One of the most complex tickets sale programs in the world of sports is starting February 11. CoSport, the official reseller in the United States for the U.S. allocation of 2014 Winter Olympic tickets, is beginning to sell tickets to the American public. Millions of fans would like to see America’s best winter sports athletes compete with top athletes from around the world.
But Americans need tourist visas to visit Russia and they need proof of round trip transportation to and from Russia before they can get a visa. Flights do no open for advance sale and reservations until eleven months before the date of travel. So the first day this year Americans can reserve a flight returning from Russia after the Winter Olympics conclude next year is March 24. Then travelers will need about a month to get a tourist visa, if they already have their U.S. Passport. The U.S. Passport needs to be valid through August of 2014 for Winter Olympics travel, so many Americans will need to get a new passport first. Americans also need an official invitation letter (also referred to as "Visa Support") from an authorized Russian agency, showing reference and confirmation number for the visa. So very few Americans will know whether they will be able to travel to Russia to see the 2014 Winter Olympics until April of this year.
Given the realities for Americans planning to travel to Russia, CoSport has published a helpful advisory on its ticket sales web site “All guests must make their own arrangements for travel to/from the Host City, including obtaining all necessary travel documents.” CoSport is making that a little easier, by offering two to five night hotel and ticket packages.
Athletes and Olympic officials who have visited Sochi already for test events report the scenic area has good accommodations and spectacular scenery. But very few say that it is easy to get to. There is a daily flight from Istanbul, Turkey, candidate city to host the 2020 Olympics. Almost all other flight connections require changing planes in Moscow, which often experiences delays during winter snowstorms. So travelers are well advised to schedule arrival at least one day before their first ticketed event in Sochi. KLM Dutch Airlines has codeshare flights with Aeroflot Russian Airlines that get Americans to Sochi in about 15 to 20 hours. Coach class tickets cost about the same as travel to Milan or Munich -- around $1,000 roundtrip from New York.