Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ticket Reimbursement and Air Travel to South Korea

Here's the question:

I am coming to South Korea to teach English in August with CDI. I have to purchase my plane ticket, and I was wondering if you knew what the best airlines were. My third party recruiter, Aclipse, offers a travel agent, but I'm concerned this might be a scam. Also, CDI says that they will reimburse me for the ticket or only for 1,000,000 won expense (why?). If you have any info on this, I'd appreciate it. There appears to be little info on the net, sadly, about the flights and reimbursements. Current information, at least. Thanks again. I love the site, keep up the great work :-)


Thanks for the kind words.

Purchasing tickets beforehand is always a little unnerving for new teachers. When I was doing my pre-Korea research years ago, I stumbled across many schools that required self-purchasing, but I decided that stay away from them. It just didn't seem worth the risk at that point and still, I would suggest that teachers insist that the school take care of flight arrangements. I know that this might not be possible as some schools have well-established rules. CDI is one of those schools, yet I would not be concerned about reimbursement from them. Chung Dahm Institute is a reputable school so -assuming you have talked to a couple current AND FORMER CDI teachers- I'd say that you should have very little to worry about on that front.

The choice of airlines depends largely on you. Since it's still May, I would spend some serious time scouring the web looking for the cheapest flight. The reason CDI caps your ticket price is to prevent you from taking the best of the best or "accidentally" adding any extra or extended stops along the way. I would double check with your school about the 1,000,000 won though. For a long time, the exchange rate was hovering around 1 USD: 1,000 won (which is probably where they got the 1,000,000 won limit from), but these days currencies and exchange rates can fluctuate drastically. Today, 1,000,000 won will only trade for 789 dollars. Depending where you're flying from, that might not even be enough to cover the flight, so see if you can get them to put a 1,000 DOLLAR limit on there rather than a won limit. I say that with no idea of whether they will accept it or not, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

I guess I should also mention that Korea is having a minor spat with teachers and swine flu and CDI in particular has closed down for a few days because of that "fear". It should be all cleared up by the time you arrive unless, of course, it turns into a hip summer protest like last years beef protests. I wouldn't worry about that though. If you're swine-free then you'll be fine.

For now, think about getting the dollar/won thing straightened out and maybe even send a current teacher an email and see what they think. Either way, suggesting an airline wouldn't help at this point. Deals change all the time. I'd start fishing around for cheap flights now since you have so much time before headind this way.

If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at or leave a comment.


Open Micah said...

I personally like Korean Air and Asiana. Both of them are Korean airlines and usually have good rates. They also have excellent in-flight media players with a wide selection of movies and TV, and those can make a 14 hour flight seem a lot shorter than it actually is. They have decent meals, too.

Open Micah said...

The Korean airlines also don't have the awful, middle-aged hag stewardesses that American airlines have, and they don't charge you for alcohol.

Dustin said...

I work for CDI, used the travel agent suggested by Aclipse, and had zero problems, it was very easy. I emailed the travel agent, she wrote back the next day, I confirmed with my credit card #. Done. It was under $700 to fly from Portland, to San Francisco, to Seoul.

The Expat said...

Thanks for the info, Dustin.

Open Micah said...

One thing to consider. If you don't live on the West Coast, tack on another $100-300 to the price.

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