Are you or anyone you know is making plans to visit USA? Are the plans to just visit your family/ relatives or visit different cities? Are you now facing the daunting task of booking the air tickets?

Relax- things have become much easier now. Thanks to Visit USA, it is now possible to book for travel to destinations within the U.S. while in India itself- it's easy and gets you fantastic prices!

Visit USA Explained

If you will be traveling extensively around the US, ask your travel agent or airline about Visit USA. These discount tickets are offered by many major US airlines, including American, Delta, Northwest, TWA, United, and US Airways, to travelers from abroad.

It allows foreign nationals or US citizens who reside abroad to purchase tickets that have unlimited standby travel within the US during their stay. The tickets must be purchased abroad, usually in conjunction with an International round-trip ticket; and must be purchased before departing for the US.

The Visit USA pass consist of a book of coupons - each representing one flight, and valid for 60 - 120 days from the use of the first coupon. For frequent flyers the pass works out much cheaper than buying flights individually.

Every airline has a minimum amount of coupons and the coupons can range from three (minimum) to 8-12 (depending on the airline). The more coupons you purchase, the higher the percentage of discount. There is also a two-tier pricing scheme depending on whether the Visit USA pass is issued by the same airline you used to travel to the US or a different one. Although the difference is about $15/sector, but the prices and programs may differ on other airlines.

The Benefits

The biggest benefit is the amount of money you can save since you pay a flat rate of the number of cities you visit compared to booking the tickets individually or independently after reaching US. However, industry experts that it's always better to decide the cities you are planning to visit.

You can always ask a travel agent or call the airlines to determine, how much saving you can do by choosing VUSA. The coupon gives you the freedom to fly anywhere in the U.S., regardless of distance. And if you stick to the parent airline itself, instead of opting for a different carrier in US, you can earn yourself some more concessions. This can be a good deal for people on business visas and for excursion trips.

The best way to use it

According to the industry expert, the VUSA ticket can really turnout to be economical if you effectively plan and utilize it. Do not select places and time in random. Do some research and then buy; otherwise in some situations you might end up using more than one coupon to reach a particular destination. For example, you do not get a convenient direct flight for your particular destination on the day you wish to travel or if you opt out of awkward flight schedules then, you may choose to break your journey and take more than one flight to reach your destination. But, in that process, you end up using more than one coupon for reaching the same place.

Another thing is that no refunds are allowed after the first flight segment has been flown and rerouting can cost you extra bucks! Plan you schedule in advance. Do keep in mind that you have to use up your first coupon within 120 days of landing in the U.S (varying with the airlines). And you have to use up all the coupons within 60 days of using the first coupon.

To get a good deal, you should know about the two seasons - the basic (non-peak) pre-May fares and the peak June-to-end-August / Christmas-festive season fares. The peak season fares will be significantly higher (a United Airlines non-peak fare of US$486 can go up to US$599 in the peak season for a 3 coupon VUSA ticket). So as to get the best deal, plan your trip according to the seasons.

In addition, be sure and select sector/destination in advance. You can end up getting very good deals; but the deal might sour out, if you later change your mind (you have to pay close to $70-100 per re-routing). Hence, make up your mind, do some research and be sure of the places you want to visit and then buy; this way you will end up saving a good amount of money.

Things to keep in mind

International visitors to the US can save to around twenty percent (or more) on various one-way and round-trip fares within the continental US, using Visit USA. The "Visit USA" fare is a bit impractical for students already in the US and who plan on returning to continue their studies. However, family members who are coming to visit and wish to tour the US will find a distinct advantage in purchasing these tickets.

You can purchase the pass either before arrival in the US or within fifteen days of arrival; however, purchase prior to departure for the US will result in greater savings. And as explained earlier, research and plan you schedule in advance to get the best deals.

But do keep one thing in mind- before buying one of these passes, always compare the cost with the prices of basic excursion fares; sometimes the excursion fares are cheaper. Also ask about all the taxes, service fees and charges for the ticket delivery, which would be charged to your Credit card, so that in the end you are not taken by surprise.

In addition, please contact the airline for further information as fares and regulations regarding the "Visit USA" fare are constantly changing. Ends.

The major US airlines are as follows: (box item)

  • Alaska Airlines (1-800-426-0333)
  • America West (1-800-235-9292)
  • American (1-800-433-7300)
  • Continental (1-800-525-0280)
  • Delta (1-800-241-4141)
  • Northwest (1-800-225-2525)
  • Southwest (1-800-435-9792)
  • TWA (1-800-221-2000)
  • United (1-800-241-6522)
  • US Airways (USAir) (1-800-248-4322)