We understand that a great travel experience means getting to and from your destination as smoothly as possible. For many of our travelers, this may be their first time flying without their parents. And parents might be concerned about having their child traveling for the first time without them.
What might be new to your family is routine for ours. We use our many systems and procedures, developed from 36 years of experience arranging flights, to make the journey as easy and relaxing as possible—for everyone!
Here are some things you can expect from us when getting from Point A to Point B. We cover a lot of key details, however if you still have questions or concerns, we’re always happy to chat via phone or email.
Time Parameters for Arrival To & Departure
In order to minimize waiting times in airports upon arrival, and upon returning home, we use specific flight time parameters for each program. These times outline when participants should arrive and for when to book your flight home. We provide airport transfers around these designated times and the system helps programs start and conclude smoothly.
Chaperoned Group Flights
When there are 10 or more students traveling from the same city, we typically arrange a group flight. In the New York tri-state area, a Westcoast Connection representative will see these flights off at the airport to facilitate check-in and make social introductions.
All Active Teen Tours that head out west offer chaperoned group flights to begin the trip from the New York area.
Additionally, the following international destinations have chaperoned flights from the U.S. with gateway cities indicated as of October 2017 and are subject to change:
|Australia & Hawaii – 27 days||chaperoned from Los Angeles (and from NY to LA)|
|Backpack France, Switzerland & Italy – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech Republic||chaperoned from JFK|
|Greece, the Islands & Italy – 25 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|New Zealand & Australia Adventure – 23 days||chaperoned from Los Angeles (and from NY to LA)|
|Spain & Portugal – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Costa Rica||chaperoned from New York and/or Miami|
|Ecuador & Galapagos||chaperoned from Miami or Atlanta (and usually from NY to Miami/Atlanta)|
|European Discovery – 30 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|European Experience – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Iceland||chaperoned from JFK|
|Peru 28 days||chaperoned from Newark and/or Miami|
|Pre-College Enrichment Barcelona – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Pre-College Enrichment Florence – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|South Africa – 25 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Spain Language – 28 days||chaperoned from JFK|
|Thailand||chaperoned from JFK or Newark|
|Vietnam||chaperoned from JFK or Newark|
Students Flying From The Same Area
We do our best to match teens flying from the same area and co-ordinate flight itineraries so you can start building new friendships before you even arrive at your destination.
Booking Your Own Flight
On most of our programs, as long as your flights arrive and depart within the designated times, you are welcome to book your own flight directly with the airline of your choice. If you are booking your ticket as a frequent flier reward, you will need to work directly with the airline and must still book within our arrival and departure time parameters.
Every year, we find it serves clients best that once you have found the flights you want to purchase, please email the details to us for confirmation prior to purchasing any non-refundable tickets. This way, we can help catch any errors and avoid expensive corrections later.
Greeting Upon Arrival
Details on where and how you will be greeted on your arrival are reviewed in your final pre-trip information package that is sent about three weeks prior to travel. If you’re flying on a chaperoned group flight, we tell you where to meet us in the outbound airport.
Prior to departure, participants receive a complimentary Westcoast Connection t-shirt to wear on the first day of travel. This makes greeting everyone in crowded airports easy! Our communication center tracks flights and provides updated information in real time to our staff on the ground. All trip members are requested to contact home once they’ve been greeted by our staff at their point of arrival.
For return flights home, we check everyone in and see them through security. Our leaders remain in the airport until the last flight has departed.
Unaccompanied Minor Service
Most airlines provide an “Unaccompanied Minor” service whereby children not flying with an adult can be escorted by airline personnel for an additional fee. The eligible age to take advantage of this service varies by airline. We suggest checking with the airline directly on the availability of this service.
If you are booking your flight yourself, with your own agent, or directly with the airline, it is best to advise them of the age of your child. We ask that you notify our office if your child is flying as an Unaccompanied Minor. This helps us coordinate which staff will greet them upon arrival and which will bring them to check-in for their return flight home.
Some of our programs begin in the northeast with ground transport included and there may be no flight(s) required if you live in the area. Please contact us to discuss any of these itineraries.