Passports are best carried in your shirt pocket provided it
is deep enough and they won’t fall out. If that’s not feasible,
keep the ticket and passport in a zippable or sealable handbag,
so that they can be quickly produced on demand and also checked
by yourself from time to time in transit. Never keep the handbag containing passport and tickets away
from you or in the overhead compartment.
Carry a copy of passport in the handbag, in a separate folder than the passport.
Carry a piece of paper containing following details from both
the passports. These details are required to fill up forms
while boarding and alighting the plane: Passport number, place
of issue, date of issue, name exactly as written on passport,
flight number and airline, your address in US.
Passport thefts are not uncommon, especially in these times.
So do not give out the passport to any non-uniformed, unauthorized
person; rather, not to anybody other than the person
at the ticketing counter or at the immigration checking desk. Note: Try not to look like a stranger or feel
overwhelmed by the novelty of airline travel experience. Since
those would be their best targets.
All international travelers are expected to report at the
airport at least three hours before the flight time. Considering
the rush at the airports during this time of year (sometimes
the queues are very long), you probably want to reach their
at least four hours before the flight time.
It is a good idea to keep some dollar currency with you.
Do not forget to call me from Amsterdam [or stopover] using
the calling card.
Security guards, attendants and information desks are always
available on all airports. Feel free to approach them in case
you have a question.
There are five [or X number of] pages in your ticket. Each
of the first four pages is a ticket for one ‘leg’ of your
journey. As you know there are four parts of your entire to-and-fro
journey (Mumbai-to-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-to-Minneapolis and
so on). The last page is your receipt.
Retain the stubs of all your tickets as well as the boarding
passes with you for records. Do not throw them away.
In general, the tasks would need to be carried out in order
they are listed here. But sometimes the authorities may ask
you to do them out of order.
Carry the following documents, sent you for visa, approval
Note: Keep these documents in the handbag in a folder separate from the one containing passport and tickets. Sometimes the
immigration checking officer may ask for the H1B petition while
entering in the US.
of sponsorship letter.
of my residence (the utilities bill).
Once inside the Aircraft:
The seats inside the plane are reclinable. It also has switches
for a reading light and for calling the attendant in case
you need something.
Always make sure you have been given a vegetarian meal. If
you are served a non-vegetarian meal by mistake, insist that
you asked for a ‘Asian vegetarian’ meal. If they don’t agree,
show them the remarks on your boarding pass/tickets to that
During Takeoff and Landing:
You are required to keep the seats in upright position during
take-off and landing. There are only two places where you
are allowed to keep your handbag during take-off and landing,
either on your lap (preferrable) or under the seat next to
Ensuring that you are served a vegetarian meal could be a
painful experience sometimes and you have to fight for it.
* Last but not the least, do not get overly friendly or get too close to any stranger or fellow passenger no matter how nice they sound
and no matter whether they are Indian, Maharashtrian or not.
Be with the crowd and follow others, but do not reveal information
about yourself. This is important.
in Mumbai [Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad
or other Indian International airport]
may be asked to produce airline tickets right when you enter
the interior of airport for security purposes.
· Security Screening: Approach the ticketing
counter once you enter the airport’s interior. At this time,
your lugguage may be scanned for security. In fact, while
on the airport you may be stopped multiple times for security
screening. But it will definitely take place at least two
times; before you approach the ticketing counter and right
before boarding the plane (near the ‘gate’). They will scan
your lugguage with an X-ray machine and scan you with a metal
detector. Occasionally, you may be asked to open the bags
and reveal the contents.
· Lugguage Check-in and Borading Pass: Once
you complete the initial security screening, approach the
ticketing counter for KLM Northwest. It will be sky-blue colored
(KLM gates) or red colored (Northwest gates). Show them your
tickets and passports. Upon review, they will ask you two
formal security questions for records:
a. Have you packed your bags yourself and been in control
of them?: Say, Yes.
b. Has anyone given you anything to carry on board with you?:
(The verbage could differ but this is the intent.)
lugguage will be weighed and checked in. They will issue what
is called as ‘baggage claim checks’ as a receipt for checked
in pieces of lugguage. This is the only document we have in
case something goes wrong with the lugguage while in transit.
Claim checks are small in size and are attached to the boarding
pass (or its folder). You receive one claim check per piece
of baggage checked in.
will tear off tickets for the entire inbound journey (Mumbai-to-Amsterdam
and Amsterdam-to-Minneapolis), return the ticket/passport
and issue two boarding passes to each of you, one for Mumbai-to-Amsterdam
and one for Amsterdam-to-Minneapolis.
them what gate number you will board the flight at and whether
the flight is on time. The gate number is also written on
your boarding pass. Also note your seat number on the boarding
boarding pass will also contains remarks indicating your meal
preference and seat preference. Make sure it indicates ‘Asian
Vegetarian’ (which is different from other categories of ‘Vegetarian’)
and window seat (on one ticket), and seat numbers are consecutive.
If in doubt, have the person at the counter explain the remarks
want to make sure that you have following four things with
you before you leave the counter: Passport, tickets (remaining
portion), boarding passes with baggage claim checks attached
· Immigration Checking: Proceed to
the Immigration Checking desks. On the way, you will be given
a form known as Embarkation Record to fill up. If not, ask
any uniformed airport attendant for this form. It asks for
your passport details and other personal/journey details.
Submit the form and passport to the police officer at the
immigration checking desk. Passport will be stamped and given
back to you.
· Customs Clearance: Approach the
Customs Clearance desk thereafter. Customs personnel will
ask you some routine questions about what you are carrying
with you. Tell them you are going for touring and there is
nothing of value with you. They may stamp your passport once
again and let you proceed.
Sometimes, the customs person, or even some other uniformed
or non-uniformed person on the airport, might try to extract
some money by illegal means. Do not give him any.
· Waiting in the Gate Area and Boarding the
Plane: Then you head to the gate area with gate number
assigned to your flight. The gate area opens a little late
sometimes in which case you can wait in its vicinity in the
lobby outside. The lobby also has what is called as “duty-free
shops” and there are a couple of places to eat.
entering the gate, you are thoroughly screened for security
once again, as explained above. You are not allowed to leave
the gate area once you enter it. There are toilets and water
tap in the gate area.
will be made when it is time to board. First class passengers
are called first followed by your coach class. Passengers
are called in groups of rows. Once your row group containing
your row is called, you can approach the door of the walkway
that connects the gate area with the plane. It is important
to get inside sooner than later to claim in the overhead compartment
for your second handbag, if any.
attendant at the door will take your boarding pass, tear it
in half and give you back the stub. Take the walkway, enter
the plane, find your seats and keep the ‘second’ handbag in
the overhead compartment. Again, do not ever put away the
first handbag containing passport and tickets in the overhead
compartment. You can put it under the seat next to you or
in your lap.
Note: Additional inputs may be needed for travellers connecting
to international flights from other cities like Ahmedabad,
Bangalore, Baroda, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Delhi,
Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Chennai, Madurai, Nagpur, Pune,
Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayawada, Vishakapatnam, Belgaum, Bhubaneshwar
[list is not exhaustive..]
you are all settled, sit back and enjoy the journey!
you get down and enter the airport, the airline person at
the gate will give you the gate number of the connecting flight.
Gate number will also be displayed on the monitors hung throughout
the airport, say, two hours before the flight timing.
not, you can easily find information desk for KLM/Northwest
on the airport. Show them your ticket or give them your flight
number and they will tell you the gate number.
The gate number can change while you are waiting for the next
flight since generally the duration between the two connecting
flights is sizeable. Check the gate number two hours before
the flight again.
coffee shops and duty-free goods shops are located on the
you alight the plane, have information on the next flight
and you are settled down, call me using a payphone using calling
instructions on the separate sheet. The gate area will open
at least two hours before the flight time. It’s safer to wait
inside. When you are asked to enter the plane, similar security
screening will be performed. They will ask for your second
boarding pass (one that was issued in Mumbai). If it wasn’t
issued in Mumbai, they will ask for the ticket and issue a
boarding pass and let you in.
· Immigration Checking:
will be asked to fill up a form while in the plane towards
the end of the journey. It is known as ‘disembarkation record’.
Yours will be a white-colored card (disregard the green-colored
card if given to you by the flight attendant in error). You
will be required to furnish details like passport number,
passport issue date and flight details. Other than that it
will contain general questions about your personal credentials
(whether you committed felony, whether you have a history
of some highly contageous diseases and so on). Say ‘no’ to
all those questions. You will probably be asked to fill up
another card for customs. Say you have no customs-worthy goods
to reveal (claim the total value to be $0).
you leave the plane, signs will point you to the immigration
checking area. Stop in one of the lines designated for aliens/visitors
(other lines are assigned to US citizens). Upon request, produce
your passport and the disembarkation card. The immigration
officer will verify the documents and may ask you some questions.
on his mood say, “I have a request” and tell him you are here
to visit your son and travel in the US, have a plan of staying
in for a minimum of “two months”, and you also have a return
ticket. If asked what travel plans in particular, tell them
you are going to visit Niagara, New York, Chicago and California.
new INS (US govt. agency that deals with visas and immigration)
guidelines, they might approve of only one-month’s stay unless
convinced to do otherwise; so it is important to clarify your
intention to stay in US for at least two months.)
for your entry is entirely in the hands of this officer so,
whatever happens do not argue with him or irritate him.
In case of any problems, make them a request and call me.
If you can’t call, give them my details and have them contact
· Baggage Claim:
you will approach the baggage claim area where conveyor belts
are located (they are called ‘carousels’). Look around or
ask around to find the right carousel for your airline and
your flight number. Take a trolly (called ‘cart’) to carry
your lugguage if required. Collect the lugguage and when in
doubt match the numbers on your baggage claim checks with
those on the paper strip attached to the bags.
will be a counter located nearby to administer the baggage
claims and issues. If you can’t find your bags, approach the
counter to get things resolved.
· Customs Checking:
might ask you some questions regarding contents of your baggage.
Tell them you do not have any “unprocessed” food items such
as fruits and vegetables, and you do not have anything of
value (anything that is dutiable).
is the last stop. After this, proceed to the exit. I will
be waiting for you near the exit. If you can’t find me, find
a payphone and call me on my mobile number using the phone
some cash in the house and some cash with you when we are
on the road.
Emergency telephone number for police, fire and ambulance:
(If the police makes a trip and finds that it is not a real
emergency, we need to pay a fine. So we need to make sure
that it is a genuine emergency before we call.)
(Dial this number for free from any phone available)
Dial this phone company’s number first:
Enter this code:
Then enter the phone number you wish to dial. As usual dial
1 before any long distance number.
Local numbers are 7 digit-wide and long distance numbers are
Dial 1 before any long distance number.
Many times you are prompted to enter a digit on phone’s key
pad to connect to required extension etc.. Phones in US are
called ‘touch-tone’ phones.
Home phone number +1----
Mobile phone number: +1----
Home address: ----
Friend 1: +1----, +1----
Friend 2: +1----, +1----
smoke in the kitchen will lead to triggering the ‘smoke alarm’.
If it continues for long, it will trigger the fire alarm in
the apartment building and police will be called automatically.
To stop the smoke alarm:
a. Wave piece of cloth or cardboard around the device.
b. Start the kitchen exhaust located right over the cooking
Insurance is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind
before international travel. Hundreds of thousands of students
and businessmen and individuals from all corners of the globe
-- USA, UK, Europe, America, Canada, Asia, India, Australia,
travel abroad to foreign countries for short visits: to attend
business meetings, seminars, conventions. Many also travel
for tourism or to visit relatives or friends. The average
cost of even a simple hospital stay in the US can run into
thousands of dollars. Short-term visitors, those on businesses
or visiting friends or family, are especially vulnerable since
they can be lulled into a false sense of security by presuming
that their regular medical policies provided by employers
in India (or other native lands), will cover them. That is
not true since most insurers of regular policies explicitly
exclude foreign travel. Even students coming to the US to
study may find it intriguing that although universities may
provide plans that cover them after they register as full-time
students, they may not be covered when school is not in session.
Check out our Travel
Insurance section. In this page, you will find
a number of insurance providers, many of who also service
clients online. Please feel free to contact them directly.
Make sure you use 1 for every phone number for domestic dialing
Basically, do not assume familiarity with the system in US.