02.01.01: Tips for flying internationally

Flight procedures
  1. Have your itinerary, passport, ticket (unless using e­tickets), and possibly a second form of picture ID easily accessible. Find the counter of the airline you are flying with.

  2. When you arrive at the counter of your airline, “check in." You will check your bags and show your passport and tickets (and possibly a second form of picture ID). Airline employees will create boarding passes and give you receipts of the stickers they put on your luggage. Keep those stickers because they are your “proof” in the event that your luggage is dislocated. Verify with the person at the desk that your luggage will go through to the last flight or arrival location. Some flights require you to pick up your luggage and re-­check it when you catch a connecting flight.

  3. After checking in, find your gate number on your boarding pass and follow the signs to your gate. Go through security. Security personnel will ask for your boarding pass and passport (and possibly a second form of ID). If you have a laptop, be prepared to take it out of its bag. Also be prepared to remove shoes, belts, and jackets.  

  4. After security, find your gate number. Be at the gate to board at least 50 minutes before (if not earlier) the departure time. Boarding begins about 35 minutes before departure time and the gate closes 10 minutes before. It’s best to find your gate first and then use the bathroom, buy snacks, etc. 

    If your flight is cancelled, talk to the airline workers at the 
    desk by your gate. They can book you on a different flight. Make sure that you call your program administrator or outreach coordinator if your arrival time to your final destination changes! (This step does not apply if the change does not alter your connecting flight.)

  5. Before you land at your destination, be sure to listen to all announcements. Check your boarding pass (for your connecting flight) to see which gate the next flight is departing from or check airport display screens for changes once you are in the airport. Most airlines have magazines on the airplane that have maps of all their terminals; it might be helpful to look at that ahead of time.  

  6. When you arrive at your final destination, you will need to go through immigration. You will need your passport and visa (stamped in your passport). 

  7. Immigration tips: 
  • Do not use the word “working” when referring to what you will be doing in the country you are entering. This word is often associated with being paid and may not allow you  to enter since you would have the wrong visa to “work."
  • Sometimes the country stamps your passport with a different entry length than the date written on your visa inside your passport. Double check both! It may mean that you will need to renew the visa while on outreach.

When returning to the U.S.
  1. Follow the same process above.

  2. When returning to the U.S., the flight attendants will give you forms to fill out prior to your arrival. Be prepared to answer what kinds of items you purchased on outreach and their value.

  3. You will go through customs when you arrive in the U.S. Customs officials will ask for your passport and possibly a photo ID. Remember, you were serving and volunteering, not working!  They will process your passport/paperwork and say, “Welcome home."

  4. Food products, weapon souvenirs, etc, may be confiscated by customs for greater homeland security. It may depend on what kind of day customs officials are having so be pleasant and courteous.

  5. Enter baggage claim and find your items. Report them missing at the help desk if your luggage does not appear. Special sized luggage/items are picked up at the help desk as well.

  6. Go through baggage claim and meet your family and friends. WELCOME HOME! You made it!!!

Good advice from those who travel
  • Take a water bottle with you, but keep in mind that you will need to empty it whenever you go through security.
  • Never leave bags unattended or with a stranger.
  • Keep your passport, itinerary, and tickets in a safe but easily accessible place.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to remove for security checks.
  • Dress comfortably and limit the amount of jewelry or metallic items (such as a belt) to make security checks easier.  
  • Keep refreshing items such as deodorant, a small tube of toothpaste and toothbrush, hand wipes, wet ones, etc., in your carry-on luggage.
  • Never joke with the security people by saying things like, “Oh yeah, I got my bomb in my small carry-on."  EMM does not pay bail for participants who end up in jail.
  • If possible, take your time. Traveling is exhausting. If you have a few hours of layover, don’t run to the next gate. Stop and eat a light snack. (A Snickers candy bar is good for a burst of energy.)
  • Always double check the departure/arrival screens for changes to times and gates.  
  • If you are unsure, ask!