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Old 08-04-2009, 11:42 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,400 posts, read 4,618,577 times
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Default Airline do's and donts. Questions from a 1st time overseas traveler.

I will be traveling alone to Japan in September. Its only the 2nd timeIve never set foot out of the Southeast (Minus Texas for a week in high school, and Pennsylvania when I was 10, which I dont remember well at all), much less the United States, and Im both excited and scared at the same time. Im hoping ya'll will help me by answering a few questions (any question answered or imput given would be greatly appreciated)

1. Can anyone recommend an airline for me? Any airlines I should absolutely avoid flying with?

2. When I change planes ( Most likely in Chicago), will I have to go through the baggage collection/checking process again?

3. Whats the most important thing to remember so I dont get totally lost in the airport?

4. Am I allowed a pen/pencil on my flight so I can do some schoolwork? (I'll be missing a few classes to make this trip, and dont want to fall behind. Its an 18 hour flight so..yeah. lol)

5 What papers should I have on me at all times (besides passport)?

6. Is my purse (just a average-size purse, nothing huge) considered carry-on luggage? If so, do they charge me extra for it now, even if its light?

Sorry for all the questions...so much planning to do and Ive never done this before. He's in the Navy so its all up to me to plan the getting-there part. Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:16 AM
 
Location: Southern England.
10,039 posts, read 5,667,346 times
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This is a British Airways help page.

You will probably find similar sites for the US carriers.

British Airways - Travel preparation

Just one pice of advice- don't be afraid to ask officials, or indeed the public, for help if you are not sure. We've all had to do things for the first time.

Also imagine, heaven forbid, that your checked in luggage went missing. Have one or two absolute essentials in your hand luggage. Also if you have any medication keep that with you.

Oh- the most important thing- Enjoy yourself!
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:00 AM
 
13,959 posts, read 11,358,177 times
Reputation: 5172
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colddiamond102 View Post
I will be traveling alone to Japan in September. Its only the 2nd timeIve never set foot out of the Southeast (Minus Texas for a week in high school, and Pennsylvania when I was 10, which I dont remember well at all), much less the United States, and Im both excited and scared at the same time. Im hoping ya'll will help me by answering a few questions (any question answered or imput given would be greatly appreciated)

1. Can anyone recommend an airline for me? Any airlines I should absolutely avoid flying with?

2. When I change planes ( Most likely in Chicago), will I have to go through the baggage collection/checking process again?

3. Whats the most important thing to remember so I dont get totally lost in the airport?

4. Am I allowed a pen/pencil on my flight so I can do some schoolwork? (I'll be missing a few classes to make this trip, and dont want to fall behind. Its an 18 hour flight so..yeah. lol)

5 What papers should I have on me at all times (besides passport)?

6. Is my purse (just a average-size purse, nothing huge) considered carry-on luggage? If so, do they charge me extra for it now, even if its light?

Sorry for all the questions...so much planning to do and Ive never done this before. He's in the Navy so its all up to me to plan the getting-there part. Any help is much appreciated!
Normally when changing airplanes on the same airline you don't have to collect your luggage as it can be checked through towards your final destination. (Sometimes it can be checked through even if you are flying 2 different airlines.)
Of course, you can take pens/pencils and paper to do work during the flight.
You should always keep your important papers (besides your passport) with you at all time as well your money, credit cards, etc.
Usually as a woman if your purse is not oversized it is not considered your carry-on luggage meaning you can take a regular carry-on suitcase besides your purse with you on the aircraft without being charged for it.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:37 AM
 
Location: The Big D
14,874 posts, read 21,752,901 times
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1. Can anyone recommend an airline for me? Any airlines I should absolutely avoid flying with?

Look on sites like Expedia, Travelocity, etc and see what airlines seem to have the best times and fares. Make note of those fares on the airlines and THEN go to the airlines site and check their fares. If you can book it on the airlines own site that is better and most of the time now the fares are the same. Just using one of the discounts first to see what airlines to zoom in on is easy.

2. When I change planes ( Most likely in Chicago), will I have to go through the baggage collection/checking process again?

No, you will not need to reclaim your bags in your layover city here state side. Now, when coming back thru you will. If you can make it a layover in another country then you won't have to. But since you might change planes to come back home here in the states you would. This is because the flight you would get on in say Chicago is now a "domestic" flight. When booking this return flight allow PLENTY of time to claim your luggage, go thru customs, recheck your baggage, go back thru security, use the restroom, grab a bite to eat and then get to board your final leg of the journey home. Cut this connection too close and you might miss your flight home.

3. Whats the most important thing to remember so I dont get totally lost in the airport?

Know what terminal and gate your flights are going out of and into. Just read the signs and follow them. If you have late flights be aware that most food vendors in the airports close early, typically by 9pm. You CAN pack dry foods w/ you to carry-on like crackers, pop-tarts, dry cerals, chips, cookies, etc. Just no liquid foods or drinks can be brought thru security from home.

4. Am I allowed a pen/pencil on my flight so I can do some schoolwork? (I'll be missing a few classes to make this trip, and dont want to fall behind. Its an 18 hour flight so..yeah. lol)

Yes, you can take pens and pencils. See above as well about food items. You might want to take some light snacks with you from home. I've seen plenty of kids and college aged people doing homework on planes.

5 What papers should I have on me at all times (besides passport)?

Your drivers license as well. Make copies of your passport (the pages where your picture is located and passport number). Take 2 copies with you by putting one in your carry-on and one in your checked luggage in a safe spot. Leave a couple of copies at home for someone to get ahold of for you if you should need them to help you state side to get yours replaced if it is lost or stolen. By keeping a couple of copies in different places it will make it easier to get done. Go ahead and make a copy of your drivers license just in case.

6. Is my purse (just a average-size purse, nothing huge) considered carry-on luggage? If so, do they charge me extra for it now, even if its light?

Most don't even count it as long as it is not the size of a regular piece of luggage. It is supposed to be counted as one but usually my purse would fit into one of my other "personal pieces" if someone said anything. I'm typically carrying two other small pieces when on vacation w/ the family as I'm the "family pack mule" along w/ my purse and never had a problem. Then again the kids and husband all only have 1 piece they are carrying. A good backpack works well to keep the things you want super handy close by and under the seat in front of you and comes in handy while traveling instead of a purse while out sightseeing. Your purse and backpack both should be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Then in your other carry-on that you will put in the overhead can have a change of clothes or 2, medications that you don't need often, the bulk of your personal hygiene items that fit the "under 3 oz" rule and any other things you might NEED when you get to Japan and can't afford to lose or replace when you get there. Your backpack can have your school work and some snacks in it and any meds that you might need while on the plane so they are easier to get to.

Keep your passport close and safe. Don't leave it lying anywhere. Keep it in a zipped up pocket in your purse or backpack except when you need it. At the airport when you first check-in they will need your passport. After that put it away safely and only use your drivers license to go thru security this way your not bothered with fumbling w/ it while going thru security and reclaiming all of your belongings and such on the other side.

You have to take your shoes off to go thru security. For that don't wear shoes that are cumbersome to get off and on. You will see a lot of people now in easy on/off shoes in airports.

HAVE FUN!
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:19 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,400 posts, read 4,618,577 times
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Thank you all!
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:26 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,082 posts, read 6,138,298 times
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Quote:
1. Can anyone recommend an airline for me? Any airlines I should absolutely avoid flying with?
Japanese airlines are top-notch with great service and comfort. JAL and ANA are both good. EVA is a great quality Taiwanese carrier, but they might not fly the routes you're on. American carriers tend to have older planes and lower levels of service. NW/DELTA and United are the most common carriers to Tokyo, I believe.

If you just want to fly cheap, do as the other poster suggested. For international flights, Cheap Hotels - Search for Hotel Reservations, Deals & Rooms - Wego.com tends to have the most accurate lowest fares, but do be sure to check the airline's individual sites after doing a general search. Most US-based search engines won't work if you are booking a one-way flight originating outside the US. Wego doesn't have that problem.

Quote:
2. When I change planes ( Most likely in Chicago), will I have to go through the baggage collection/checking process again?
Probably. You are on a domestic flight first and then an international flight. You may have to collect your bags and check-in again in Chicago. You will almost certainly have to process out through customs in Chicago. Keep your passport handy at all times and be careful not to leave it behind anywhere.

Keep in mind that Japan's visa requirements may require you to have a return ticket if you go on the visa-waiver program extended to US citizens. Check in advance and be sure to have a printed copy of your return ticket (or a itinerary showing your return ticket number) to show to the ticketing agent in Chicago or they may give you a boarding pass.

You go out (of the Japan airport) through the aisle marked "Nothing To Declare" unless you're carrying firearms, lots of tobacco or alcohol.

Quote:
3. Whats the most important thing to remember so I dont get totally lost in the airport?
Follow the crowd.

Look up. That's where the signs are. Departures is the place you go to get your boarding pass. Immigration is where you head after arriving in Japan.

Quote:
4. Am I allowed a pen/pencil on my flight so I can do some schoolwork? (I'll be missing a few classes to make this trip, and dont want to fall behind. Its an 18 hour flight so..yeah. lol)
Yes.

Quote:
5 What papers should I have on me at all times (besides passport)?
Boarding Pass. Itinerary. Return ticket printout. Driver's liscense doesn't hurt as a second form of ID. Address where you will stay in Japan. Landing Card (Stewards will walk through the cabin asking people if they are staying in Japan. If you wave at them, they'll give you a card to fill out that you then present to the border guard at the Japan airport immigration control along with your boarding pass and passport.

Quote:
6. Is my purse (just a average-size purse, nothing huge) considered carry-on luggage? If so, do they charge me extra for it now, even if its light?
No. It's a "personal item". If the airline doesn't charge for that (and I can't think of any that do), you won't be charged.

Another travel tip:

Check your credit card and ATM card to see if they levy any fees on transactions in foreign currencies. Credit cards will work in Japan, but they will probably charge you an extra 5-10% for charges in Yen. A better bet is to pay cash everywhere and get that cash using an ATM card in local Japanese ATM's. The PLUS network gives you good exchange rates, so see if your bank uses PLUS and ask them if they charge any extra fees. There is a unavoidable 1% VISA conversion fee on all ATM transactions in foreign currencies, but the rates beat traveller's cheques or credit cards by a mile in most cases.

If your bank charges an extra % or dollar amount on foreign currency withdrawls, open an account in a bank that doesn't. That's a total ripoff. Small local banks tend to NOT charge. The most widespread international ATM networks are CIRRUS and PLUS so try to carry an ATM card with those on it.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:40 AM
 
Location: The Big D
14,874 posts, read 21,752,901 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Probably. You are on a domestic flight first and then an international flight. You may have to collect your bags and check-in again in Chicago. You will almost certainly have to process out through customs in Chicago. Keep your passport handy at all times and be careful not to leave it behind anywhere.
Going out from here to Japan (or any other country) you do NOT have to claim your bags when one changes planes in Chicago/NYC or anywhere else in the U.S. You check them all the way thru at your origination airport. It is when coming back on the RETURN flight that one will have to claim their bags and go thru customs on the layover. Then recheck them.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:44 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,400 posts, read 4,618,577 times
Reputation: 2712
[quote=sponger42;10123282]Japanese airlines are top-notch with great service and comfort. JAL and ANA are both good. EVA is a great quality Taiwanese carrier, but they might not fly the routes you're on. American carriers tend to have older planes and lower levels of service. NW/DELTA and United are the most common carriers to Tokyo, I believe.

If you just want to fly cheap, do as the other poster suggested. For international flights, Cheap Hotels - Search for Hotel Reservations, Deals & Rooms - Wego.com tends to have the most accurate lowest fares, but do be sure to check the airline's individual sites after doing a general search. Most US-based search engines won't work if you are booking a one-way flight originating outside the US. Wego doesn't have that problem.



Probably. You are on a domestic flight first and then an international flight. You may have to collect your bags and check-in again in Chicago. You will almost certainly have to process out through customs in Chicago. Keep your passport handy at all times and be careful not to leave it behind anywhere.

Keep in mind that Japan's visa requirements may require you to have a return ticket if you go on the visa-waiver program extended to US citizens. Check in advance and be sure to have a printed copy of your return ticket (or a itinerary showing your return ticket number) to show to the ticketing agent in Chicago or they may give you a boarding pass.

You go out (of the Japan airport) through the aisle marked "Nothing To Declare" unless you're carrying firearms, lots of tobacco or alcohol.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Follow the crowd.

Look up. That's where the signs are. Departures is the place you go to get your boarding pass. Immigration is where you head after arriving in Japan..
Even if Im just going for a week??
And another stupid question...what exactly is an itenerary? Is it a list of places you plan to visit??
If so, havent a clue about that either. Im going for one reason and one reason only, and thats to see my Sailor. Ive no tourist attractions planned at all.



Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Boarding Pass. Itinerary. Return ticket printout. Driver's liscense doesn't hurt as a second form of ID. Address where you will stay in Japan. Landing Card (Stewards will walk through the cabin asking people if they are staying in Japan. If you wave at them, they'll give you a card to fill out that you then present to the border guard at the Japan airport immigration control along with your boarding pass and passport. .
I dont know where I'll be staying until I get there. Some hotel probably, but I dont know the name or location.
Boarding pass is what they give you before you get on the plane, correct?



Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
If your bank charges an extra % or dollar amount on foreign currency withdrawls, open an account in a bank that doesn't. That's a total ripoff. Small local banks tend to NOT charge. The most widespread international ATM networks are CIRRUS and PLUS so try to carry an ATM card with those on it .
Already got one that does..

Thanks for all of the information!
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Orlando
7,823 posts, read 6,495,635 times
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an airplane is not the place to talk about the time you blew up the chemistry lab..... bad topic.

Don't buy the pilot for a preflight drink

Don't have the bean special at the local Mexican restaurant before you go

If you are skinny you will make the other 2 smile when you take the center seat

Don't mention packing a 9 MM in your suitcase

when they sniff you it isn't for BO but gunpowder

Don't get on the plane if you hear Whooops come from the cockpit as you are loading
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:01 AM
 
Location: The Big D
14,874 posts, read 21,752,901 times
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[quote=Colddiamond102;10123685And another stupid question...what exactly is an itenerary? Is it a list of places you plan to visit??
If so, havent a clue about that either. Im going for one reason and one reason only, and thats to see my Sailor. Ive no tourist attractions planned at all.





I dont know where I'll be staying until I get there. Some hotel probably, but I dont know the name or location.
Boarding pass is what they give you before you get on the plane, correct?
[/QUOTE]


Yes, it is a list of things you will do. Mostly they want to know where you will be and if the trip is "business" or "pleasure". Yours will be a "pleasure" trip. All you will need to put down is the name of a hotel (just pick one) and the city it is in and your only there for "pleasure". It's not like they are going to go knocking on the doors of hotels verifying you are staying in the hotel you wrote down. If they ask you in customs once they see your entry slip you filled out on the plane just tell them, "My boyfriend/fiance/husband is here on work and I had the chance to come over and visit him". They might ask where he works then you can tell them he is "in the U.S. Navy" and has some leave time for you two to get some private time together. I doubt they will pry much more than that and I'd be surprised if they even asked that much. Just don't act all evasive and like you have something to hide. Should be fine.

The boarding pass is what the airline gives you with your seat assignment. Once you check-in and check your luggage and this is when you will get your passport checked as well they will issue you your boarding pass. HOWEVER, as soon as you can go ahead and assign your seat. You can do this online or just call the airlines and you might be able to do it when you book your flight. After you have checked-in and all then head to security. You will NOT need your passport as your drivers license will work as your ID at this point so you can put your passport in a safe place in your CARRY-ON bag, purse or backpack (JUST KEEP IT ON YOU AND DO NOT CHECK IT WITH YOUR OTHER LUGGAGE). The TSA agent at the beginning of the line for security will check your boarding pass and ID (drivers license or passport) and then you can put those all away. You will take off your shoes and have all of your 3 oz or smaller of liquids in a ziploc pulled out of your carry-on and go thru the metal detectors sans your shoes. You won't need your boarding pass again until you board the plane. I've never had to show my boarding pass to a customs agent once I've landed nor have I needed to show my return ticket. The date of your return is usually on the form you filled out. As long as it is not for a year out or anything, no biggie usually.
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