Aniket my shared wisdom

And the journey begins

Category: Blog | #MS in the US

A 30-hour journey. 3 layovers. 3 countries: India(Mumbai) -> UK(London) -> USA(Philadelphia, Pheonix). It all started with some emotional good byes 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 just 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 traveling with us on the same journey to Pheonix.

The first flight was an overnight flight to London and we were to reach London at 06:00 AM Local Time. The flight 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 London skyline. We landed safely in London and the weather was truly awesome in London. We changed the terminal at London which took around 20 minutes. The new terminal had a security check-in

The Airlines 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 easily, but one of my friends was stuck at the security check. Apparently, 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 issue is really useful, it seems.

We left London on American Airlines flight to Philadelphia. Some of our friends were with us till London only. They had an ever 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 very tasty on the American Airlines flights. We reached Philadephia 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 office just checked the US customs declaration form and asks a few questions, then he marked my form as agriculture, and one additional check as I was carrying over $10k in monetary instruments (I was carrying my tuition fee bankers cheque). The monetary 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 inspection got completed in under another 20 minutes which includes the queue of around 3 people before me.

After clearing all Immigration and Customs procedure, 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 the 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 than departure gates.

The last leg of our journey was the flight to Pheonix. It was around 5 hours long from East coast to West coast. I had the window seat and the view of Philadelphia city skyline was super awesome. 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 Pheonix 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 the writing. And I am ready for it.” -Aniket