State Of The Map/Planning/Supporting scholars
Answers to typical questions
Periods of extended stay
It is possible for scholars to extend their stay if:
- it does not inversely impact their travel visa process or otherwise put at risk the likelihood of them attending SotM;
- it does not increase costs to OSMF (e.g. the flight home must be a similar or cheaper price, or the difference covered by the scholar);
- the scholar pays for all costs (e.g. hotels, etc) incurred during the extra days; and
- the extended stay is not too extravagant, thereby bringing in to question whether the applicant even needed a scholarship in the first place.
Scholars need to state clearly what date they want their flight to depart and what date they want to arrive back. They should look on flight checker websites if they are unclear of the options. We will then try to book something that fits with this.
Travel must be a round trip from/to the same location. An alternate return airport is permit-able only if in close proximity to the original (e.g. the next nearest international airport) and is for the purpose of easing travel arrangements only.
When this is required we typically work with our selected travel agent to provide it for the duration of the visit. An alternate option is to use World Nomads.
Proof of flight reservation
For those scholar who need a visa many countries ask to see a flight reservation, itinerary or ticket. This creates a chicken and egg situation - if the visa is not granted then money is wasted on a flight that cannot be used. There appears to be a few options available:
- Book a flight that is fully refundable.
- This is the best option that complies with all visa requirements. Such a flight may not be possible or may come with a higher price.
- Use a travel agent that can issue flight reservation (or flight itinerary) before confirmation and final payment.
- This option was the one we used for State of the Map 2016 in Brussels (Schengen travel zone). The travel agent issued flight tickets with a reservation number that we indicative only. Some people call it dummy booking but it’s actually a real booking except you didn’t pay for the full price yet because it was just a reservation. Once visas had been issued an actual flight booking was made and paid for. This often used different flights than the original indicative booking.
- Use a "Hold" facility on a flight booking.
- Services such as FindMyFare and Yatra allow you to place a flight "on hold" prior to making a payment. Although we have not yet used this service it appears to allow you to generate a flight itinerary with reservation number before making any payments. These can be cancelled at anytime. Some airline website also allow you to make an "on hold" booking. Look for a 6 digit reservation. You may even be able to confirm this via the airline website or (depending upon which reservation system has been used) CheckMyTrip (Amadeus), ViewTrip (Galileo), or VirtuallyThere (SABRE).
- Use a paid service.
- There are numerous websites that allow you to buy a "flight reservation" for the purpose of the visa process. Beware, this seems to be getting into some risky practices. We have not used this and we do not recommend using this.