Just thinking about going to the airport can be overwhelming.
There are so……many lines. There are security lines, baggage lines, checking in lines, immigration lines and custom lines! As part of a mission trip, you may or may not be with your group when leaving home. Don’t let fear of the lines keep your from going on a short-term mission trip.
Let’s break it down to see what it will look like for us at the airport.
- Lines for checking in at airline counter and checking our bags
- Lines for security check
- Lines for immigration
- Lines for customs
- Lines for picking up our bags
5 Steps to less stress when flying
- Prepare ahead of your trip. You can sign up for TSA’s precheck or you can sign up for the Global Entry program. I will discuss these later.
- The day before or the day of the trip, check your flight status online. Make sure it hasn’t been cancelled or delayed. Check in for your flight online up to 24 hours before your flight. If you’re not checking bags, print your boarding pass at home. If you need to park at the airport, know all your options and make a decision before leaving.
- Shorten your time checking in at airline counter by having your documents ready and knowing how much your bag weighs. You need to have your flight information and your ID. I use a backpack purse with outside pockets where I can easily access these items. Use a handheld scale to weight your bag before going to the airport.
- Between your check-in at the airline counter and the security line, put away your documents except your boarding pass and your ID. do an assessment of your stuff! Mentally do a quick review if you have everything in order to proceed to security. Do you have a belt or jewelry that may set off the security alarm? Be prepared for when you get to the front of the line.
- When you get through the security line and to the other side, check the monitors for your flight status and gate number. Go to your gate immediately and make sure everything is on time. Then you can settle in and relax, get food or whatever until your flight is called to board.
Now you’re on the flight and on your way to your destination.
You arrive and get off the plane and it’s time to go through immigration and customs in a foreign county. More than likely, you will be with your mission trip group. You will have a lot of guidance at this point. Every country is different so each trip your experience will be different. Information is helpful when going into a new situation.
Go to the Immigration Area
Passengers will be split into different lines. One line for country nationals and one for visitors. Make sure to get in the right line so you won’t be wasting time. Don’t use your cell phone or camera in this area. Any electronic will be subject to confiscation. Stay relaxed. There’s nothing to worry about if you pay attention and follow directions.
Get your baggage and go to Customs
Customs is the country’s authority responsible for controlling the flow of goods into and out of the country. It also enforces the strict transfer of soil/dirt from one country to another. This means you may be asked to wash your shoes before proceeding. You were given a customs form to fill out while on your flight. It will list items that are prohibited. Be sure to declare any items that are on your list as they do have the right to search your baggage. It’s always better to be up front and mention it before they look. There may be fines if you have unlawful items.
The best way to save time in lines at US airports is Global Entry.
Why should you get it?
Try to imagine going through security with your shoes and belt on, your liquids and laptop in your carry-on and you walk right through security TSA Precheck line. You automatically get TSA precheck when you sign up and pay $100 for Global Entry. Upon returning from overseas, you simply go to the kisosks after deplaning and collect your baggage and you’re out of there!
How do you get it?
You apply online at Global Entry. The process is simple. You will need a US passport or permanent resident card and you cannot have violated any customs or immigration laws. The application will have a series of questions including employment history and a list of every country you’ve visited in the past 5 years. The application fee is $100 and is non-refundable.
After applying, what happens next?
You will soon receive an email advising you that you are eligible for an interview at a Global Entry office location of your choice. The offices are usually at airports and they usually have normal business hours. So, if it works for you, try to schedule your appointment before or after one of your flights. The appointment will be about 15 minutes. The questions will mostly confirm your answers on your application. They can also check your driving record. They will take your photo and fingerprints. You get your official card in the mail in about 2 weeks.
Now that you have Global Entry, how do you use it when returning from overseas?
- Land at airport after international flight
- Follow signs for Global Entry kiosk
- At kiosk, scan your passport
- Answer the customs form electronically(no paper forms!)
- The kiosk will take your photo
- Scan your fingerprints
- Take tiny receipt from kiosk
- Hand the receipt to the customs’ agent
- Get your bags and leave airport
For more information about going on a mission trip with many more tips, please sign up below to receive your FREE book, From the Couch to the Mission Field. It will be released on Amazon in mid-September 2018 and everyone on my list can download it for free!