinks you should buy a ticket (at least for domestic) no more than six months before, with the low being about 21 days before your flight. Again, for domestic. International can’t be better.

Options for buying a ticket now – taking a chance

Rely on luck? Or maybe rely on luck but also look into refundable/changeable tickets.


  • buy a ticket in the next class up – this usually means you can do more if you need to change your ticket for any reason. Plus, more leg room and more baggage allowances. Don’t forget your flight allowance is about 1200USD give or take with exchange rates – there is a chance you could afford a business class ticket if you look around.
  • Buy the ticket and if you have to change it, pick a carrier that has a lower fee to change it. Appropriately called a  “change ticket fee”- although you would also  have to pay the difference if you change to a flight that costs more. You’re lucky as we did the research of how much the change ticket fees are (as of Jan 2014) – double check before you buy in case. In order from best to worst
    • Singapore – $20- but may have more hidden costs to change so expect $70. EDIT: Free with KrisFlyer miles (free to sign up).
    • Asiana – should be $100 had to look everywhere to get this though (cancel ticket for $150)
    • Korean Air – $100 fee  (cancel ticket for $150)
    • US Airways -should be $200 to Asia
    • Lufthansa – $250-$1000 (source)
    • United – $300 fee for international
    • Delta – $150-$450 it depends on fare rules
  • Travel insurance? may be able to help but read the fine print carefully if you’re buying travel insurance.

Everybody’s doing it (or has done it)

That time in Korea bought her plane ticket about a month before she was supposed to leave -and before EPIK handed out the contracts/NOAS. She ended up going just fine.

Two people currently on tumblr have bought their tickets and it doesn’t seem to be a huge problem.

Travelwme followed the suggestions and ended up booking her flight 2 days before she left. – sounds awful.

Ultimately it’s up to you. If you want to arrive a few days (or a week earlier) you’re taking a bigger chance but the tickets will also be more expensive because of the sooner departure date.  – We’re in this boat and after a few calls we may be buying our ticket soon.


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