Hopping on and off a plane for some is like catching a cab or train. For those who travel less frequently it can be a daunting task. However, no matter how many times you’ve travelled it requires proper planning — right from getting to the airport on time till you arrive at your destination and collect your bags.
Travel policies and procedures have globally been altered several times in recent years to help ensure passenger safety. From restrictions on items you can carry in your bags on board to the amount of cash you can carry on your person when leaving or entering a country. Therefore, no matter where you are headed, first and foremost understand the dos and don’ts of the law and ensure that you comply.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when planning a journey by air:
Consider leaving behind items which could be perceived as threatening or may raise suspicion at a screening checkpoint and remember:
For hand luggage
l Knives of any size or nail clippers are not allowed.
l Liquids, including water, are generally not permitted in packages of more than 100ml.
l Children’s formula or food is permissible but water to prepare it may not be permitted.
l Personal hygiene items such as deo cans, roll-ons, toothpaste, hand sanitisers are not always permitted; if they are then only in 100ml or smaller packaging.
l Personal medication can be carried; however, ensure to carry a proper prescription to prove the need.
By following travel guidelines you ease half your worries
l Tin food is not permitted. (Pack in checked-in baggage but be certain of destination regulations).
l Personal computing equipment must always be in hand luggage. Be prepared to switch it on during security checks.
l Always expect having to open bags for inspection.
l To pack efficiently, place smaller items together in a pouch.
l Place liquids in a clear plastic pouch that can easily be scanned.
For checked-in luggage
l Affix a clear identification tag securely (colourful ribbons or some unique identifier also helps).
l Do not carry items for others. If you must then ensure they’re provided unpacked/unwrapped and you pack them yourself.
l Food items must be packed in proper packaging that doesn’t spill.
l Carry only original/genuine CDs to avoid copyright issues in destination countries.
l If carrying spices then ensure that they’re in original packaging; avoid taking open packets. The authorities may potentially open every box, so arrive early to avoid missing your flight due to security checks.
l Lock your bags even if there’s nothing of valuable. You don’t want to be caught with items placed by someone else when the bag has left your charge.
Required for domestic travel in Pakistan
Airline printed ticket
Original credit card with which the ticket was purchased or an authority letter with copy of credit card and CNIC of the owner.
Required for international travel from Pakistan.
Passport with valid visa
Confirmed Airline printed ticket (online check-in is verified at airline counters)
At least two photocopies of a printed visa not affixed in passport (one to be submitted at immigration) NICOP (if as a dual nation you are travelling on foreign passport).
Travel itinerary including hotel bookings where required. Original and photocopy of vaccination cards depending on destination (yellow fever, polio, etc.)
Business travellers should keep a copy of the invitation received from final destination.
Always keep an extra hard copy of travel documents and save a softcopy to an online email account, USB or on cloud servers.
Now that you’ve got all you need, it’s now time to undertake the travel.
Getting to the airport
Before leaving home, call the airline or check the airline’s website to confirm the status of your flight. If your flight has been cancelled, contact the airline directly or your travel agent to reschedule your flight.
If you intend to leave your vehicle for long term parking, then plan to arrive earlier than you normally would.
Plan to arrive for check-in at least one hour before the gates close on domestic flight and a minimum of two hours prior for international flights.
Arriving at the airport
Leave no vehicle or baggage unattended even for a moment Check to ensure that all items have been taken from the vehicle before proceeding to the departure terminal.
At the security checkpoint
Present your ticket and passport or CNIC.
Be prepared to empty pockets of coins, metals, etc.
Remove all metal objects including, belts, jewellery, shoes, etc.
Be prepared to demonstrate the operation of electronic equipment such as laptops, cell phones, etc.
Be patient. Do not make jokes about security. Comply with all security instructions.
Expect increased passenger and baggage security screening.
Wand checks and full-body pat-down searches are common.
At the international departure be prepared for possible checks by either or both customs and anti-narcotics force (ANF). (They have independent jurisdiction and being checked by one doesn’t exempt checking by the other).
At the airline counter Domestic:
Provide ticket and identity documents
Receive boarding passDrop off checked baggage and receive baggage tagsPut paper tags on all hand luggage (includes purses, plastic bags, etc).
Provide travel documents.
Receive boarding pass.
After the baggage is weighed in some airports the bags will have to be dropped off at a separate security counter, check with the airline attendant.
Proceed to immigration counters before heading to the departure lounge.
In the departure lounge
Leave no bag unattended.
Do not ask others to look after your bag or accept to do the same for others.
Maintain a sense of awareness.
Keep the boarding pass and identification available.
Pay close attention to announcements.
Board the aircraft as directed by gate agents.
Do not wait until the last minute to board the aircraft.
Some airlines, depending on cabin luggage situation, may take your hand luggage just before you board to place in the cargo hold. Ensure you take out your valuables, documents medication and carry in your hand.
Onboard the aircraft
Listen to and follow crew instructions at all times.
Keep hand carry luggage, especially travel documents, secured at all times.
Do not lose baggage tags as you may be required to present them in the arrivals hall.
Be mindful of what you say and to whom; even something you may say as a joke could result in a security situation for you and others.
What you read and watch must be in keeping with the environment. Remember your fellow passenger may not subscribe to your values and could take offence resulting in an awkward situation.
If you are disturbed by the actions of a fellow passenger report it to the cabin crew. Avoid direct interaction and you’ll have a better journey.
Many airlines have security personnel among the passengers who are commonly known as SkyGuards. Therefore always raise a security issue to a cabin crew in private and they’ll be able to provide assistance.
Upon arrival at your destination
If travelling within Pakistan then proceed directly to the baggage carousel and collect your bags. Be prepared to present your baggage claim tags to an airline agent.
If travelling internationally, proceed to immigration counters and there after collect your bags from the baggage carousel.
Check and report any signs of damage/missing baggage immediately to the airline representative.
If you have transport waiting for you outside, then proceed directly.
If you need to take a cab or train, go to an authorised agent at a counter.
Do not talk to persons who are not in uniform and offer you transport.
Currency exchange should be made inside the arrivals hall or use an ATM card to withdraw sufficient local currency to cover travel to your hotel or home.
Air travel needs preparation and a level of alertness that you don’t normally require while using other travel means. Laws are changing; what was legal today could be illegal by the time your flight lands. Always read up and be sure you have all you need even if you travel regularly.