Here is a step by step guide to making life easy traversing the path through International Airports.
1.Go to the "Departures" level of the airport and check-in your bags and receive your boarding pass and baggage tickets. If you are taking two or more planes, make sure your bags are checked through to your final destination.
2. Line up and go through "Security". You will have to take your computer and phone out of your carry-on bags for inspection.
3. Now pass through "Immigration" (sometimes called Border Control or Border Security) and show your passport.
4. You are now at "Duty-free". You can shop but remember you will need to carry whatever you buy and the country you are going to will have limits on how much you can bring in.
5. Go to your "Boarding Gate" at least 45 minutes before departure time. You can check which Gate you are departing from on the boards hanging up around the airport. Do NOT trust the gate number written on your ticket. Check the board.
6. There are NO boarding calls within a Gate area. (Although there may be in the general area of the airport, this still does not mean there will be any calls in the Gate area). You must line up to board yourself - don't wait to be personally called as the plane will simply leave without you. (I know this through personal experience, sadly, not just once, but twice!.)
Congratulations - you are on the plane:
A meal will be served within an hour of take off.
Half an hour before you are due to arrive you will start your descent.
If during descent your ears start to hurt, hold your nose and blow - the pressure you create will 'pop' your ears.
If the plane gets bumpy while you are flying, this is just hitting an air pocket. It feels unsafe but it is normal and it is perfectly safe.
1. When you arrive at your destination, you will leave the plane and may go through a Duty-free shopping area. Ignore these and keep going - they have very small selections.
2. You will be directed to "Immigration" - and need to show your passport and your visa.
3. Once you are cleared to enter the country you will progress to the "Baggage Claim" area where you will collect all your bags.
4. Now that you have your bags, you are directed to "Customs" and "Bio-Security". Here you need to give them your truthfully and carefully filled in customs form and tell them (declare) what you have. Very serious fines can be given to you if you lie and get caught.
If you are connecting to another flight:
1. When you get off the plane, you will not go through Immigration or Baggage Claim. Instead you will be directed by airline staff towards the Gate for your connecting flight.
2. If you are going through a big airport, like Hong Kong or Dubai and others, you may have to take a train - yes a train - from inside the airport from one terminal to another. It is really easy. There are no tickets. You just find out which Gate your are at and which Terminal (ie which Building) your Gate is at. For example, I am at Dubai right now. I arrived from Australia at Terminal A and followed the signs to the train and on to Terminal C. It took me 25 minutes of brisk walking and a short train ride to get here at Gate C5, so allow plenty of time. Some of these airports are huge.
If you get confused or need to get another boarding pass go to your airline's "Service" or "Connections" desk. There are always Information kiosks at every airport.
Hundreds of thousands of people go through airport terminals around the world every day and the vast majority get where they need to be without any problem. Since I am not one of those people, I am sharing with you now what I have learnt. I hope this makes it simpler for you. Knowing what to expect is half the battle:) And don't hesitate to ask others - experienced travelers are always very happy to help newbies - they know how confusing it can be.
I suggest you print out this blog and take it with you on your first trip for reference. So, have an amazing trip, oh - and don't forget to pack your Travel Bra:)