Students question fluctuation in date change fees

In August 2013, NYU Abu Dhabi changed its official travel agent from Omeir Travel to Nirvana Travel and Tourism. Recently, students have voiced their ...

In August 2013, NYU Abu Dhabi changed its official travel agent from Omeir Travel to Nirvana Travel and Tourism. Recently, students have voiced their discontentment, over social media, with Nirvana’s performance in dealing with flight change requests and high charges.
Associate Dean of Global Education Katya Grim explained how fees for changing flight dates work and the role Nirvana Travel plays in the process:
“Students should understand Nirvana does not add any extra fee charge as they are in a business contract with NYUAD … The flight changing process is complex and depends on many variables. In simple terms, travellers are charged two types of fares: a [fixed] date change fare and a fare difference,” she said.
In the case of NYUAD students whose tickets are funded by the university, all flight changes must first be approved by the Office of Global Education. Once availability and fees are confirmed by the agency, students decided whether or not they decided to proceed with the changes and pay the corresponding fee. Students cannot make changes by directly contacting the airlines, as this is a violation of the Student Travel Policy document.
Some students, however, contacted their airlines directly and changed their flights.
"I wanted to change my flight because I did not have exams till the 21st and also because I only had a 50 minute layover in Frankfurt, which was not enough to get me through customs. The office of Global Ed was not very happy," said junior Allen Magnusson.
Having changed her flight twice last year via Omeir and paying a fee of 280 AED, sophomore Fatima Atta Maan said that she was surprised by the 720 AED fee quoted by Nirvana.
However, Nirvana works works according to the school’s policies.
“Nirvana works along with the Office of Global Ed and follows their protocol only, regarding the case of students wanting to change flights,” said Nirvana senior travel consult manager Kenneth Fernandez.
“Etihad was in a special negotiation with NYU, where students can change their reservations with no fees concurred. But this was an exception and all other airlines have fixed date change rates in addition to the fare level difference price, which are variable and change everyday,” Fernandez added.
Not all students willing to change their flight dates are facing troubles with Nirvana's prices. Freshman Dmitry Dobrovolskiy, who will be flying from Dubai to Moscow via FlyDubai, reported that no changing fee was concurred.
“I was pleased with Nirvana’s service as they replied within one working day after getting an approval from Global Ed,” said Dobrovolskiy.
Student Government is looking into the issue and informing Global Ed about problems students are facing.
“Student Government is currently working with each individual complaint and directing them to the office of Global Ed so they can probe deeper into each case," said senior Alex Nyikos, Vice President of Student Government.
“Students should reach out to Nirvana as soon as possible after they receive information regarding the changing price as this price is subject to an increase as the days go on,” said Fernandez. “Currently in the airfare business, it is the peak season where there is a high demand for tickets due to Christmas and also because of Abu Dhabi’s central location as a connector of various flights from the East to the West,” he added.
“All of the fall tickets are reserved in April, when students have not chosen their courses and exam schedules are not released yet. Hence, the office of Global Ed always reserves tickets for the last day of the academic program,” explained Grim in response to whether a solution could be proposed in the future for students whose exams finish earlier. As far as the problem of accessibility to Nirvana's office is concerned, Grim said that Nirvana will open a branch on campus.
Karma Gurung is a staff writer. Email her at 
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