I made it!

What a long day it has been! But an incredible day at that!

I’ll start from where I left off in my last post:

I made it to New York by 5:45 p.m. as anticipated. But since the Bolt bus dropped us off at a different place than from where I had planned on being dropped off by Megabus, I had to recalculate how I was getting to the airport. I got two different sets of directions from the Bolt bus driver and from a friendly NYC local (I know, a friendly New Yorker seems like an oxymoron, right?), and took the advice from the latter to take the A train on the New York subway to JFK airport.

The line at customs was frightening.
The line at customs was frightening.

I arrived at the airport an hour later, just to find that my flight was delayed from a 9:45 p.m. departure to 11:15 p.m. So all that panic for nothing! I sat around in the airport for about three hours after going through customs, charging my phone and iPad. I flew Kuwait Airlines because when I was purchasing tickets for this trip in November, Kuwait Airlines had the cheapest tickets. I soon found out why. When we finally boarded the plane, I saw it was lacking, uh, modern comforts. The seats were outdated and the inflight entertainment needed some major TLC. But the staff was friendly, the food was fine, and the ride was really not uncomfortable, so I wasn’t disappointed with the flight. I got what I paid for.

Breakfast on the flight was an omelette, beans, yogurt, roll, orange juice and coffee.
Breakfast on the flight was an omelette, beans, yogurt, roll, orange juice and coffee.

I had a new cultural experience with the airline being based in Kuwait, however. All passengers were given moist towels to wash their faces and hands after boarding the flight. Later on, we were given another set of warm, wet clothes to wipe our faces and hands before landing. The flight attendants also gave specific directions as to when to close and open our window shades. No exceptions. I have not looked into why this is the routine with this airline, but I am very curious as to why! I didn’t mind having to shut and open my window at specific times, though I did wish I could have kept it open longer to be able to enjoy the view — but I did like feeling fresh and clean after wiping my face and hands!

We touched down in London at 11:30 a.m., an hour and a half later than scheduled, because of the delayed departure. Luckily my friend Sarah was patiently waiting for me at the gate. After a long, long day of traveling, it was awesome to see a friendly face!

I made it London!
I made it London!

 

StudentUniverse: my go-to site for cheap flights

I cannot speak more highly of StudentUniverse. It’s absolutely my favorite resource for finding the best deals on flights. The company is a Boston-based travel agency focused on providing college students with discounts on flights, hotels, tours, activities and rail.

HOW IT WORKS

Before you can access the deals on the site, you have to create an account using your school’s or institution’s information to verify your status as student. Once StudentUniverse’s technology confirms your status, it connects you to hundreds of companies offering discounted products and services to StudentUniverse customers.

The company has over 65 major airline partners, including American Airlines, United Airways, Virgin America, British Airways, AirFrance, Jet Airways and numerous others. It’s travel company partners include the following:

Travel Guard Rail Europe HostelBookers G Adventures G Adventures

Student Universe has also partnered with travel sites such as Kayak, TravelZoo and Fly.com, so that those sites can redirect you StudentUniverse for discounts once you find your flight.

THEIR JUSTIFICATION

“It’s about getting the most out of your time in school. We believe in the positive effects that travel experiences can have on a person’s character and that having those experiences early on in life is critical in personal development. We believe that travel enriches education and that students should be able to experience their world without breaking the bank.” (http://www.studentuniverse.com/about-us)

FLIGHTS

My favorite feature on the site is the flight flexibility grid. When searching for a flight, you have the options of making your travel dates flexible and choosing from multiple airports in an area. If you select those options, StudentUniverse displays a grid comparing the cheapest flights on the market for a range of days around the departure and return dates you indicated. I’ve been able to save $300 on a flight just by flying out the night before I had planned.

grid

Thanks to StudentUniverse I was able to book my round trip ticket to London for my Mini Rider tour in June. I saved hundreds of dollars by picking an earlier departure day. Now I’ll be flying in to London a few days before the tour begins, so I’ll have more time to explore the city. Next, I’ll have to look into budget hostels or some place to Couchsurf while I’m in London!