Preparing For Your Flight | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Preparing For Your Flight

Booking your flight is one of the first steps to beginning your international journey! Be sure to check into whether your flight is included in your study abroad program fee, or if you will have to book your flight independently.

First Time Flying

Traveling overseas entails long hours that can be with other program students or with strangers. Below are a few resources available to prepare you for in-flight travel.


Buying A Plane Ticket

In many cases, program directors will work out the travel arrangments, if the flight is included in the program fee. Students will arrive at the airport prior to the time of departure and will not be accompanied by a chaperone. If you would like to extend your flight arrangements in a group flight, be sure to speak with your program director.

If flight arrangements and fees are not included in the program, students will need to book and pay for a plane ticket to their international site. Students will aso be responsible for ground transportation to the program site. When deciding flight arrangements, be sure to keep in mind the orientation time, if applicable. Some plane tickets add a "+1 day", which means that you will be arriving to your destination the next day.

When booking your own flight, be aware of the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory and avoid countries with a level 3 or 4. When looking at routes, check the countries of any stops/layovers on the Department of State website to make sure the travel advisory level is a 1 or 2.

It is important to note that you can purchase your ticket directly through airlines via their site, or through a third party provider. Plan to arrive during the daytime as a safety precaution. Keep in mind that not all airports are open 24 hours. 

Below is a list of airlines and third party search engines. Please note that these are suggestions; the Study Abroad Office does not endorse or show favor towards any airline or site. It is the student's responsibility to research airlines and their offerings prior to booking a flight.

What to Expect at the Airport

Typically, all airports offer the same services. Some have a domestic terminal and an international terminal, others combine the two. Check your airplane ticket for your departure location to be sure that you are traveling to and from the correct location!

Some layovers may involve transferring to another airport in the country. If you have any questions about a specific airport, be sure to check the airport's website, and also the airline's site.

You can check-in at the check-in counter, a self check-in kiosk, or online (accessible 24 hours prior to departure time). Checking-in allows passengers to receive their boarding pass. Boarding passes provide passengers with time of boarding and departure, gate number, and seat assignment. 

As you check in, you can check in your bags if you are bringing more than just a carry-on, and if not previously arranged, choose your seat assignment. We recommend that students select their seat assignments when purchasing tickets or ahead of departure day to avoid being booted off your flight if the airline oversold tickets.

When checking-in, be sure to have your passport and/or confirmation number so that staff can look you up in the system.

Be sure to check-in at least two hours before your flight departure time. Many airlines have a check-in deadline. If the deadline is not met, you may not be able to board your flight.

Note: Take into consideration the check-in line, security check, getting to your gate, or an additional tram or bus ride. It's a rule of thumb to arrive at the airport 3 hours early for international flights and 2 hours early for domestic flights. Visit your airline's website for more information.

Getting through security can be a long and tiring process. Be patient and follow the rules to ensure a speedy process. When going to the security check point, you will show your passport and boarding pass to the staff member at the podium. The staff will direct you to a a security line, where you will remove your shoes, metal objects, jackets and sort your carry-on items, like electronics, into bins. Any liquids over 3 oz will be thrown away (hair products and lotion included). Add your carry-on bags to the rollers with your sorted bins after removing said items.

Sorting will be followed by a body scan or a metal detector. Additionally, you may be randomly selected for a pat-down. Prepare to have your personal space invaded! After the pat down, grab all your items from the roller and stack your bins. There may be a case where your things are held (this simply means that you did not sort or take out an item(s) and the staff will go through your bag individually and notify you if there are any issues). 


Arriving to an airport in another country also means going through an immigration process. There are generally two or three lines for arrivals, one for host country nationals, one for citizens of a certain region (e.g. European Union), and non-citizen visitors. Be sure to enter the correct line for a fast exit.

Do NOT use your electronics in the immigration and inspection area. If staff see any electronics, they are liable to be confiscated.

At the immigration counter, officials will review your travel documents (passport, visa, green card, etc.) and may also ask you questions such as, where you're staying or how long you plan to be in the country. Questions vary and depend on what the official deems necessary. Some countries also require a fingerprint or photo of non-citizen visitors. Lastly, the official will stamp your passport if you are granted permission to enter. 


During your flight, you may be issued a Customs Declaration Form depending on your destination, be sure to complete it while in flight. A sample of the U.S. Customs form can be found here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the flight attendants. The form may ask your exit and entry locations for the flight, your flight number, and goods that you are bringing into the country (e.g. food, amount of money, commercial merchandise). For customs, every airport and country is different.

Customs can be done at the same time as immigration or separate in another area. Customs is responsible for the flow of goods, foods, personal iterms, and animals, in and out of a country. Each country's customs operates differently and abide by their own laws and regulations. It is recommended that you check into what your destination country allows in and out and how much. When you meet the custom officials, present your declaration form. Your luggage could be inspected, so make sure to include everything that may be relevant to the form to escape being fined. For many passengers, this process is short, similar to immigration - just be sure to follow all the rules and directions!

Example Airport Immigration and Customs sites:

Some countries require entry and exit fees, as well as Visas. Check to see if your country has requirements in the Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements section of your country's page. Simply enter the country's name on the Department of State's U.S. Passports & International Travel site to learn more. You can also learn about any entry, exit, or visa requirements via the embassy of the country you're visiting. Find your country's embassy in the U.S.