Tips for a smooth flying
During my recent one year trip through South East Asia and China I was flying a lot. Here are my advises to you how to do it smoothly and almost stress free.
Whenever possible fly with a low cost carrier. I had good experiences with Air Berlin to fly from Zurich to Bangkok and with Air Asia to fly within Asia. Make sure to choose the web check in option if available.
Check the flight details online 24 hours before departure. You usually don't have to call a hotline to confirm that you will fly, but the flight might be two hours earlier or later and it's good to know that before.
Going to the right airport
Make sure you go to the right airport and to the right terminal. Cities like Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur have different airports. Being at the wrong airport means a delay of half an hour to an hour. Being at the wrong terminal means a delay of 15 to 30 minutes. Please visit the link collection of dontworryjusttravel.com for more information.
Check in – Web check in
In countries well prepared for individual tourists, e.g. Vietnam or Thailand, choose the web check in option if available. Then you can just proceed to the baggage drop off. Sometimes you can save 40 minutes of waiting time like that, but you need to be prepared a little better.
You have to print out the boarding pass about one or two days before departure. In individual tourist friendly countries you find print shops almost everywhere and have no problem printing out your boarding pass. In countries with less individual tourists (but a lot of group tours) like China and Taiwan I sometimes had trouble finding a print shop.
The biggest nightmare was finding a print shop in Hualien, Taiwan. One photo shop in Hualien had a computer with printer, but refused to do it, because they didn't have the service on the price list. I ended up finding a shop in the university area. This is a good trick. University campuses always have a copy/print shop.
Check in – Luggage weight
Low cost carriers usually insist that your luggage has just the allowed weight. Most carriers usually grant you 20 kilos for the travel luggage and 7 kilos for the hand luggage. To and from Canada/USA it is a little bit more. More and more carriers charge extra for the travel luggage, e.g. you pay extra for every five kilos or for every extra piece of luggage and so on.
So if you know the weight of your luggage and it is ok, proceed to check in.
If you don't know the weight of your luggage and think it might be too much, arrive earlier and proceed to an empty check in booth (usually available). Weigh your travel and hand luggage there. If you have too much weight, throw things away or pay extra, up to you.
If you know you will have too much much luggage weight buy extra weight when you buy your ticket. It usually is 20 to 50% cheaper than at the airport check in.
What you should not do, is proceed to check in, have too much weight in your travel luggage, take some stuff out and put it into the hand luggage in front of the staff. Because then they will want to weigh your hand luggage too, it will be too heavy and you will end up paying extra for your travel and hand luggage. What you can do as well – and I did this at the beginning of my one year trip – is to say sorry, walk away, sort your stuff out, throw away unnecessary things and start all over.
Usually you can get away with a hand luggage a bit too heavy if you arrive at the check in booth well prepared and your travel luggage has the correct weight. But don't count on it as more and more carriers tell you to weigh your hand luggage at check in to see if you are compliant.
Always go there with a coat, jacket or a small travel purse. Before you enter the area or on the way to it put your belongings into the pockets with zipper of your coat or purse. Like this they won't fall out and disappear. If your hand luggage has a lock bring it there unlocked. If you have a laptop take it out of the bag unasked because they will want you to do that anyway.
All these measures increase the chance of a non stressful control. Nothing will fall out of your pockets when you empty them right at the security. You can just open the hand luggage if asked and you can walk away from the mess and put your belongings back into your pockets at a place that is not so crowded.
Boarding lounge/Items for the flight
Relax a while if necessary, then take out the small things you will need in the plane:
Hotel address of your final destination
A good book
Earplugs (for long distance)
Blindfold (for long distance)
Inflatable pillow (for long distance)
If you have these things ready you won't have to look for them during the flight. See below.
Don't jump up to be the first that can enter the plane unless you like that. Just stay seated relaxed and wait until the queue has diminished a little. Despite entering the plan in the last third of the crowd I always easily found a space for my hand luggage.
I noticed that boarding usually starts 15 minutes after the official boarding-time and then the process takes at least 10 minutes so why be there too early?
During the flight
Enjoy the flight. And when the stewardess gives you the arrival card to fill out before landing you won't have to jump up and search through your hand luggage, because you have all the information ready. Besides your name, birthday, birthplace the state you visit usually wants to know:
Your passport number
your visa number if you need one for the country
Your flight number - You can leave the flight number for departure blank and fill it out later
Address during your stay – Just fill in the place you stay for the first night. If you don't know that yet, just fill in the name of any valid hotel at your destination. Nobody checks that anyway but if you leave it blank, immigration will be refused or delayed (saw that once at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok). So if you don't fit the standard scheme just lie a little, works fine!
While the other passengers (that don't know this website yet) still go through all their stuff to find all the information you filled it out already and enjoy the rest of your flight.
The way to your hotel
It pays out to check the details of your arrival airport. I have seen people make mistakes I was warned because I checked the information beforehand on a travel site. Usually you have to be careful to find the official taxi lane. And you should ignore the travel agents after the exit, because they sell you overpriced services unless you like limo service of course.
Please visit the link collection of dontworryjusttravel.com for more information.
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