Debonair Catalyst Life story of Aniket

And the journey begins

Category: Blog | #MS in the US

A 30-hour journey. Three layovers. 3 countries: India(Mumbai) -> UK(London) -> USA(Philadelphia, Phoenix). It all started with some emotional goodbyes at the airport. I was nervous and a bit scared of leaving the comfort zone, and at the same time, excited as well for the challenges that lie ahead.

"The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone." – Karen Salmansohn

Mumbai International Airport Terminal 2 is grand in itself. The departure time for the Bombay -> London British Airways flight was 1:45 AM. I entered the airport at around 10:30 PM. Immigration takes some time, and then you take the long walk towards your boarding gate. We were 4 of us traveling together, and then we also meet a few other ASU students going with us on the same journey to Phoenix.

The first flight was an overnight flight to London, and we were to reach London at 06:00 AM Local Time. The trip went smooth as I had a neck pillow with me, for others who didn’t have a neck pillow, not so much maybe. When we reached London airspace, I was trying to peek into the window from the aisle seat to get an opportunity to see the London skyline. We landed safely in London, and the weather was remarkably cold in London. We changed the terminal in London, which took around 20 minutes. The new terminal had a security check-in

The airline staff do ask a few questions and check the passport and VISA, to ensure you don’t face any issues at US immigration. The new terminal had a security check-in, which restricts all liquids over 100 ml in cabin bags. We went through quickly, but one of my friends got stuck at the security check. She had a pepper spray in her cabin bag, and as per UK rules, carrying pepper spray is illegal in the UK. So they called the airport police to report the matter, and after 20 minutes she was left with just a warning. Luckily we had a long 4-hour layover at London, so we faced no issue due to the unexpected delay caused by the pepper spray. Having a more than sufficient time at layovers to accommodate any unexpected problem is useful, it seems.

We left London on American Airlines flight to Philadelphia. Some of our friends were with us to London only. They had an even longer layover time, so we had to bid them happy journey and leave to board our plane. International flights are super cool, complimentary food and drinks. The pasta was delicious on American Airlines flights. We reached Philadelphia around 3 PM local time. It’s not very difficult to see time fly by as most of the long and tiring journey was spent sleeping. I had a window seat but was not able to see much of the city’s skyline while landing.

We went through immigration at Philadelphia as it’s the port of entry in the USA. The immigration officer checked the US customs declaration form and asks a few questions, then he marked it as agriculture. And one additional checkmark as I was carrying over $10k in monetary instruments (I was carrying my tuition fee bankers cheque). The financial instrument check was completed in like 10 minutes, faced no issue at all. The officer just checked the banker’s cheque and made a note of it. Then my bags were tagged for agriculture, so I took my check-in bags for agriculture inspection. You are not allowed to carry any seeds, fruits, vegetables, and a few other restricted items in the US. They checked my luggage and asked me to open my cabin bag for manual inspection. They only found a soap bar in it, which is not an issue. The investigation got completed in under another 20 minutes, which included the queue of around three people before me.

After clearing all Immigration and Customs procedures, I rechecked in my bags and moved to another terminal for the next flight. Again there was a security check at the new terminal entry point. They again checked my cabin bags. The queue was rather long here, around 20 minutes long. We had a long layover of 4 hours at Philadelphia, so we were never in a hurry, and everything went smooth. The terminal looks more like a mall because it has more shops/eateries than departure gates.

The last leg of our journey was the flight to Phoenix. It was around 5 hours long from East coast to West coast. I had the window seat, and the view of the Philadelphia city skyline was super awesome. The rest of the flight was spent sleeping and taking rest. There was no complimentary food or drinks on this flight as it was a domestic flight. It’s difficult to keep track of time as the US itself has multiple time zones. We reached Phoenix at around 08:00 PM Local Time.

“As we get out of the gates, a new journey begins, another adventure commences, a new story is in writing. And I am ready for it.” -Aniket