Getting ready to fly overseas? We've got the answers to some of your most commonly asked airline departure questions.
What travel documents do I need for international travel?
You need a passport and some countries require a minimum validity and/or an entry visa on the passport. Visa restrictions differ for different passports so make sure you allow plenty of time to obtain the correct documentation. Check with your Flight Centre consultant on booking as some airlines will deny boarding if the right documents are not presented.
What is my baggage allowance?
There are two aspects to baggage allowance - checked baggage and hand baggage. Checked baggage allowance for Economy Class is usually 20 kilograms per person to most countries. Exceptions are North and South America, where the allowance is two pieces of 23 kilograms each per person. Hand baggage is restricted to seven kilograms per person. Children have the same allowance as adults. Infants usually don't have a separate baggage allowance.
Travellers in First and Business Class have a more generous allowance. Any excess baggage can be organised prior to travel or at the check-in desk at the airport. Airlines provide for the carriage of sporting equipment; however this differs for each carrier so it's best to check before you leave.
Are there any restrictions to what items can be carried in checked and hand baggage?
Generally, items that are classified as dangerous goods (i.e. may endanger the safety of an aircraft and the passengers onboard) are not permitted in your baggage. Other restrictions you should be aware of include:
- Liquids, aerosols and gels in your hand baggage.
- Number of pieces of hand baggage e.g. the UK has imposed a restriction of one piece of hand baggage per person.
- On arrival, you will be required to declare goods that are considered a threat to that country. There are large fines in place for failing to declare restricted or prohibited goods, so declare it if you are unsure.
- Duty free allowances vary from country to country so please check these prior to departure or at the duty free shop before your purchase.
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority has guidelines and regulations pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods, so if in doubt please check before you travel.
Paper ticket or e-ticket?
These days, e-ticketing is the norm for most airlines but it is always important to check with your Flight Centre consultant at the time of your booking. While an e-ticket means that you no longer have to have a ticket with you, it is important that you carry a printed copy of your e-ticket confirmation as proof of travel for immigration purposes in other countries.
When do I have to pay for my tickets?
Once your travel consultant has made your booking for the dates of your choice the airlines will add a ticketing time limit to the booking. Your booking must be paid for and ticketed prior to this deadline. Ticketing timelines will vary depending on the fare type and, as these are automated through the booking system, any un-ticketed bookings are automatically cancelled by the airline's reservation system.
Are there fees and charges for amendments to bookings?
Depending on the restrictions of the fare, airlines may allow changes. However, this is not as straightforward as revalidating a ticket. Penalties can be imposed for a variety of reasons including changing the name on a ticket, the destination, the date of travel or choice of airline. Some airlines will not reissue a ticket; instead they require issuance of a new ticket and refund of the original ticket.
Will I get a refund if I cancel a ticket?
This too is determined by the rules of the fare, and most restrictive fares are either nonrefundable or have a large cancellation penalty. For partially used tickets, airlines have to assess the value of the remaining sectors and may apply a cancellation penalty as well, which could result in a nil payout. However, airlines may give some consideration for special circumstances.
What type of in flight entertainment can I expect?
Airlines are making significant advances in improving the quality and the quantity of entertainment available onboard their flights. Choosing a carrier with a healthy variety of entertainment can make your long-haul trip much more enjoyable. Most premium airlines offer a personal TV screen in all cabin classes with the option to play games, as well as hundreds of hours worth of audio and video content.