Considering that I have completed my first international flight reasonably incident free, here are a few tips that every Indian should keep in mind whenever undertaking an international journey –
1. Always call up either the Airport Help Line or the Airline Help Desk to get details regarding whether your flight is on time or delayed. Considering that you are anyways going to the airport at least 3 hrs before the scheduled departure of the flight, this step will surely save you a reasonable amount of heartburn because of waiting in the airport lounge. I personally didn’t do this and ended up spending around 6 hours in the Hyderabad Airport Waiting Lounge.
2. Always ensure that you have that one hand baggage with you which must include your flight tickets, travel documents, and a good clean pair of clothes including under-garments. I personally didn’t include the clothes and ended up in a reasonable mess considering that my luggage didn’t quite make it to the connecting flight at Frankfurt. I ended up spending more than 48 hours in the same dirty clothes. Lucky that I didn’t have to actually go into office, considering that I landed in the US on a Saturday afternoon.
3. Always try and make pre-arrangements for travel between the airport and your residence/hotel. Alternatively most of the US airports have helpful Information Desks where one can get information regarding taxis, public transport facilities, etc. At San Francisco, you always have the Bay Area Rapid Transport, BART, which is more than good enough for travel from the airport to pretty much a 60 mile radius.
4. Try and travel as light as you can, considering that most countries other than India will not have any system of coolies or porters to help you out with your luggage at the airport or any other public places.
I guess these are sufficient basic pointers for any first time international traveller.