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Travel to USA - Step by step tips

Disclaimer: I wrote it by recollecting whatever I remember since I traveled two years ago. So this is not a perfect guide. Please do not take this word for word. It may be used to get a general idea of what you can expect during your travel


SQ 409 Chennai (MAA - Anna Intl) to Singapore (SIN - Changi Intl)
11:35 PM 06:00 AM next day

SQ 12 Singapore (SIN - Changi Intl) to Tokyo (NRT - Narita)

                        09:40AM 05:05 PM

SQ 12 Tokyo (NRT - Narita) to Los Angeles (LAX - Los Angeles Intl)

                       06:15 PM 11:00 AM


1) Take passport and tickets. Keep them all the time in the handbag. Do not put them in any big suitcase or check-in baggage
2) Take about 50 to 100 US dollars. You can get them in the airport or any money exchange centers in India. You need to show them the passport and tickets to the dollars. Best thing is to get in the airport.
3) Take some Indian rupees preferably some change in 20’s or 50’s for making any last-minute purchases or tipping at Chennai airport.
4) Take a water bottle and some biscuits in the hand bag
5) Carry any emergency medicine, jandu balm, some cotton balls (to put in the ears) in the hand bag.
6) Pack check-in suitcases and tie them with rope. On each suitcase write name, address & USA phone number for identification. Make sure they weigh little less then the allowed weight limit. Check with the airlines the weight limit
7) Do not carry any Mangos, Fruits or vegetables.
8) Leave 3 to 4 hours early from home.
9) Carry a paper or diary with the following information
a. Home phone number in India
b. Cell Phone number in India
c. Any work phone numbers of your contacts in India
d. Home phone number in USA
e. Cell phone numbers in USA
f. Any work phone numbers in USA
g. Address in USA where you are going

10) The big suitcases will be scanned as soon you enter Chennai airport and security clearance sticker will be pasted on the suitcases. The guys at that place will help you carry the big suitcases to the Singapore airlines check-in counter. They may ask some tips like 50 rupees.
11) At the Singapore airlines check-in counter
a. They will weigh the two big suitcases. They may charge a fee if the weight exceeds the limit.
b. Give the ticket and passport to them. Ask them for window seat or aisle seat depending upon your preference. Aisle seat the one near to the walk way which is easy to get out and go to the bath room. Also it is easy for relaxing the legs. Window seat will be little congested but it may be easy for resting the head and sleep.
c. They will take Chennai– to –USA portion of the ticket and give back the rest.
d. They will give two baggage stickers (each for one big suitcase) Keep them safe along with the ticket. This is the proof that you have checked in two big suitcases. They may ask this when you take the big suitcases out in Los Angeles.
e. These two big suitcases will arrive in Los Angeles. You can not take them out once they are checked in.
f. They will give Singapore airline name tags for the handbag and cabin baggage. Put them on the bags.
g. They will give two boarding passes. One is for Chennai-to-Singapore and another for Singapore-to-Los Angeles. Keep them safe. You need them to enter the flight.
h. There will be gate number and seat number printed on each boarding pass. You need to go to that gate for entering the flight.
i. Pick up the Embarkation form at the check-in-counter.
j. Before you leave the check-in-counter check your passport, tickets and boarding pass.

12) If you don’t have US dollars, you can get them now at the money exchange counter. Give the Indian rupees and show the passport/ticket to the person at the money exchange counter. They will make an entry in the passport and issue the dollars.
13) You may want to go back to the visitor area and say final byes now.
14) Fill up the embarkation form. It is only few lines which are very easy to fill. You need to give this to the immigration officer at the next stage. They will ask some standard questions like, do you have Green card, what visa you have, where are you going etc.
15) Next you need to enter the gate area where your cabin baggage and hand bag will be scanned. Also they check your body using metal detector or some person may check in person also. Do not carry any sharp items like knife or match box, etc. They might take them away or detain you.
16) Go near to your gate and wait in the chairs. They will start calling the seat numbers in batches like seat number 20 to 40 can enter now, etc. Once your seat range is called you can enter the flight.
17) You need to give the boarding pass to the person there. They will tear one portion of it and give back the small portion. You need to keep this safe. In this your seat number will be there.
IN THE FLIGHT (Chennai to Singapore Flight SQ409)

18) Air hostess at the flight door will show you to your seat.
19) Once you reach your seat keep the cabin luggage in the storage area located over the head. Ask the air hostess or a co-passenger for assistance if needed.
20) Keep the water in hand. It will take an hour before they start serving any food or water.
21) You may keep cotton balls in the ears during the flight. Some people ears are sensitive during the flight travel.
22) There will be blankets, pillows on the seat. You may use them as you please. It will be little cold inside the flight. There will be air conditioning adjustments located above the head. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
23) There will be a small TV located in front of your seat. Flight attendant will give out head sets. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
24) There will be paper bags in your seat front packets which you may use in case of any vomiting.
25) All the food & drinks are free inside the flight. Fell free to ask the flight attendant if you need anything at any time.
26) There will be a call button located in your hand rails or TV remote just in case if you want to call the attendant. Ask the flight attendant or co-passenger about how to use them.
27) They will serve water, juice and drinks in an hour. Shortly after that they will server dinner.
28) It will take about 4 hours to reach Singapore. You will reach Singapore about 6AM Singapore time.
29) Once the flight landed in Singapore, take your cabin baggage and your entire luggage. People will be rushing to get out. No need to rush out in a hurry. Please let others go. Take your time and verify all your belongings before you get out. You can not come back once you leave.
30) Good job. You have reached Singapore Airport. It is the best Airport I have seen so for. So please enjoy while you are here.
31) You have about 3 hours 30 minutes in this airport. This is plenty of time so no need to panic and hurry. Your flight leave about 9:40 Singapore time
32) You may want to change the time in your watch as per the time displayed in the airport clock or TV monitors.
33) Check your next boarding pass (Singapore–to-Los Angeles) for the gate number of the next flight (SQ 12). Some times the Gate numbers may change. So look for the gate number information in the TV monitors and confirm it. Go to that gate.
34) Ask any airport officers or the co-passengers traveled with you if you have questions. There will signs all over the airport about the gates. You may need to walk a little distance to reach the gate. Many of the passengers traveled with you will be also going to the same gate. So it is best to find one of them and make good company out of them.
35) There will be restrooms (toilets/bath rooms are called rest rooms in USA) near every gate. Fell free to brush up, wash face or use rest room. Taking bath is little difficult because you need to go to the shower rooms which you need to pay a fee. It could be time consuming. So just use perfume. You can take a nice long shower once you reach the final destination in USA.
36) If you are comfortable or got friends you may want to walk around the airport and see things
37) Find a telecom center where they will sell phone cards. Usually if you pay 5 US dollars you can get a 3 minute phone cards. It will be like a credit card wrapped in a plastic cover. There will be phones located all over the airport where you can use these cards. You need to un wrap the card from the plastic cover and insert them in the phone machine and the dial the number. Ask someone for assistance if you need.
38) For USA you need to dial 001 + Area code + phone number and for India you need dial 001+ 91+ STD code+ phone number. Since the 5 dollar card will only work for few minutes you want to talk quick and convey any message. You can buy more cards or more value cards if you need.
39) In Singapore you can use US dollars to buy anything. But they will give the change in Singapore dollars. Just keep them as souvenir or you can use them on your way back.
40) Go back to your gate one hour early like 8:30AM. They will start calling the passengers at this time.
41) They will scan you and your baggage one more time. There may be a small form to fill at this time. Do whatever others do.
42) You need your second boarding pass now. Once again they will tear a portion of the boarding pass and give a small portion to you.
43) The seat you are going to sit now will be different now, because it is a different flight. This will be your seat for the rest of the journey.

IN THE FLIGHT (Singapore-to-Tokyo (Narita) Flight SQ12)
44) Now you will be going to Japan Tokyo (Narita) airport. It will take about 6 hours 30 minutes for this journey.
45) All the procedure inside the flight is the same as before. People leaving at Tokyo will be filling some paper work. You don’t need to fill any paper at this time.
46) Once the flight lands in Tokyo you need to carry all your luggage including the cabin luggage and get out of the plane. They will clean the flight, re fuel and change the flight attendants, etc.

47) It will be a 1 hour stop over at Tokyo
48) Once you walk out they will be calling for transit passengers. You need to follow them.
49) They may give you color card or put some sticker on your shirt identifying you as a transit passenger.
50) You will be boarding the same flight again. So follow the transit crowd or signs to the same flight (SQ12) gate.
51) There will be rest rooms near by the gate which you may use.
52) There is nothing good in this airport to buy. So you don’t need to spend anything.
53) If you want to collect Japan currency you may give one US dollar at some shop and get change or buy small candy or something.
54) Once the call your seat number, board the flight and go back to your same seat.

IN THE FLIGHT (Tokyo –to- Los Angeles (LAX) Flight SQ12)
55) This will be your longest part of this journey which will take about 10 hours.
56) Towards the end of the journey you will be given with I-94 Arrival Record form and Customs form. Fill both of them clearly. You can ask your co-passenger or flight attendant for any questions.
57) I-94 is the real visa that the officer will stamp regarding how many days you are going to stay. Write your USA address in the I-94 form.
58) Your flight will land about 11AM Los Angeles time.
59) Once the flight landed, take all your belongings and proceed to the immigration check point. Follow your co-passengers.

60) Wait in the non-immigrant line patiently. It may take an hour for you to reach the officer.
61) Give your passport, I-94 form and return ticket to the officer
62) He might ask, which country you are from, why are you coming to USA, whom you are going to see, how long you want to stay etc. Answer all the questions politely.
63) You may want to stay that you have return ticket for 6 months and ask for 6 months visa. Don’t argue if they didn’t give 6 months visa.
64) They will put a stamp on the I-94 with your stay end date. Verify that information and make sure it is correct.
65) Next you need to go and collect your baggage. There will be many circular belts in which the bags will be coming out of the plane. Go to the one for the Singapore flight SQ12. Ask anyone which is the right one or follow your co-passengers.
66) There will be pushing carts in that area. Take one with you.
67) Ask the uniformed airport staff standing there to help you with the baggage. They will help you to collect the bags. They may even carry it outside where we can pay them some tip.
68) Take the cart to the customs and agricultural check area. They will collect the customs form. They may ask questions about any foods, fruits, plants or vegetables you are carrying. They may open and check the bags
69) Once that is over you can come out where you will be received by your relatives.
70) Congratulations! You made it. Welcome to United States.
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