Travellers’ top tips
I have picked up a few miscellaneous pieces of information on my travels that I thought might be worth sharing. I’ll add things to this post as they occur to me so it’s always going to be a work in progress.
- Currently all passengers arriving at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) are required to produce their boarding cards on arrival at the immigration desk. Make sure you keep yours, then, and don’t leave it behind in the seat pocket of the aeroplane as most normal people would.
- If you are a regular traveller to India, you will need to fill in am immigration form and a customs form. Sometimes airport staff carrying the forms meet your plane and hand them to you but you still need to fill them in and there is a tiny counter with no pens that you must share with everyone arriving on your flight and others. Chances are that no-one will have a pen. I have been asked to fill in this form for a UAE “guest worker” who read neither English or Hindi. The cool thing to do is to pick up a cheeky couple of spare copies of these forms as you pass and fill them in before landing in the comfort of your plane seat.
- If you are staying at a hotel near the CSIA, your travel time to or from the airport is less than 5 minutes.
- When you depart from CSIA, you will be required to show a printout of your ticket and your passport before the guard with the gun allows you to enter the terminal building. Make sure any printout has your name on it or you will be required to rootle through your luggage to find extra proof that you are who you are.
- The Lacoste concession at CSIA is one of the cheapest you will find anywhere. Conversely, forget about buying cosmetics here: they are much more expensive than at home and have probably been sitting around longer, too.
Dubai: (Caveat: I’ve never actually ventured outside DXB airport)
- In the past it has taken me nearly an hour to travel between a landing gate and a departure gate for my connecting flight. Make sure you leave at least 2 hours’ connection time between flights. My flight from Mumbai was delayed by two hours this week and I only just made my connecting flight to LGW, even though I had left a connection time of 2 hours 50 minutes. Be warned.
- Dubai Airport shopping is nowhere near the bargain centre that you’d think. Few things are cheaper here than elsewhere and the only extensive ranges they have are of cosmetics, booze and gold. There are watches too.
- If you’re going into the Business Class lounges, make sure that you go to the one nearest your gate of DEPARTURE and not of arrival.
- The food in the DXB business class lounges is really nothing to write home about. It’s more a nice, quiet place to do some people watching because all human life is definitely here. You’re better off in one of the restaurants of the terminal if you really want to eat something but, of course, that isn’t free.
London Gatwick Airport
- A far more homely experience than London Heathrow, and one which I much prefer. There isn’t the range of high end shops here that you’d find at Heathrow, though, and you’ll be disappointed if you are looking for less high street brands of skincare and cosmetics duty free. Prices are low, though, so I always plan to replenish my skincare supplies when I am travelling to India. Leave space in your carry-on. You can buy emergency tea rations in the shop here but not instant coffee.
- On arrival at London Gatwick baggage hall, you will now require £1 for a trolley. I was caught out this week so have now put a £1 coin into the pocket of my travel cross-body handbag. (Not a good look, I know, but it enables me to wheel the rest of my luggage effectively.)
- It is probably best never to get into a discussion with Air Canada ground staff at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport about how the Air Canada staff at Heathrow let you check your ski boots through. Unless you have bought a “ski package,” you will have to take them as hand baggage. Either that or be escorted off the premises by security staff.
- A380s are excellent planes but they have too many cubbyholes and storage compartments. On an overnight flight this week I secreted my glasses case in a drinks station for safety then fell asleep – it was 3am and I was groggy. When I awoke and watched a film, I forgot all about my glasses and I left them on the plane. Although I was able to tell Emirates Airlines my flight and seat number, somehow my glasses have NOT BEEN FOUND. Beware.