Yes! I just bought my ticket and I'm going to France! This gets me one step closer to my graduate school program which starts August 21st in Aix-En-Provence.
Finding inexpensive airfare can be a hassle! Before purchasing my ticket I weighed the pros and cons on a few different options:
1. I could combine my minuscule 9,000 points with with my mom's 35,000 on American Airlines and purchase a few thousand more to earn enough for an international flight;
2. Pay a visit to my new friend Grayce at Maupin Travel down the street from me;
3. See if Kayak.com could provide a good deal with a little flexibility on my part: leaving out of anywhere in NC, Atlanta, DC, or NYC and flying into Bordeaux or Paris (which would require a three hour train ride with lots of luggage for my extended stay);
4. Or call STA Travel to see what kind of student rate I could get with my newly acquired status.
I looked into all 4 with hopes of spending under $1,000. My costly dilemma is that I'm leaving during high season (summer travel isn't cheap), staying for more than three months, and returning right as the Christmas season gets started. Basically, if I'd waited any longer my chances would be slim to none for finding something in my price range.
I did some inside research on my own a few different times knocking out options 1 & 3 to see if prices had changed. Then I looked into option 2 - ask an expert! I met Grayce when I was feeling ambitious one day. I was walking home from the nearby shopping area of Cameron Village, and saw a sign for TRAVEL. "I think that sign has my name on it" I said to myself, and walked right in. Grayce has been working at Maupin for a lot of years and knows what she's doing. She told me that it would cost me nothing - ziltch - nada to find a flight that would accommodate my needs (no service fee). She looked into it, but the price was still tooooooo high!
Last resort: option 4. I called STA Travel a few days ago to inquire. STA arranges tickets for students under 26 yrs old as well as teachers. They hooked me up with a pretty good deal that takes me out of Dulles (DC, where I have family) to London Heathrow where I switch to London Gatwick via a 24/7 shuttle service, then straight into Bordeaux where my handsome boyfriend Phillip will be picking me up - Phil, would you mind picking me up at the airport on Aug 4th? My return flight is less complicated and leaves out of Nice, France which is a mere hop skip & a jump from the city of Aix.
STA Travel was awesome and hooked me up for $856, the lowest price I found, including taxes and fees. They also found all of my flights within the time frame I was looking for. If you're a student looking for international fares, or you want to come visit me!, STA Travel might be a perfect fit!