How Is Checking In To An International Flight Different From A Domestic Flight?

How is checking in to an international flight different from a domestic flight? International travelers have always had an extra step or two, but in today's security conscious environment, it has gotten a little more complicated.

Checking in for an international flight is somewhat different than checking in for a domestic one. Typically, you show your driver's license or other picture identification and then receive your boarding pass for domestic travel. International travelers have always had an extra step or two, but in today's security conscious environment, it has gotten a little more complicated.

"Always allow yourself a little extra time when checking in for an international flight. While the process will generally be the same as it would be for a domestic flight, people often check more luggage, and there may even be a language barrier, depending on the airline you're flying, all of which can slow down the check-in process. Be prepared for cultural differences even before you arrive at your final destination, be sure to pack your patience, and remember that getting there is half the fun," says Paula Berg of Southwest Airlines.

Most airports have separate terminals for international departures because of passport and customs stations. International travel means a passport. If you do not have one, it is best to get one as early before flying as possible in case there are backlogs of applications. Before arriving at the airport, make sure you have one copy of it, along with any other needed information. Keep these copies on your person or carry-on luggage. Leave another set of copies in an envelope that can be found easily. If you lose your passport, someone can mail you the copies.

Be sure to check either on the web or with the country's embassy that you will be visiting. Different countries have different requirements on what kind of documentation is needed. There may be other restrictions on items as well that you need to know beforehand.

Some items such as laptops, cameras and music players need to be registered with Customs and Border Protection. This is to help prevent having to pay duties on items you already own. Documentation such as sales receipts or insurance policies is plenty of proof. The items should have a serial number or other permanent markings making them unique. A Certificate of Registration form (CBP-4457) can be picked up at any local CBP office. Officers must see the item first in order to validate the form.

International terminals may have currency exchange locations. Most of them are found in the arrival area after exiting customs. You may not get as high of an exchange rate, but at least you know they are real banks and you do not have to worry about finding a location on your own.

Security checks for international flights can be more detailed. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to remove, and you may want to make sure your socks do not have any holes. Shoes, pieces of clothing and laptops may be sent through a separate machine to test for explosives residue. At some international terminals, you may encounter armed military persons, bomb-sniffing dogs and more photo identification checkpoints. Do not let them frighten you and remind your children that the dogs are at work and not for petting.

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