Doubts about Air Travel
WHAT ITEMS ARE PROHIBITED INSIDE AN AIRCRAFT?
After 9/11 lot of security restrictions have been brought in to ensure the safety of the travelers. Consequently lots of items are not permitted to be taken inside an aircraft.
Anything which can be used as a weapon is not permitted.
Weapons are not permitted inside the aircraft, either in your hand luggage or on any part of your body. This is stipulated by international security regulations and applies not only to firearms but also to knives, daggers or swords, etc. This is the most important security restriction and you are liable to be arrested at any time during your flight for violating this and punishment can be severe. Should you wish, for personal reasons of any kind, to take a weapon with you, please declare it at the check-in counter. It will be stored in a special case for transport in the aircraft hold and handed over at the termination of your flight.
Dangerous articles that may jeopardize the safety of your co-passengers are not permitted. You are not permitted to take these in your hand baggage or checked in baggage. All baggage items are x-ray screened and you are likely to be detained in case anything dangerous or suspicious is found in your baggage. Explosives, compressed or toxic gases, flammable liquids, easily ignitable or self-ignitable solids, substances that develop flammable gases on contact with water, oxidizing, poisonous, infectious or corrosive substances, or magnetizing materials are all termed as dangerous.
You are permitted to carry life-support articles like heart pacemakers containing radioactive materials like a plutonium battery or other items like smoking materials carried on your person, medicinal and toilet articles, though without aerosols.
ARE THERE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT IN THE AIRCRAFT?
Restrictions on electronic equipment usage are placed to avoid any interference with the aircraft’s electronic systems. Certain items are permitted to be used on board and you may seek the advise of the cabin crew in this. Generally, cordless radio or TV transmitters/receivers and laptops and computer printers may not be used onboard. You can, of course, use cassette recorders, pocket calculators and electric razors. In this the word of the cabin crew is final and you must adhere to their instructions.
CAN I CARRY MY PET WITH ME IN THE AIRCRAFT?
Pets are generally not permitted inside the aircraft with you but are allowed in special temperature controlled well-illuminated areas separated from you. You can book your pet in a secure crate or pet box.
Under certain circumstances your pet may be allowed to travel with you:
- If your pet is well trained.
- It meets the specified health norms.
- If the size of the pet is not too large.
You must clarify all issues at the time of booking your flight.
WHAT CAN I CARRY AND WHERE DO I KEEP MY HAND BAGGAGE?
Any item that you may require during the flight is permitted as hand baggage. Your hand bags, overcoats, blankets, cushions, and other small items of luggage etc., can be kept in the overhead storage bins above your seat. During the flight there is the likelihood of the storage bins opening due to turbulence and your baggage may fall out. At the time of storage, you must ensure that they are stored properly to avoid injury to yourself or others.
Some of the items that you may need during the flight will fit under the seat in front. You can not keep your stuff in the aisles or near emergency exits for the convenience and safety of other passengers and cabin staff. For security reasons, you must limit yourself to one item of hand luggage and articles you require for personal use—for example, camera or umbrella.
Almost all airlines crew will help you, especially if you are old or have a small child/infant with you.
WHEN CAN I USE THE TOILET ON BOARD AN AIRCRAFT?
There are no restrictions on use of the toilet in the aircraft except during take off and landing. It is preferable to use the toilet at the airport before going on board. It is never possible to exactly estimate the exact time of the aircraft moving on to the runway before take off after you have boarded and you may spend up to an hour or so inside the aircraft before getting airborne.
You may use the toilet in the aircraft before it starts moving. It is better to avoid this to avoid any injury to yourself due to falling down.
WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR SMOKING ON BOARD AN AIRCRAFT?
The rules to allow smoking in confined spaces have been changing regularly in recent times because of the increased levels of awareness about the ill effects of smoking, both direct and indirect (passive smoking). Aircrafts have separate areas designated as no smoking areas. In case you want to be in a specific area clearly state your preferences at the time of booking your seat. However, your co passengers will invariably prefer that you do not smoke a cigar or pipe during the flight because some people do not cherish the smell.
Smoking in any case is not permitted inside the toilets or in the aisles of the aircraft to prevent accidental fires. Smoking is also not permitted during take off and landing due to the same reasons.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT FASTEN MY SEAT BELT DURING TAKE OFF OR LANDING?
Seat belts are used to keep you in your seat even during sudden movements, jerks or halts. In automobiles or the aircraft the purpose is the same- to prevent injury to you due to sudden jerks. A seat belt holds you securely in your seat and prevents injury in an emergency braking situation or an aborted take off. Before take off the aircraft moves and stops many times while getting in to the take off mode. You may experience sudden jolts during this.
During take of a person sitting erect in a vertical position, with the front table folded has a lesser chance of injury due to any accident. The pull of gravitational forces during take off is very strong and you may be thrown off balance if you are standing at that stage. It is in your interest to follow the instructions of the flight crew strictly while in the aircraft.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR DELAYED FLIGHTS?
There are various reasons for a flight to get delayed. No airline deliberately delays a flight since it causes revenue and reputation loss. Some of the causes for delay could be:
- Increased air traffic resulting in air and ground congestion.
- Military flights and over flights by other countries.
- VIP movements.
- Bad weather.
- Unscheduled repairs to the aircraft.
- Delays in other flights that your aircraft was operating.
- Crew problems- late reporting or other related incidents.
- Problems at the destination or transit airports.
WHAT CAUSES SUDDEN TURBULENCE DURING FLIGHT?
Atmospheric changes create air streams in the sky at various altitudes. These air streams could have a velocity of 100-500 km per hour. The high speeds cause the aircraft to be tossed around, which causes the sudden disturbances during flight. Normally the flight route is charted in consultation with the meteorological experts and areas likely to have turbulence are avoided. It may not be always possible to do so and turbulence may suddenly appear. Under such situations or if you are planning to take a nap during flight, fasten your seat belt, do not panic and seek help of the air crew if you feel discomfort.
WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF WEATHER ON A FLIGHT?
Bad weather can cause certain restrictions on a flight and these could be:
- Delayed take off or landing.
- Diversion to another airport.
- Turbulence during flight.
- Longer flying hours.
- Fatigue on the crew and passengers.
- Accidents in rare cases.
AFTER LANDING WHEN CAN I GET UP AND MOVE OUT?
The aircraft takes some time to taxi to reach the disembarkation point in the airport. This will invariably be around 5-15 minutes or so. During this period the aircraft moves and stops suddenly. The signs to remain seated with your seat belt on are switched off after the aircraft crew knows it is safe to move you. Do not move from your seat till these signs are on to avoid any injury to yourself or your fellow passengers.
IS MY BAGGAGE SAFE WHILE FLYING?
At the time of checking in your heavy baggage is taken and a luggage ticket / card is given. On the basis of your flight schedule the baggage is separated, screened before loading and loaded in exact areas designated for your destination. After reaching your destination you are handed over your bags on producing the card. You identify and select your baggage from a revolving luggage belt at the airport and the airport crew checks your luggage tabs.
These conveyor belts areas are marked with your flight number and place of boarding. Also there are baggage claim signs at the airport.
In spite of every possible precaution taken by an airline, there is a possibility of your baggage being misplaced, loaded on a different flight or left at the airport you started from. If you baggage is damaged in transit or fails to turn up, please go to the “Lost and Found” office at the airport as soon as possible. Every piece of baggage is serially numbered and the airline staff track your baggage through their computers since each piece of baggage loaded on a flight is cross checked, counted and its details recorded.
The airline computers trace your baggage worldwide. The baggage after getting located is delivered to you and it may take a few days for it to reach you depending on the place it was misplaced. However, there are instances that your baggage may not be traced. In such an eventuality, you are given compensation for your lost baggage. This amount is calculated on the basis of your baggage weight and not as per the value of the same.
You must never pack your valuables like jewellery items etc in your checked in baggage.
WHY DO WE GET DISCOMFORT IN THE EARS DURING TAKE OFF OR DESECENT?
The air pressure in the atmosphere varies according to the altitude. Air gets rarefied at higher altitudes and the pressure outside the aircraft may be half or quarter or less than that of the sea level air pressure. During take off or landing the cabin pressure varies according to the altitude and your ears adjust to this variation. This may result in a crackling noise or discomfort in your ears.
You can relieve this discomfort by yawning, swallowing hard or chewing gum. You may pinch your nose and force the air into it to open the larynx and relieve the discomfort.
If you are suffering from bad cold, you may use nose drops in both nostrils during take off and landing to overcome this. You may even consult the air crew or a doctor before your flight.
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE MEDICAL PROBLEMS DURING A FLIGHT?
You should get yourself checked up by your physician before your flight to rule out any likely problems during the flight. Take your medication with you in your hand baggage and consume it as per the specific timings. If you are a patient of hypertension, diabetes or any cardiac problem you should be extra careful. Preferably do not consume alcohol during the flight.
- During the flight you may suffer from:
- Increased blood pressure.
- Breathing discomfort.
- Severe headache.
You should inform the airline about your medical condition and any specific facilities required at the time of booking your ticket. Also inform the airline about any special diet that you may require.
The air crews are trained to provide first aid during flight and in case of an emergency the flight is redirected to the nearest airport to provide medical aid to sick passengers.
In case of discomfort, do not panic but inform the air crew and take your medicine.
WHAT IS JET LAG?
On an intercontinental flight you will cross into different time zones. Your body is adjusted to the time zone of your starting point and is used to sun set and sun rise at a particular hour. In the new country you will see sun rise and sun set at different times and your body takes time to adjust to these changes- 24 hours for each 2 hour time zone shift. Jet lag is the effect on your body due to this time change. You feel fatigued and irritable for sometime till you get adjusted.
To facilitate early adjustment you can:
- Try and adjust your work hours as per the time schedules of your intended country before your departure itself.
- Get into the new time zone rhythm immediately after arrival.
- Get as much sleep as possible on the first night itself- a disciplined sleeping habit will help.
- Consult your physician before your departure to add / reduce your medication during initial day or two, if required.
CAN A PREGNANT WOMAN TRAVEL SAFELY BY AIR?
YES. Traveling by air is as safe as any other mode of travel for a pregnant woman. Even up to 32nd week of pregnancy a woman can travel on long flights. In a normal pregnancy there is no risk to the mother and the child.
You should avoid flying during the last month your pregnancy since the stress of travel or other circumstances could initiate pre mature delivery. Sitting for longer periods also causes some amount of discomfort and you can overcome this by walking in the aisle after every half hour or so to avoid leg cramps.
If you are expecting twins or any other problem during delivery consult your doctor before traveling.
CAN I TRAVEL WITH MY BABY?
YES. Babies face no problem while traveling by air. However, acute cold or an ear infection may create a problem and you should consult your doctor before traveling. A baby’s sinuses are still under development and the cabin pressure difference does not affect them.
Most aircraft also have special toilets with nursery tables on board to facilitate diaper changing. You could even have a carry cot free of charge to keep your baby comfortable during the flight. But you should place a request for the same at the time of booking your seats. You should keep your baby in this baby cot during take off and landing since this is the safest for the child. Otherwise you may hold your baby in your lap securely especially during take off and landing or during any turbulence.
Baby food, baby care articles or even emergency supply of diapers are all available on board. You may request the cabin crew to get the same.
A baby aged less than 2 years is not given a separate seat but the crew will invariably keep a seat next to you vacant to give your more space. Do not hold your child strapped inside your own seat belt since this will be uncomfortable and dangerous for the child.
HOW DO I KEEP MY CHILD OCCUPIED FOR SO LONG DURING A FLIGHT?
Children like to explore new things and will not like to sit still for a long time. You should be prepared for this beforehand. You must keep the child safe since too frequent movements in the aisle may result in disturbance to others and likely injury to the child, especially during turbulence. You may try the following:
- You can read them stories from a book that you brought along.
- You may keep the child busy in drawing certain figures if he/ she can.
- You can try and keep the child busy with some toys or games available with the air crew.
- You may keep the child busy with the in flight entertainment available.
- You may try to keep him busy with the various refreshments available.
- You may even try to get the child catch up on sleep during the flight.
Since you can assess the temperament of your child much better than anyone else plan accordingly to keep the child occupied.
CAN MY CHILD TRAVEL ALONE ON AN INTERCONTINENTAL FLIGHT?
YES. A child over the age of 5 up to teen years can travel alone on a flight. It will rather be a great experience for the child. Take care to inform the airline at the time of booking the tickets, specifically about the age of the child. Airline staff will meet the child at tea airport to help him / her in the check in and escort the child right up to the aircraft. He / she will be placed in the care and custody of the flight crew in the aircraft for special attention and care for the duration of the flight.
After reaching the destination the young flier is handed over to the designated adult after confirming their identity through an ID or passport etc. during the flight the child is never left alone and is well cared for. Even at the airports there are special children’s lounges manned by designated staff to care for the children. These lounges have adequate number of toys and games for the children.
WHAT MEASURES SHOULD I TAKE TO FACILITATE THE AIRCREW TO MAKE ME COMFORTABLE?
All airlines take care to look after all passengers during flights. You can help them by providing all possible information about yourself beforehand. You must inform about:
- Your medical condition in case you require any specific attention.
- Clearly inform about your seat choices.
- Inform about your food priorities- specifying details (vegetarian-egg eater or not etc.)
- Any specific dietary needs- diabetic food etc.
- Requirement of assistance for boarding or getting off the aircraft- like a wheel chair etc. this is a free service for incapacitated passengers.
- Prior information regarding help in check in and baggage handling etc for aged or weak passengers.
- Any requirement of in flight medical aid.
In case you wear contact lenses carry eye drops with you since humidity inside the aircraft reaches below 15% levels causing dryness of your contact lenses. This may irritate your eyes. Eye drops will help in managing humidity in the eyes.
Consult your physician before undertaking an intercontinental flight moving through different time zones. Keep you medication with you in your hand bag during the flight.
WILL I GET EMERGENCY MEDICAL HELP DURING FLIGHT IF NEEDED?
An aircraft crew is trained and equipped to handle any type of emergency. Most type of medicines for common ailments is available with the crew. A special doctor’s kit is also available on board. Any doctor with this kit can handle an emergency for initial treatment during the flight. In case of an acute emergency the captain of the aircraft will seek clearance to land at the nearest airport.
The aircrew keeps the airport staff informed about any medical emergency on board and the passenger is handed over to the doctors on ground immediately after landing. These doctors at the airports are qualified experts and never hesitate to consult them during a stop over in case you feel unwell.
In any case consult your doctor before traveling for a detailed examination to avoid any problem during the flight.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO CLEAR CUSTOMS AFTER LANDING?
The customs staff at each international airport is trained and required to allow only genuinely permitted persons and goods to enter the country. To facilitate their work and to ensure smooth movement for you, ensure:
- You have valid passport and visa documents.
- Produce all documents at the designated counters for verification.
- Declare any items that may require duty clearance / payment by you and pay accordingly.
- Answer all queries truthfully and in clear and concise manner.
After a long flight you may be tired and irritable but that is no reason for you to be discourteous to the staff at these counters. In any case make sure that you do not have anything not permitted to be carried as per international conventions.
DO NOT CARRY ANYTHING HANDED OVER TO YOU BY SOME ACQUIANTENCE IN THE FLIGHT- IT MAY HAVE SOMETHING ILLEGAL.