Why Can’t I Buy AuPair Plane Tickets and Save Money on Agency Fees?

by cv harquail on February 8, 2015

au pair plane ticketsWhat if you had 100 million frequent flyer miles?

Or a $700 credit with an airline that flies from NYC to your Au Pair’s home city?

Could you purchase your Au Pair’s plane ticket– in either direction — and save money on your Au Pair Agency fee?

Our first au pair’s 2 years is about up and I would like to save money on the fees by using some of my frequent flyer miles. When I asked the agency the placement coordinator I spoke to said it was not allowed and is non-negotiable.
I asked why and they said it was for ‘liability reasons’. When I asked further, she admitted that she didn’t know the context behind these liability concerns. I asked her nicely to get me in contact with somebody that knows more about this.
So far, I have not been able to talk to them reach them yet. Without much details, the ‘liability reasons’ feels like a convenient excuse to me so I want to know if there are any government mandates/rules/regulations that prohibits AP agencies from allowing host parents to do this. From the the published rules (22 CFR Part 62.31) it sure doesn’t look like it. But then again, there may be other situations where these liability concerns may materialize — but I don’t know that.
[[In a 2012 AuPairMom post, it was mentioned that “Some agencies (for example, Agent Au Pair) will allow you to arrange and directly pay for your au pair’s air travel to your home.” I checked out Agent Au Pair and it doesn’t look like that option/discount is being offered any more. ]]
Any thoughts? ~ AP DF


Anna February 8, 2015 at 10:05 am

This is another way agencies make profit, and they are not going to allow you to cut into that.

I had a situation where I was with AuPairCare for the first time after being with Interexchange. Interexchange allowed me to arrange travel for my au pair from orientation to my home, and it cost me $30 in a bus ticket. AuPairCare didn’t allow that. They charged me for a plane ticket that on my own, at that same time, I could buy for five times cheaper!!!! Their excuses: oh, they have a bus bringing them to airport, a chaperone, a hotline they can call in case of trouble….. After I told them I could fly five(!!!) chaperons with my au pair for that price, they did give me a bit of a discount, but not nearly as much as I would have saved buying the ticket on my own.

NoVA Twin Mom February 8, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Maybe I’m feeling snarky today – but the agency really told you the extra cost was a CHAPERONE? They’re telling you that the au pair you picked is mature, responsible, etc enough to be able to care for your children for a year – but needs a chaperone to go through a US airport? Less than a week after they arrived by plane from their home country and therefore passed through – at a minimum – two airports, probably three?

The “hotline” I kind of understand, though I’d rather my au pair call me, because the last time our agency tried to “assist” with changing travel plans, their solution was to keep the au pair at the orientation hotel overnight and fly out the next day (at something like $500 extra to us because she would need a chaperone at the hotel, of course, plus the extra cost of getting her individually to the airport). Our solution was to have her fly instead to the airport 30 miles from our house yet that evening and we’d pick her up there (extra cost to us – some time but $0).

WCO HD February 8, 2015 at 11:08 am

We are preparing for the arrival of our first au pair in July (yay!) and are currently fighting (and losing) with CCAP over the exact same issue. Another family in our area recently paid $800 for their domestic transportation cost. I priced flights from NYC to our town and they are currently about $280. CCAP says they will charge us $700! And no room to budge. At all. We were given the same ‘liability’ reasoning and of course told that it includes a bus from the training school and that we only pay it once per program year. So if we were to rematch or our au pair went home early, we would not pay it again. It seems to me that we are just covering their rear ends for possible rematch situations. So why not allow host families to book their own ticket and then make it known that if you rematch that you are also responsible for the new au pair’s domestic ticket as well? Seems like an easy solution to me. But, considering many families don’t need a second au pair during their program year, this basically just ends up being profit for the agency. I don’t generally begrudge anyone the ability to make a profit, but considering what we already pay in regular fees this does seem rather egregious.

NoVA Twin Mom February 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Are you talking about the plane ticket from orientation to your home? Because if you use APIA, there’s no option to have the company buy the ticket for you, you HAVE to buy it yourself.

You’re supposed to buy a nonrefundable ticket “just in case” but we tend to buy the cheap kind and either get insurance or just figure we’ll end up losing the cost of the ticket if something went wrong (at which point the cost of the ticket would be the least of our problems). We are somewhat within driving distance if there were ever a big problem – we *could* go pick our au pair up. When I buy the ticket I do try to get our au pair on the same flight or train as another au pair though – it’s nice for them to have some company and arrive with a friend.

Unfortunately, this is how your agency prefers to do business and has always done it, rather than a State Department requirement. I know that APIA seems to have a contract with -someone- to buy tickets because they get the tickets from au pairs’ home countries to New York as well as “cover” the tickets for rematch au pairs and extension au pairs. Both times I’ve had to bring an au pair to the airport for a ticket that the agency paid for (one going into rematch, one extending with another family) the plane left at something like 6 AM, requiring a 5 AM dropoff (though we went even earlier for the rematch au pair because NO WAY was she going to miss that plane :)) so I suspect that they get the absolute cheapest fares available, even after asking the au pair what would be convenient (then buying something else). Maybe by running ALL of their tickets through a contract they get a better volume discount? The only prices they’d “see” are the ticket they pick and (presumably) higher priced ones.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

I’m with APIA as well – and every Thursday night that orientation ends, an “AP Train” runs to my city (a decade ago there were 16 APIA clusters in my city – I have no idea how many are here now). I pay for transportation, but am highly encouraged to use Amtrak, and I do, as a final bonding experience for my AP with other APs in the area – not just my cluster.

APIA does bulk ticket purchasing for APs flying into the country – many of my APs have flown to the US with other APs coming to the US. For the return flight, I swear they use Travelocity or a similar service. Once, a friend of my AP had a flight home with 4 legs to the journey!! Four!! We looked it up on Travelocity, and sure enough it was the cheapest flight by far. We had the AP challenge the itinerary with HQ – the chances that she would return home with all of her luggage decreased with each leg of the journey. She was able to get a 2-flight return, as have most of my APs who are not flying to a major city.

WestMom February 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm

We are with InterExchange and host families are responsible for transport from training to home. Conveniently, training is in midtown NYC where both DH and I work so it’s easy travel. One of the reason we have been sticking with InterExchange for the last 7yrs.

TexasHM February 8, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Cultural Care does this and honestly, is one of the reasons we didn’t go with them years ago when we started hosting. With APIA and IE we booked tickets ourselves and I used AA miles all day because I could cancel and get my miles posted back to my account, plus I could often get last minute and one way fares for very low mileage and it was awesome! Living in DFW (American airlines headquarters) I can literally buy a plane ticket from NYC to DFW for between $108-200 depending on the day/time (and have) and yet the “zone” we are in for CCAP mandates a $475 charge for this exact route and we don’t have a say (as far as I know) about the flights and times. (Happy to be proven wrong here!).
Now, we still went with CCAP because they have several key advantages for us (experienced and respected LC, by far largest and local cluster, transparency of their rematch process in case our AP has a family emergency – happened to us, etc) but I SO wish they would let us book our own travel!!!!!! I was told host families were unreliable in booking and they want to make sure all the arrangements are done before orientation which I understand so I wish they would make the rule HPs book it by X date or the agency books it for $475 (or whatever your zone rate is). Maybe this blog post will help CCAP reconsider because I know a couple families in our area that were shocked at the travel fee charged because it’s so cheap to fly direct to anywhere to/from here! I am sure they don’t mean it to seem like a money grab but in this case that’s how it comes across unfortunately.
Another alternative would be for them to book travel but charge families the actual cost. Yes, I realize this requires a little more bookkeeping on the agency’s part but I would be much more amenable to paying the actual price of travel if I was told I couldn’t use my miles.

SKNY February 8, 2015 at 9:40 pm

I believe OP meant flight from Au pair home, to decrease agency fees. Not domestic fees.
As per domestic fees this is one more way some agencies make money. Simple like that

Taking a Computer Lunch February 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

HF don’t pay for the flight home with APIA, well we do, but not directly. It’s part of the fees.

HRHM February 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm

We have been with CC, APC and APIA. With CC, they booked the flight but the price was pretty close to what I would have paid, annoying but not a real issue. With APC, they forced me to pay 400 for a flight that I could see right on the website was 140. When I tried to argue that point, they threatened to not allow my AP to come to my home! (first and last year using them for more than just that reason). With APIA, I book my own travel from school and I really prefer this method.

Dorsi February 8, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Appreciating this reminder of why we stay with Apia. $400 for the flight I can buy for $120.

Leaving a Comment February 8, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Each agency has its own way of making money. APiA simply charges more for the program fee. They have the highest program and matching fee combined of all the agencies out there currently. Interexchange is non-profit, so it makes sense.

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 1:10 am

We really didn’t pay any less with Interexchange surprisingly (than APIA)! All the agencies have their fees and discounts that for the most part keep them all in line, as was said, one has the travel fee, another has a higher program fee or match fee or extra paperwork fee or whatever else. Where IE did have the advantage (or appeared advantage we didn’t have this happen) is in extension, they do appear to be a defined step lower than the other agencies for the extension APs staying in the same family. Yes the travel policy with CCAP is an annoyance but the costs were in line, they were great to work with and we really like that they have direct agency offices in the countries they recruit from. Why? Less incentive to push through mediocre or less than ideal candidates. My ex-APs told me many stories of candidates they knew getting turned down by CCAP and going to other agencies and sailing through. I also like that they pay for the cost of the plane ticket home if the AP burns out. Agencies, like HFs, have their pluses and minuses and you have to find the lid for your pot in that arena too! :) Our next AP arrives in April I am curious to see how this plays out with them booking the travel. Will update after the fact with anything I learn there.

Host Mom in the City February 9, 2015 at 7:15 am

Yep – this is another reason we only did CC for one year. We were charged a large travel fee for what I could have booked for 1/3 of the price and no one would listen to me about having that changed.

Incidentally, if you truly crunch the numbers for all the agencies (some have match fees, some have SEVIS fee separate, some you book the travel separate, some have discounts, etc, they’re all just about the same. Don’t forget those hidden costs when comparing agency costs!

And TexasHM – I’ve had multiple APs tell me they had friends that we’re rejected by other agencies and sailed through CC. It’s funny how different the agencies are depending on your area, your LCC, and the countries you recruit from!

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

HMiTC that is interesting! Yes great point too about it depending on what country you recruit from – you may have one agency that doesn’t have candidates from there at all and then another agency where the majority of their candidates are from that particular country. And +1 too on the LC factor. I used to think all were created equal (3 LCCs in 3 years at APIA, 3 LCs in 3 years at IE in our area) because we never had an experienced one but wow we learned that lesson the hard way this year. It was our APIA ex-APs and IE ex-AP (different countries) that all encouraged us to try CCAP based on what they had seen first hand and knowing friends that were CC APs. Verdict is out yet but from an onboarding perspective they win hands down. The resources they offer and the support during the matching process has been exceptional. In fact I used their handbook template and their first time host family materials (interview questions, templates) our first round even though we ended up going with APIA! Fingers crossed! Like you said, the travel fee is an annoyance but the total costs paid all end up fleshing out to be literally within dollars of each other so do your homework and don’t worry so much about the initial apparent costs, those will work themselves out. Although I do REALLY hope that CCAP will see how many people this turns off and reconsider their travel policy whether that means an actual cost model or better yet, allowing HFs to book their own as long as its by a deadline!!

Host Mom in the City February 9, 2015 at 11:40 am

Totally agree, and really hope it works out for you! It is interesting that it’s all a wash after you compare all the different fees and the way different agencies charge you.

I wonder how the price differs between agencies for au pairs…?

WarmStateMomma February 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm

My incoming AP said her cost in China ranged from $3k to $6k – so the variance in fees for Chinese APs is more significant than for HFs. We would have considered staying with APC but their Chinese counterpart charged $6k for the AP and we had problems with their fees to HFs last time around. The LCC we have is a wonderfully kind woman, though.

I hate paying close to $500 for the agency to fly my AP from training to my house when I can do it for free with miles on a direct flight, instead of the crappy agency-booked flights. I also know the agency is charging 2 or 3 times what I would pay without miles, so it’s pretty much just a profit item for the agency. For this reason, I treat the domestic travel surcharge as part of the agency fee when comparing the costs of the agencies. In the end, it’s pretty much a wash with most agencies. (API is still the cheapest, but not worth it IMO.)

My APs also report that they have to pay a travel surcharge depending on which city in China they are flying from. They are told their fees to the agency in China covers the cost of their airfare, training and insurance – so they are pretty surprised to hear that the HFs are told their fees cover those costs.

We had our HF interview with CC last week. It was pretty brief since we’ve hosted before and our current AP let the LCC know that she’s happy here. There was no discussion of what’s allowed, beyond a brief recitation of the 10/45/1.5/2 week rules. At least they met us and confirmed we aren’t dangerous lunatics early enough for our incoming AP to avoid making a doomed trip – which is more than I can say for API.

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 12:37 pm

I find that interesting as well. It seems to vary quite a bit country to country which I guess makes sense if you consider that CCAP opens direct offices and most of the larger agencies use independent recruiters. In one country they are the most expensive, in the next country they are in the middle, in the next they are cheaper! I have asked our previous APs how they decided and it often boiled down to geo – their recruiting agency was closest to their city and since the application process requires lots of trips to the office that was often a deciding factor moreso than the agency fee.

Skny February 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I saw that inter exchange had a discount for agency fees if Au pair extended with same agency. Does any other agency offer those? Other than CC does any other agency request 1.5 consecutive days?

WarmStateMomma February 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I think all the agencies offer some discount for extensions, which makes sense since the agency saves airfare and training costs.

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Yes, most agencies have a discount in agency fees if your current AP decides to extend for a second year with you. I know first hand that APIA, CCAP and IE do discount the extension term. With all of these as well you do not get a discount for hosting a 2nd year AP (they were in another family year 1 and then come to you), it has to be an AP that you are hosting extending for additional time. And yes, as far as I know there is at least one other agency that has the 1.5 consecutive day rule, if I remember correctly GAP has that rule too.
Warmstatemomma I do the same thing – include all the costs (inc travel fee) in my calculations so while it is annoying, they still always end up being about the same price so whether they call it a match fee or travel fee or whatever it’s all the same to me but – if they would change it then it would become a cost savings for me which would be great!

WarmStateMomma February 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

My incoming AP reported that CC originally turned her down for IQ status because she had too few hours, but she was in the process of earning them at a day care with infants in her group. Once I contacted CC and let them know we wanted to pre-match with her, they re-evaluated her application and suddenly found that her hours counted. :)

Our current AP had very little legitimate child care experience when she arrived, but she is intelligent and motivated and we had a great experience. I think that profile works well for our family and that’s what we looked for in our pre-match AP. Also, child care norms are pretty different in China and I like the idea of not having to convince the AP to change her ways.

I’d be interested in a post about when to look for experience (perhaps this is important for HKs with a special medical issue?) and when to look for potential (at the expense of experience).

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I agree that would be interesting. We have always opted for the latter (potential over experience) and its worked out great for us but I can totally see how experience would be more important in certain families. It looks like we tend to a similar profile (did you have your current AP take the free DiSC online? I’d be curious to know where she falls and how she compares to your new arrival).

WarmStateMomma February 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm

No, we didn’t have our current AP take a DiSC. It would be interesting, though, if all the APs did it and I could see which profiles work with our family and which don’t. For the color thing that one agency does, all the Chinese APs end up with blue, yellow or white as their primary and secondary color.

AP#1 did take some sort of online personality test that advises what kind of career would suit her. She basically scored zero personality (49 or 51 percent on each spectrum tested), so it was no help.

WestMom February 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm

I am surprised IE was almost the same price. Once I tag my discounts (repeat family, multiples), we consistently are 800-1000 less than APC and CC (I have never compared APIA). I am not sure if this has anything to do with it, but InterExchange is one of the few non-profit agencies out there (I think Euraupair is non-profit too). Somehow it makes me feel comfortable that IE is not pushing for profits.

Seattle Mom February 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

I agree with this.. I haven’t crunched the numbers but it all seems about the same. They just package it differently. I really appreciate though that IE doesn’t make you pay the whole program fee before the AP arrives (just $2500 down). Since we pay the whole she-bang out of our checking account (and it usually puts us in ‘oops there goes the rainy day fund’ territory) it really helps us.

We just switched to IE after 3 years with CCAP. Not for any particular reason, just that we found the au pair we liked with IE this time. It was the first time we looked at a second agency. I hope it all goes well. I don’t really want to test the re-match pool :).

As for the OP’s question, it would be nice if we could book international travel, for those of us with miles. But the international flight costs are all tied in with the program fees, and I think even the fees au pairs pay. It would be hard to detangle it (I think?) and in the end the agencies would find a way to make up that income… And for me, the hassle would outweigh any savings. I don’t want to deal with that.

In Rematch Hell - AGAIN February 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm

We are with APIA and we do the extended payment plan, so for six months out of the year, we are making a monthly payment. I think this year our monthly payment is right under $1K. They tack on a $50/month charge but we hated paying everything up front so we ate the fee for the convenience of spacing out the payments.

Seattle Mom February 13, 2015 at 6:40 pm

This is one area where we have crunched the numbers, and we have found that if we don’t have the money in our savings it is cheaper to pay the whole thing by credit card and pay the interest to our credit card company, than to pay for the extended payment plan. Now that we have a HELOC (home equity line of credit) our financing costs are even less, but we really try to do as much as we can without paying for financing. Our only debt is our home mortgage and my student loans. No car debt, and no consumer debt if we can help it.

Taking a Computer Lunch February 14, 2015 at 12:13 am

I choose to do this: set aside as much as I can every pay check and to only claim one tax deduction. Over the years (remember I have been hosting for 14 years) that number has gone up. Between the savings and the returns on my taxes, I just about make the full fee (there are a few gifts here and there that make up the difference).

DH convinced me to put monthly fees on my credit card once. Quite frankly, I have never caught up. (The Camel has probably consumed a university education three times over – it’s no mean feat having a medically fragile child combined with choosing to pay through the nose for an AP!)

NoVA Twin Mom February 14, 2015 at 8:11 am

We use their payment plan not because it saves us money but twice now we’ve had early rematches. One at two months in and one at four days in. As unpleasant as both experiences were at least the agency wasn’t holding our whole year’s program fee while it was happening – only one or two payments.

Mimi February 9, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Since our AP arrival dates have never coincided with other arrivals to the area, we’ve gone to get the APs from orientation, rather than having them take a train or bus (which most local HFs have them do). HD likes to take the ride and usually my oldest goes along. They make an excursion out of it and it has been a nice way to ease the APs into the family scene.

Flights home are usually gross early morning hours, but HD is an early bird and usually up by then anyway. I was grateful that our only rematch was an early flight so that all the kids would be asleep and not have to witness her departure drama.

I was recently disappointed to learn that CCAP doesn’t always pay for flights home, even though the reason for leaving early is (IMO) legitimate. Our current AP will have to leave before her year is up because of an academic situation at home that is beyond her control. She will have to pay for her own flight, which was devastating for her because she borrowed money for the program and is sending all her money home.

Host Mom X February 9, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I think I’ve posted before about my annoyance with APC over the travel fee issue/insisting on a flight when a train would be much more convenient and comfortable for the APs coming to my area, and the BS responses they give about why they insist on it, and the truly rude, non-customer-centered responses I got all the way up the line, from the first person I spoke with to the higher-level managers they put me on with. I agree that each agency finds a way to shift the fees around so that they all end up costing about the same; but for a line item that I can clearly see is off, you’d think they’d do a better job on the customer service/explanation front.

We are with APIA now, and for us their travel arrangements were much more sane-sounding. (We live within a train ride – not a flight – of the AP training for both APIA and APC. APC insisted on a ridiculously expensive and inconvenient flight that would have taken longer than a train ride with travel time to and from the airports and security incorporated. We finally got APC to make an “exception” and “allow” us to arrange for our AP to be transported from the training to the Amtrak station; even though when we used to live near the APC training center, we always just picked up our AP ourselves – not really sure how this was different and considered such an “exception.” We had a family member who lived nearby pick up our AP and bring her to the train station.)

TexasHM February 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm

We don’t have multiples so I can’t put that calculation in there and we haven’t explored APC so I can’t speak to them but coming from APIA to IE there really wasn’t a difference and now going from IE to CCAP we are very close again. We too went to IE because we liked the non-profit angle and policies but the APs having to buy their own ticket home created huge angst in our situation when AP originally agreed to rematch and was relieved and admitted she was in over her head and miserable only to turn around after speaking with the LC and beg us for another chance because she didn’t have the money for a ticket home (after 2 car accidents and MANY safety issues we were on about her 8th second chance already and had to hold our ground). We don’t ever want to be in that situation again. It’s hard enough to have a match not work out, I can’t take the added guilt! And yes, I never felt like they were pushing for profits but there are some plus sides to having an organization want to work for your money as well so as usual, no magic bullet!

Schnitzelpizza February 10, 2015 at 8:02 am

I think in one of the au pair groups on facebook we surmised that the agencies might be cross-financing more expensive flights by charging more for flights that would be less expensive for the host family to book directly?

How are families charged for their au pair’s travel cost?
Is it a flat rate that is the same no matter where you and your au pair live?
Or do you pay more for au pairs from say China than you would pay for an au pair from Canada? Do you pay more if you live in Seattle and the agency’s workshop is in New York than you would pay if you lived in Chicago?

wco hd February 10, 2015 at 11:29 am

Not sure if this is true with all agencies, but with CCAP the international portion of the AP’s flight is included in the agency fee and does not vary depending on what country the AP is from. However, it is the domestic flight that is a separate fee. With CCAP the way it works is that the country is divided into regions and the price is determined by region. The further the region is from the training school in NYC, the more expensive it is. Each region has a flat rate and certain cities within that region that are eligible for that flat rate. If you live in a city that is not included, then they add another surcharge on top of that. This is the boat we are in right now. So we have our regional flat fee that is $300 more than an actual ticket cost right, and then a $200 surcharge on top of that because we are in the wrong city.

TexasHM February 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Agreed – APIA and IE also cover the AP travel to NY but the families are responsible for getting the AP from training to the host family’s house, difference being with those two agencies the host families can book the travel themselves. I don’t know of any agencies that vary fees based on where the AP is from. With CCAP as stated we are in a $475 zone with several other cities that are actually more expensive to fly into so while some of those cities may very well cost more to fly into, we can book tickets for $108-200 depending on the date which is obviously WAY cheaper than $475. In fairness, CCAP worked with us on the overall costs to make sure we got all the applicable discounts for switching and whatnot and in the end got the costs very close to what we paid at APIA and IE so we were happy with that, I think it’s just their travel concept that really chafes host families. Meaning if I could book my own travel and use miles there would be a cost savings here but I can’t so there isn’t.

SKNY February 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm

True! We just booked flights for our whole family from NY to the big airport in your area for $96 a piece (taxes included). Will be in Texas all next week!!!

TexasHM February 10, 2015 at 4:41 pm

OMGosh!!! We have to connect while you are here!!!!!

Schnitzelpizza February 11, 2015 at 5:58 am

Thank you all for your explanations on how it works on the host parents side!

WarmStateMomma February 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm

We pay extra based on where the host family lives, but not where the AP lives. Chinese APs pay a surcharge based on which Chinese city they want to depart from and I don’t know if it’s related to the actual cost of flying them from that city. My guess is that it’s just a profit item for the agencies like the surcharges on US flights.

FWIW – flight costs are a bit wacky in the US. I can fly (non-refundable COACH, 2 weeks notice) from my city – one of the largest in the country – to Wichita (Kansas) for $1550 or to an obscure rural airport in Indonesia for $1250.

TexasHM February 10, 2015 at 1:32 pm

All the more reason to have host families book and pay for travel! ;) (The variance of flight options and costs.) The alternative (flat rate pricing) just ensures that either some families will be overcharged to compensate for others that are undercharged or that the agency will make a profit to ensure everyone is overcharged which as shown, creates a negative impression of the agency. They had to start doing this for a reason (I was told they used to let HFs book travel). If it was because HFs were booking crazy flights (4 legs) then you could institute a 1 stop limit policy or say the agency needs to approve the itinerary before booking. If it was because HFs weren’t booking until the last minute or at all then you require host families to book by X deadline or they lose their match. If it was because host families were booking too early then you give them a window like the other agencies do (do not book before 6pm on Thursday or you can pay for an extra night of hotel and AP can leave the next morning no later than 10am). If it’s because they want to make more money then bump up the match fee or agency fee and let me use my miles to make up for it on the flight. ;)

Host Mom in the City February 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on with the picture in this post ;)

HRHM February 10, 2015 at 1:03 pm

It’s a flying kitten, of course.

Host Mom in the City February 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Oh of course, now it makes total sense lol

Emerald City HM February 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

There appears to be a notification that an earlier comment is awaiting moderation. Not sure what’s up with that…

happyhostmom February 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Speaking a little off topic, but have a question for a friend who asked me this and I didn’t know the answer. My friend’s au pair has been here for two years and her extension ends in July. However, the au pair has been granted student status and is going to stay her in the US, study and live with her boyfriend. She is planning to go back to her own country to get a Student Visa, so she can go back and forth and visit her mom and sister. However she doesn’t want to go back until August (right before school starts) My friend wants to know if the agency would still pay for the flight home, if it’s outside of the time of her Au Pair term. I told her I thought they should still have to pay for it, as they are obligated to give her a flight home. however, after reading this post, I’m not so sure. Any advice?

SKNY February 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm

if extension ends in july, doesnt she get the 30 days travel? that would take her into August

HostMomCA February 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Just a word of caution about student visas — it isn’t a sure thing until the au pair returns to her home country and gets the visa granted at the US Embassy. Our former au pair got accepted to a local college, got all of the paperwork and approvals from the school, and was planning to return to study and live with her boyfriend. She returned to her home country in June (Germany) to see her family and was planning to return to the US in August to start school. Her student visa was denied, and her appeal was also denied. She has only been able to get a tourist visa for 3 months (and the college won’t let her enroll until she gets a student visa). Your friend’s au pair should make sure to give herself enough time to get her visa and have a plan B in case her visa is denied.

TexasHM February 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm

It gets tricky too if she has already been granted a student visa and that shows in the system. If you change status while you are here (get married, change to student) the minute that gets approved you are no longer an AP legally and you forfeit your program completion. That doesn’t sound like the case though because then you say she is going back to her country to get the student visa so what I am guessing you are saying is a local school has approved her to become a student there but she has not applied yet for a change of visa, in which case if she finished her year and then went home and got the student visa then yes the agency would have to pay for her ticket, she would get credit for completing her AP program and she could come back on a student visa within 30 days of the first day of school. She also needs to have a sponsor but I am guessing her boyfriend or family is covering that as you didn’t mention it. Not an attorney, just a host mom that has had to say no to sponsoring a student visa before. :)

happyhostmom February 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Thanks. Yes, her boyfriends family (generous souls) are sponsoring her. And her family has the means to pay. Sorry I meant to say that her year ends in June. To clarify: 1. She is going back to Ireland to get her student visa. However, in the meantime, in order not to have to go back to her country until 30 days before the Semester starts in Sept, she will be changing her status from au pair to student during her 30 day travel month (to make sure she completes the program). Very complicated. Trying to help a very overwhelmed mom/friend who is trying to help out a really great young lady who treated her family well for almost two years. Yikes, I can see why you said no to a student visa before.

Dorsi February 11, 2015 at 3:07 am

We had an AP return home to change her Visa last year. My understanding was that it had to be done in the home country, but that may vary by where you come from (she was South American).

When the agency heard this, they told her they wouldn’t pay for a ticket home. I called them and explained that she had not yet changed status and it was possible that it might be rejected — and she was completing the program in good standing. I was ready to get all riled up but they gave in quite quickly.

TexasHM February 10, 2015 at 6:56 pm

She may not care but if she doesn’t return home she will not get a completion from the agency. Meaning if she stays and switches to a student visa then her program will terminate with a change of status (visa type) and not a completion which also means no plane ticket home from the agency. I feel for your friends and I too, wanted to help a young woman who was great to our family but there is only so much they can do. She really can’t go home for the 4-6 weeks in between? Oh wait – I am assuming that won’t work because the family wants her to work for them still outside of the AP program and if that is the case then it’s tricky because of the timing. Also they should know if she files for the student visa and it gets denied then she has to leave the country immediately and cannot return. She also can’t be from a country that has the 2 year return residency requirement and if she leaves she cannot return until 30 days before class starts. So she can either stay and change her status to student and not leaveat all and not get a completion for the AP program or she can complete the AP program and leave anytime during the travel month, return home on the agency’s dime, get an F1 and return 30 days before class starts and get credit for completing the AP program. The latter also helps ensure future APs from her country don’t have issues getting visas (they track completion rates by country and yes – changing to a student visa counts as not returning home even if you worked the whole term, you have to return for it to not count against future arrivals.)

Repeataupair February 11, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I am with APC, and from my experience, in extension, the new families books her airfare.
Concerning flights, it used to be that we could choose any three days and they would book one of them for the flight home, now this is still the case but needs to be M-Th or we can add additional fees I believe to fly the weekend (which sucks honestly as all flights to France are overnight, most families who want to pick us back home would have to take a day off). We also get additional fees if we choose to fly from another city than the one living in in our travel month. The only thing I can give them is that I always had a good hour flight, they seemed to be partnered with Lufthansa back a few years ago, it has changed to United since around 2012/13… Flying from Paris I had with Lufthansa a connection in Frankfurt and with United a direct (to Newark each time).

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