Sunday, January 11, 2015

Guide to boarding a flight

Note - This is like a dummies’ guide to navigate an airport to board a plane. For everyone of you this is completely redundant and boring. Please skip reading this post. I am putting it up cause I promised someone I would do this guide.

In this blog post we will go through boarding a random aircraft (UA049) at Mumbai International Airport (CSIA) to go to Newark.

Any Airport can be divided into the following parts (for passengers):

  1. Terminal
  2. Arrival
  3. Departure
  4. Departure Door
  5. Check-in Zone
  6. Check-in Counter
  7. Security
  8. Immigration
  9. Boarding Gate

Terminal - The Mumbai Airport as of 2015 has only one terminal T2. So there is nothing to worry about going to the wrong terminal anymore. The Taxi driver should take you to T2 and to the “Departure area” if you ask him to take you to the international airport. Departures are generally on the higher floor (so the taxi takes a bridge and drops you off).

Departure Door - In Mumbai, Departure taxi drop-off area has several doors (each door for a set of airline companies). The doors are written on the right side of the bridge as you approach the taxi drop-off area. However all doors lead to the same departure hall so the only advantage in getting off at the right door is – you have to walk less.

For our UA049 flight on the day I took pictures, it was Door 5.

Door at the Departure Drop-off Area

Once you enter from the door, first look for a Television showing “Departures” or “Departing Flights”. The flights are always listed in the ascending order of their scheduled departure time (even if the flight is delayed, its actual scheduled time is used for display).

All Internation Departure Details

Check-In Zone - Here we can see that UA049 which is scheduled to leave at 00:10 is listed along with the Zone where you have to go Check-in and get your boarding pass. The Zone is “J” in the picture.

Locate Flight by following the Departure time

Check-in Counter - Once you go inside the door and go towards the zone, you can see another Television listing the “Counter” for your flight. There are numerous counters in each zone, and you have to go to the right counter to get your boarding pass.

Departure Zone

Counter Details in Departure Zone

At the counter, give your ticket printout and passport, and the attendant should provide you with a boarding pass, an Immigration Form and your passport. The boarding pass will show your seat number and gate number and also your boarding time. Make sure to collect bag tags for all your carry-on baggage. Purses, and pouches are counted as separate carry-on items by the airport security. All your Check-in baggage will be taken away and checked-in to the flight here.

Directions to Immigration and Security Check

Security - After this, go in the general direction of “Immigration” and “Security” boards. In Mumbai you go through Security first followed by Immigration.

International Departures

At security make sure that all your carry-on luggage has the security stamps (stamped by the airport security personnel). Then proceed to Immigration.

Immigration - Here you have to submit the form that you got with your ticket and the officer will stamp your passport and boarding pass. I haven’t taken any pictures of the Security area cause I didn’t wish to cause any false suspicions.

Immigration Entrance

Gate - After you are done with Immigration, there will be Television displays again showing Flights listed in ascending order of their scheduled departure time, followed by the Gates at which they will be departing. This information is also available on the boarding pass. But sometimes the Gate might change after the boarding pass is issued, so these displays are the best source of latest information. They also indicate what is the current status at the Gate.

Flight Gate Details and Status

Our flight UA049 can be seen to be departing at Gate 86A. Follow general board directions to 80-90 Gates.

Signs at the Gate

There after follow directions to Gate 86A. And once you reach there, wait for announcements for the actual boarding to start.

Gate 86A

Bon Voyage. Mumbai Airport is amazingly beautiful and you can spend hours looking at all the local art that is promoted there.

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