Herewith I am sharing my experience on traveling abroad for the first time, from Chennai Anna international Airport to Haneda International Airport in Japan. This is my first time experience to abroad and I was traveling alone. There was a lot of advices from my seniors and peoples from Japan, hope it helps me a lot.
It was an official trip and I would really like to travel in flights. In my ticket it was mentioned that I can take up to 20kg in Check-in luggage and I was provided to take extra 5 kg through my office. The packing was done in 3 bags, the check-in bag (20kg), the hand luggage and a laptop bag. My hand luggage was around 10.4 kgs and my laptop bag with clothes was around 7 kgs. You can take upto 20 kgs in Check-in luggage and hand luggage is upto 10kgs inclusive of laptop bag.
Reached Airport so early around 11PM itself with my family and checked whether my flight had scheduled (in the board outside the airport).
My flight details:
CATHY PACIFIC – CX635 – 2.55 AM from Chennai to Hongkong international Terminal.
From Chennai to Japan, there are many ways, I traveled through Hong kong. Other way is through Malaysia.
I found that my flight is scheduled on time (2:55) and after confirming with the airport security, I went inside the airport at 11:30 PM for 2:55 AM flight. Going so early is so good. When I went inside , there was a small check in the gate and they let me in with my luggages.
When I went inside there was lot of stalls for each airways and you have to check for your Airways stall, in my case its Cathy Pacific and I was surprised to see there was a huge line in my airways alone and I was standing after 13 peoples in line. (I thought, its was too early so no one will be there in my line).
When I was standing in the line, the staffs of Cathy pacific gave a tag called “Luggage Tag”, in which I need to write my Name, address with phone number and tie it around my luggage. Also, they gave me a immigration form in which I need to fill up the details of where I am going, where I am going to stay etc etc. After a hour of standing in line i reached the counter and kept my luggage in the weight machine and it shows 20 kgs, the person ask me to keep the hand luggage separately and gave me 2 boarding passes, one is from Chennai to Hongkong and one is from Hongkong to Japan. We have to keep this boarding passes very safely.
After the weighing part, the machine automatically moves my luggage to airport Cargo. From there, I took my hand bag and laptop bag and was looking around the airport(actually i have no idea where to go after that), then I ask a Cathy pacific staff and he told go straight for immigration.
I started to follow one of my fellow passenger and went to immigration, the immigration counters are same for all . In Immigration they got my immigration form, punched a seal on page opposite to my visa and let me in. The immigration process was not too complicated in Chennai Airport. We have to go straight and there is a elevator that takes you to a shopping mall (its a duty free shopping place in chennai, quite small and lead you to customs).
In Customs, they ask me to keep my laptop, my mobile in a separate tray and my hand luggage in another tray and asked me to walk through a metal indicator. There are some staffs like navy guys checked my pockets. Since my luggage is too weight they got a doubt on my luggage and asked me to open it. I have sealed everything with brown cello-tapes and it was hard for me to remove and show them that was just Rice.
After seeing that, they left me. I went straight to waiting hall where the display show the which gates is scheduled for your flight. My flight was not scheduled at that time, so was waiting in the hall for a long time and watching the passengers all over.
Felt so sleepy as it crosses 1 AM in the morning, to make myself awake I bought a coffee over there, while buying i remember my sister words to chew gums while takeoff so that your ears won’t get affected. I bought a chiclets packets, both costs around 120 rupees, shocked anyway but didn’t show it out. 😛
Time passes and i found that my flight arrives at gate no. 4, so I shifted with my luggages to gate 4 and peoples are waiting for the gates to be opened. There were announcements often about the flights and other informations (Mostly there were lot of lufthansa’s flight announcement)
Gates opened, they first called the first class peoples and Marco polo club peoples and let them in, after that they call peoples in seat wise, like from 60 to 70 – Please stand in line, which reminds me of my college days. There are also some staffs checking the luggage weight while we are waiting in the hall , you have to pay for that luggages if it exceeds, and I too got feared and lift my 10 kgs bag always up and pretending to show them that its doesn’t weigh more..
It was gate no. 4 and chennai has around 10 gates.My seat was 59H and I was standing in the line to get into the flight. The staff of the airways asked me to keep the boarding passes and the passport in the hand. When i enter into the flight, they tore the part of boarding pass and give the remaining to me, it was a moving bridge that connects the gates with the flight gates.
When i entered, there were some beautiful air hostess in red color dress welcoming inside the flights and directing towards our seats, mine was a economy class and I was supposed to cross through business class and first class. The seats and structure are awesome in business class and Cathy pacific is the only airway that has a luxurious business classes. Had a great expectation to watch my seat, when I enter the economy class, OMG, what is this.. the seats are like our ultra deluxe bus seats with a push back facility.
Each seat has a small display in the opposite seat. After all the passengers are seated there is a introduction video showing the facilities inside the flight, it was really amazing to watch that video for the first time. It says how to wear seat belts, where is the parachute , oxygen masks what we need to do in-case of emergency and so and so.. after the video, the captain introduce himself and tell that we will take off in few minutes. There was a announcement to switch off the cellphones and other wifi enabled devices as they may affect the flights control panel.
I just wore my seat belt and was keep on operating the display in the front. The front seat has a table like provisions and a glass holders and some books about their airways. Captain announces that its time to fly, the air hostess seated in their respective seats and tied up their seat belts. My seat was next to a window seat, and I was watching the airport through the window and talking to my family on other side. Flight started to move in a hell speed and I can see the movement of wings as it takes off smoothly from the ground. It was 3 AM in the morning and I was watching the beauty of chennai in night through the window.
A few minutes later, it crossed the Marina and was full dark, then again i started to operate the display in my front, air hostess was distributing headsets and blankets with pillows. The headset pin was on my seat’s handle. I just plugged in and selected “English” in the language bar of the display. It displays the Recently Added movies in the front and I was shocked to see that “American Pie” is at the top. I was actually thinking how do peoples can watch such movies inside the crowd, and I choose Avengers film, the next seat fellow was watching “Housefull”.
Air hostess gave us a welcome drink and I choose Orange, it was a thick complexity of TANG. Then there was a announcement to close the window so that you sleep wont get distrub because of early sun. So everyone closes the window, now the flight was going in a constant attitude. It was around 4 AM in the morning and I was trying to figure out the volume button for a long time, finally i asked the person next to me and he clicked on the center button, at that time only i realize that there is a button in the dispaly. 😛
I felt sleepy , so switch off the display and slept , after few hours, air hostess waking me up around 7 in the morning and giving me the menu card for breakfast. Oh,its too early and i was thinking anyway there is lot of time before flight lands(it was actually marked as 11 AM destination time in the ticket) and whyy do peoples are insisting to eat so early. There were 3 combo’s in the menu and I ordered a veg combo that consists of chappati,pongal, vadai, sweet, sambar , satni with spoons tissues accompanied by a hot drinks. The person next to me ordered a non-veg combo and was having a full meal.
Once the breakfast is over, the air hostess brought hot drinks and they asked me to keep the cup, they pored only the decation and we need to take the sugar and coffee whitener from their stand. Actually I have no idea, i just was sipping the decation (black coffee) without sugar, it was so pathetic and somehow I managed to drink a half. It reaches 8 AM and there is an announcement that we entered Hongkong and we will be landing in 10-15 minutes. I was suprised, in the ticket they have mentioned it as 11 and its only 8, soon after that I noticed that it was the local time of Hongkong which was around 11 and that’s what mentioned in ticket.
It was very beautiful to watch Hongkong from the window, these places are surrounded by mountains and seas and the ships are like dots when we watch it from the top. The runways is on the sea and my flights lands safely. Peoples are busy taking their hand luggages and were standing to move out of the flight. Again a moving crane bridge fixes to the doors of the flight and let the peoples to enter into the Airport.
There are some beautiful Chinese Air hostess standing near the doors and welcoming me to their country.
Transit : Transit is the place where we need to transfer to other flights for your destination. If there is no through flights from source to destination, then they will go from Source -> Transit -> destination. In my case, my transit was Hongkong and my next flight to Japan is at 4 PM.
Hongkong International Terminal: It is one of the biggest and the busiest airport in the world. When I reached Hongkong I was supposed to pass through the customs. As I have cold, my mom gave me hot water in a bottle and dad packet chappati’s to eat in transit. During the customs they asked me to keep all the things in the packet to a tray and my laptop on other tray, even they told to remove the metal belt and keep it. They poured the water into the dustbin and told that there are hot water provisions inside the airport.
After the checkup is over they let me in, there was fellow person TAMILAN was coming near to me and we both introduced ourself. His name is Prabhakar and he is a PhD student studying in a Korean University. He was actually going to Korea and myself going to Haneda, Japan. It was second time for him and he guided me through the airport. The Hongkong was the biggest airport with more than 500 gates and our flights are not scheduled to any gates so we keep on walking in one directions to other end of the airport.
In Hongkong there is a Open wifi available for the passengers use along with some free internets on the systems over there . Prabhakar sits in a system and was accessing the internet and I started to browse from my laptop.
As time moves, my laptop charge get drained there are lot of power points in a specific interval all over the airport so i went there and connected my universal travel adapater to the plug and charged my laptop. Since the plug points are common, there is a chinese girl who sits next to me and was browsing. Suddenly she asks “Which country are you from?” – and I replied I am from India and on the way to Japan, she replied that I am going to Beijing and she was sitting in the exact gate. There were many chat windows on her screen and she was busy replying to all. A bit later Prabhakar joined me and was sharing his experience in korea.
Was happy to hear from him. Hee told to take care of his luggages so that he can brush up and come back. I felt, that I should have kept the paste and brush on my hand luggage, but I adjusted using the Mint chewing gum that I bought in chennai. His flight was around 2 and he went saying goodbye , I got his facebook account and gmail contact (We are still in touch). Often I used to go to the board and watch whether my flight had scheduled in any gates or not, but till 2.30 it was not scheduled. Once my friend went, this Chinese girl again started to talk. At a period , i was scolding in my mind why they haven’t put my gate no. so that I can escape from her questions, fortunately they announced her gate no. and she left.
Later, I found my gate was 69 and I moved with my luggage to that gate. There are lot of purchasing area inside hongkong airport and all are DUTY free Shops. I just ate my Chappati which tastes good and got some hot water over there. I called to my parents and told that I m in china ma currently.
Since Hongkong is the most busiest airport you can see the flights landing for every 1 min. and its also located in a beautiful location. Its nice to watch the run ways from there. Announcement came for my flight and I had my boarding passes from Hongkong to Haneda airport on hand. A person checks it and send me inside the flight, even they didn’t tore my boarding pass, this time window seat and I was so happy.
When I entered the flight I was so shocked to see that I am the only Indian over the flight and cant find any one of my nationality. Felt a bit sad and went to my seat. And the next seat to me is a super figure 😛 and i was thinking Wow..God ur Great. Again the introduction video , this time was not really impressed to watch. Flight stated to move over a long way, when i see through the window there are no. of flights coming back, it like our local bus-stand. It takes off smoothly and I was watching the beauty for a long time.
A bit later, Vegetarian meals are served first, Not so good also not so bad, fine with it and they started to distribute alcoholic drinks. The air hostess was serving something, I too got that thinking that it should be coffee and this time we should get sugar and Whitener. But actually it looks like a soup and IT SMELLS HELL BAD.. I didn’t take even a sip and kept it as it is. 😛
Same films are displayed in the TV, I just saw the remaining part of Avengers. An Air hostess gave a customs form and I was surprised, what to do with that form. When I ask them, they told u need to handover to customs department in Japan. “Oh Ok, thanks”. I started to fill the form with the address details in Japan, my name and they asked whether ur carrying any probhited items to Japan. In the form it was mentioned that “To see list of items, please check backside”. When I saw it was mentioned “RICE” in section C. First I ticked No, later when I see the terms and conditions i just got some fear and i ticked YES. I was also thinking if they ask to show we can give the rice to them and go.
<Actually, although u carry you should not tick the YES>
Time passes, again the air hostess asked , “Any drinks” – No please. Actually i was suffering from good cold. so don’t like to take any drinks and after the film got over, i slept. An announcement wakes me up indicating that we have reached Japan. When I look through the windows i can see the beauty of Japan at night.I can see the clear base view of Japan, and my ears started to pain during the landing. I keep my ears closed tightly with my finger, even though it pained me a lot.
Flight landed safely and it was 8 PM. I adjusted my watch with the local time. A bus was standing to pick up and drop us at the terminal.
Its Haneda International Airport, I was following the passengers which leads straight to immigration. There a lady was inspecting and she was keep on asking lot of questions, she asked to fill the amount that you bring to Japan, Who is there , What is the reason etc etc after she was satisfied, she asked me to keep my fingers in a biomeetric machine and look at the webcam. She recorded me entry and let me inside the Japan. From there I went to the luggage area. My dad did a right thing of tieing a yellow rope on my luggage ,it helps me to identify my luggage so easily. Then I took my luggage, got the trolley and went to customs, They are severely checking the luggages and I was actually standing and watching all of them and finally I figure out a person who is not actually cared about things and let everyone go. So I went and stand in that line. He got the form (that i filled on the flight) and let me to go out.
Felt so so happy after coming out of the Japan Airport. There is place to take bus tickets and train tickets. Got a bus ticket to Mushahi-kosugi and the girl who gave the ticket said me clearly, where I have to go and which place the bus will come and the timings. The bus ticket cost around 900 yen. . I went to that bus terminal and waiting for that bus. Its 9.50 PM in Japan and my bus is at 10.50 PM. So I went to the waiting hall and was watching the vending machine opposite to me. I called to my fellow colleague “Pravin” through a coin phone and told him that i will be reaching Mushashi-kosugi station at 11.30 so please wait there. He replied with “yes”.
While the bus is yet to arrive the person who keeps the luggage in bus dicky ask me which place your going and I told Mushashi kosugi and again he asked which stop first one or the second. Actually he was asking in Japanese and I don’t understand what he was asking?. I said 2 through action and he understands it. At that time only, I know that there are 2 stations in Mushashi kosugi and was thinking all way , In which stop Pravin will be waiting for me.
So whenever the stop is going to arrive there is a IVR in the bus that tells the stop and the persons have to pick up their luggage manually from the dicky. Since i use Aircel, my network doesn’t work in Japan. I have no means to contact pravin, if I am missed over there . Having that fear in mind, i was watching all way. I have seen the office through Gmaps before I reach Japan, so I was looking whether I can figure out my office, my stop comes (1st stop) and there are lot landmarks that resembles rte maps including office , hotels etc and I get down saying a thank you to the driver.
My luggage was kept inside deeply and I struggled to take it.I was searching all over the bus stand for Pravin. Before my search completes the bus moves and I finalized that, Pravin is not here and he should be in the next stop. My luggages were too heavy and I was taking them with me to search for coin phone. Although I don’t have coins in my hand, i was searching for that machine. My search ends, I cannot find any phones over there and I returned back to the bus station itself. There were taxi’s standing nearby the road.I thought if I couldn’t figure out a way to contact him, I would ask the taxi driver to drop in his apartments. It was more than half an hour after I reach the bus stand and its late night, finally i find a Japanese on that way . His name is “Shin”, I stopped him and asked, “do you speak english?”, he said “A little” and I explained about the situation, I showed my phone and told him that I don’t have network and I was waiting for my friend for a long time. There is no coin box , so can u please make a call to this no. He said yes and called to Pravin, actually for the first time it didnt go and I requested to do it for the next time and finally i spoked to him.
Pravin told that, I was in the next station and u stay there, I will come in another 20 minutes. I was relaxed after hearing that, and said hearty thanks to that Japanese and gave my visiting card to him. You can mail me any time. He said “Ok” and went. After 10 minutes Pravin reached the place and we walked around 20 minutes to reach our apartments.
FINALLY HOME ……
<Thanks for spending such a huge time to read this full story.. hope you enjoy>