Traveling in groups
This section outlines policies and guidelines related to the travel of any Calvin-sponsored group. Additional information regarding group travel for off-campus programs can be found on the off-campus program Web site.
Making Group Travel Arrangements
Fill out a Group Travel Request online, or e-mail the director of financial services. The form is also found at the travel services office. The director of financial services authorizes which travel agency books the travel arrangements to make sure contractual agreements are met. He and his staff will determine, based on past travel history which college-authorized travel agency, Witte or Carlson Wagonlit, will work with you. If you have an agency preference in travel, remember to check the box indicating this on the Travel Request Form. Inclusive tours which include air arrangements, accommodations, local transportation, and tour guides, will usually be sent to Witte Travel. The financial services department will e-mail you confirmation that they received your Travel Request Form and let you know your request was sent on to the travel agent. The travel agency will then contact you regarding your travel arrangements.
Group Airline Reservations
- You may reserve a block of seats (10 or more) as much as 11 months prior to departure) and we recommend you do this. Reserving a block of seats locks in the price. However, taxes and surcharges may change. January is a popular travel month, so book your flights early! A deposit per person, varying in amount, and depending on whether you are booking domestic or international flights, will be required to hold group inventory. This amount is not applied to the cost of the trip but is held until the trip is completed and then refunded. You do not lose your deposit unless you break your contract, fall below minimum number, cancel outside of deadlines, etc. If one or more of these situations occur, you will lose the deposit made for the entire group.
- Groups are defined as 10 people traveling together from the same place to the same destination and all returning to the same departure city. If you allow students to leave from another city and join the group en route, your group rate may be in jeopardy. Also, such students will pay a fee for not following the group itinerary and may find that the ticket is significantly more expensive. Make sure you check with the travel agent – Witte and Carlson Wagonlit are often able to arrange for a larger number of deviations for groups on KLM/NWA flights. Their only qualification is that the group travel on at least one of the air segments together to still qualify for the group discount.
- With most airlines, you do not need to know exactly how many will be in your group until approximately 90 days before departure. Names are needed 45–60 days prior, depending on the airline. Check out the best options for your group based on schedule, price, rules and restrictions as early as possible.
- You must travel with your group for departure and return, and you must accompany your group at all transition points (airport, train station, etc.). Any exception must be approved by the director of off-campus programs.
- Do avoid departing or returning to the US on a Sunday (out of respect for Sabbath observance). Avoid Sunday travel if possible when planning your interim itinerary. Mid-week flights are often cheaper.
- Plan for a semester break (at least two working days after your return) so that you and your students can prepare for second semester.
- Check your airlines regulations regarding check-in time, luggage weight allowance, etc. It is also a good idea to check your reservations a few days prior to departure, to be sure there are no changes in departure times (your travel agent should alert you of any, but the holidays sometimes interfere with timely communication).
Groups at the airport
Meet and Greet Services
- If you arranged with the travel agency for “meet and greet” services, a representative will be at the airport at least two hours before departure time in the case of international travel and one and a half hours before departure time for domestic flights. Should bad weather or other conditions delay the departure of a group, an agent will remain available to the group until such time as it is clear that the matter has been completely resolved.
- A Calvin representative must be present at least two hours before time of group departure. In those rare instances where the leader cannot be present, arrangements must be made for someone to be there in his/her place.