Adoption fares are basically discounted rates on specific seats within the airlines. Along with the discounts are added benefits, but are adoption fares always the best deal for international adoption travelers?
Crunch the Numbers
Some airlines offer the adoption fare discount only to "unrestricted fares" which are more expensive than "restricted", but come with more benefits.
Some adoptive parents opt to find savings elsewhere on their tickets, but discover that they have to pay full price for the child's one-way ticket back home. Some one-way tickets for a child can cost as much as $2000.00.
This is when the adoption fare program may be a good deal because when parents choose the adoption fare, the child's ticket is 50-65% off depending on the airline and seating choice. These savings may help balance out the parent's expensive tickets.
Decide Between Flexibility in Travel Plans vs. the Cost
Adoption fares may not always be the cheapest international airfare, but they can be more flexible. Some airlines offer no fees or penalties for itinerary changes, full refunds, preferential seating to adoptive parents, and extra luggage allowances with their adoption fares program.
Other discounts and offers may save adoptive parents money, but if there is a need to make changes in the date and time of travel, penalties will apply and the discounts will slowly start to slip away.
Adoptive parents rarely get a month's notice before travel and cancellation can come at any time; an adoption fare may be a good choice.
Read the Fine PrintKnow that with any international airfare special, rules will apply. Be sure to understand the conditions that apply to cancellations and refunds and how these will affect your travel plans. For example, most adoptive parents fly business class, so some of these are day of the week specific. Other conditions may include no stop-overs. One of the big rules is that you must be sure to fly on an affiliate of your airline. So, if you book a Delta flight, you must be sure to fly a Delta coded flight. If not you will lose your adoption fare and its built in flexibility.
Have Adoption Information on Hand
When booking your flight the airline will need specific adoption information from you to qualify for the adoption fare.
- Name, address, and phone number of your adoption agency.
- Information from your Notice of Favorable Determination letter (INS I-171-H or I-797C)
- Proof of your U.S. residency.
You will also need to have your adoption paperwork ready to show proof of the adoption when traveling back with your child.
Ask Questions and Clarify, Clarify, Clarify
The last tip is to be prepared to ask questions when booking your flight. When I called Delta, I found them to be extremely helpful and friendly when explaining the rules and conditions to their adoption fares program.
Take notes and be very clear with your concerns and ask them to be just as clear with you.
Know all the rules and conditions that apply to your flight, whether you choose to go with an adoption fare or another discount. Other airlines may offer an adoption fare - just ask.