When was making decisions and plans about going on exchange, I read this blog, searching for any tips. When I started this blog I thought I would try and fill it with tips for people wanting to go on exchange. It has been a big couple of days, and as such I have 3 tips for you:
1. Check all of your flights with every airline you are travelling on
2. Have a set of clothes in your carry on luggage (and make sure they are season appropriate!)
3. Take a mobile you can use through your trip, don’t plan to organise one when you get to your host country
As you have probably guessed, I missed my connecting flight.
To explain my tips:
Check all of your flights with every airline you are travelling with
Before I left, I checked my flights on the Qantas website countless times, as the travel agent warned me that some of the airlines in America change their flights all the time.
My flight was due to arrive at LAX at 9:45am Saturday, with my connecting flight to Denver due to depart at 1pm, giving me about a 3 hour stopover. Our departure was over an hour late as we were waiting for passengers from a domestic flight, which made a lot of people nervous, but we were only about half an hour late arriving. When we got into LAX, express tickets through security were given to people catching connecting flights to a few cities, including Denver. I lined up to get my express ticket, but when they looked at my itinerary they told me I had time to get through the line at security. Once I was through, I checked my phone and there was a message from dad telling me that according to United’s website, my flight had been moved to 10:57… it was 11.15. I then went to check in my bag and was told I had missed my flight; I had to give my bag to the man with a red shirt; and I had to get to terminal 7 immediately. After handing over my suitcase and getting a little bit lost, I found an information desk in the United terminal, where I was told I had missed my connection flight and needed to rebook.
To summarise the next few hours, everyone I spoke to blamed someone else for the miscommunication and I eventually discovered that there were no seats left to Regina that night. United claimed that my travel agent should have informed me of the change but they didn’t know about the change themselves, and Qantas never made the change on their website, so from now on I will check flight times with every airlines website.
Have a set of clothes in your carry on luggage
So as I mentioned earlier, I was told to give my suitcase to “the man in the red shirt”… I haven’t seen it since! Luckily I had a spare set of clothes in my carry on, but I thought I was being clever by packing my heaviest clothes to save space in my suitcase – ignoring the fact that thick jeans and long sleeve tops are not appropriate for Summer in LA. (I also wore my heaviest boots, which had a heel. These were comfortable enough to wear on the flight, but I regretted the decision after all the walking I had to do at LAX) Nevertheless, I was very happy to be able to change out of the clothes I had been wearing for a very long time. I also had deodorant and a toothbrush in my carry on, which was very convenient.
Take a mobile you can use through your trip, don’t plan to organise one when you get to your host country
I know that there are ways around not having your mobile, there are payphones at the airport and wireless internet (that kept cutting out), but having a phone in the case of an emergency will make solving the emergency that much easier- even if you just turn international roaming on and only use it if you really have to. I was lucky enough that dad stayed up all night trying to come up with a plan B with the travel agent, while I tried to sort things out from LA. Having a phone to be able to easily keep each other updated was very handy, and if I didn’t have dad there to help, it would have been useful to have a number for the travel agent to contact me. (Also remember your charger cord and an adaptor for the country you will be in as chargers aren’t always easy to find.
But I am in Regina now, jetlagged and without a suitcase but I am glad to finally be here. It’s been a stressful few days, mainly because of my lack of sleep but things are starting to look up now! I’ve met a few girls who are really nice, but hopefully everyone will start to come out of their rooms more when everyone has settled in. I’ll check back in when classes have started!