Plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before departure time. This is an absolute must when beginning an international trip, even if the first leg of your trip is a domestic flight.
Make sure you have your tickets, passport, visa, and certificate of immunizations (if required). You should also be sure to have money (some in small bills) and/or travelers’ checks as well as contact information of your family and the missionaries.
Check your baggage through to your final destination—unless you have an overnight layover in the United States. If you do overnight in the States while en route, you must pick up your luggage at baggage claim and then recheck it the next morning as you board the international flight. This airline regulation exists for security purposes; you are not permitted to check the baggage all the way through to the final destination if you are not going to accompany it on the flight.
Keep all baggage stubs with your tickets, making sure you were given the ones that match what is on your luggage.
All carry-on bags must be placed under the seat or in overhead storage when you board. Be certain your carry-on bags meet airline requirements in size, or they will be checked and put in the hold of the aircraft.
Put a name tag on each piece of luggage. Remember how many pieces you initially checked, since you will need to verify all of your luggage has arrived at your destination.
When exiting airplanes, cars, buses, or trains, be sure to make a final check for luggage and personal items. People have been known to allow a piece of luggage to travel across a continent without them!
When changing to a different airline for a connecting flight with a different airline, check in immediately at the corresponding ticket desk to determine the gate number and loading time and to reconfirm your reservation. You can also check the monitors stationed throughout the airport, looking for your airline and flight number and gate number listed. Proceed IMMEDIATELY to the gate, and report to the airline’s counter at that gate to reconfirm your flight and find out when boarding begins. When changing planes with the same airline, ask any airline agent in the terminal for the correct gate number, then proceed immediately to that gate. Again, you can also refer to the monitors stationed throughout the airport.
If your plane encounters some emergency en route that requires you to stay overnight at the expense of the airline, carefully follow the instructions of the airline personnel. You and your baggage—other than your carry-on—may be separated because the baggage has been checked through by the airline. It should catch up with you or arrive at your destination at the same time you do.