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I have several questions about returning to the US from India as it's my first time flying internationally alone. I booked tickets on United Airlines' website. I would travel with both Air India and United Airlines. My flight with Air India is within the country, and I have a layover at DEL. I would first travel from BLR to DEL via Air India and then DEL to the US via United.

I'm confused because United Airlines only sent me a receipt for my purchase. I'm not sure of how I would obtain my boarding pass.

  • Will they not let me in the airport without a boarding pass? I would board at BLR, and I was thinking about getting the boarding pass at the airport itself instead of printing it.
  • Would I go to the Air India counter or the United Airlines counter when I arrive at BLR? If I go to the Air India counter, would they be able to give me both of my boarding passes?
  • Would a US passport suffice for domestic travel in India?
  • When looking at the allowed luggage dimensions and weights, should I look at the ones for Air India or United Airlines?
  • Is there a way I can find out the gate I will arrive at in advance?
  • Is it okay if my carry-on bag does not close? I.e. it has a clasp, but it does not have a zipper and the inside contents are visible
  • Will my carry-on luggage need tags or should I add an identifying sticker?
  • How can I access my boarding pass to print it out?

I apologize for all of the dumb questions. Thanks!

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    Just to confirm - did you book both flights together through United, and they both appear under the same booking reference?
    – brhans
    May 25 at 17:05
  • Yes, I booked both flights through united. I received an email receipt with both flights on it. Sorry, I am not sure if they are on the same booking reference? How would I find out that they are?
    – repat
    May 26 at 12:27

2 Answers 2

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I'm confused because United Airlines only sent me a receipt for my purchase. I'm not sure of how I would obtain my boarding pass.

When the check-in window opens they'll send you an email with the link to check in. You can also go to their website with the reservation confirmation number (six-letters alphanumerical code) and find the "Check in" page. Since you have an Air India flight as your first leg, you may need to check in with them, and the reservation number may be different, so check the email carefully.

Will they not let me in the airport without a boarding pass? I would board at BLR, and I was thinking about getting the boarding pass at the airport itself instead of printing it.

You don't need boarding pass to go into the airport, and you can definitely print it there at the check-in counter or self service kiosks (if available). You do need the boarding pass to go through the airport security to the gates (what's called "airside").

Boarding passes are usually generated during the check-in process, within the 24-48 hours prior to the flight.

Would I go to the Air India counter or the United Airlines counter when I arrive at BLR? If I go to the Air India counter, would they be able to give me both of my boarding passes?

Air India, since that's who you're flying with. If both flights are on the same reservation, they will give you both the boarding passes, but you might still exchange it with the United-printed boarding pass in DEL (they'll tell you there, DEL, if you do, United does sometimes replace others' passes with their own on connections).

Would a US passport suffice for domestic travel in India?

I think so, I flew with my non-Indian passport within India with no problems.

When looking at the allowed luggage dimensions and weights, should I look at the ones for Air India or United Airlines?

It should be stated in the reservation confirmation that you got what the allowed baggage is. The dimensions and weights are usually the same across the airlines (but may differ between the ticket classes and your status - business class for example may sometime get higher weight allowances).

Is there a way I can find out the gate I will arrive at in advance?

Gates are usually assigned close to the flight, usually when you check-in the gate will be assigned - but not always, and it may be changed. When you're checking in the BLR gate may be assigned, but DEL may not yet be (since it's a later flight). Better check at the airport when you're there.

Is it okay if my carry-on bag does not close? I.e. it has a clasp, but it does not have a zipper and the inside contents are visible

Will stuff fall out of it during turbulence? As long as stuff doesn't fly out around the cabin when the plain shakes a bit you should be fine, but check with the gate agents to be sure. To be even more sure, bring a carry-on bag that does close securely.

Will my carry-on luggage need tags or should I add an identifying sticker?

Should? Yes. Need? No.

How can I access my boarding pass to print it out?

Depending where you're getting it. If you check-in at home, you'll get a PDF or a link in your email, if at the airport - they'll print it for you. Many airlines also allow mobile boarding passes (electronic QR code on your phone). Check with the airlines.

And don't worry, you've got this. Check-in agents and gate agents are there to help you if you are not sure what to do or where to go, and airport signs are usually very clear, and very similar in all the airports across the world.

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  • United Airlines doesn't even serve BLR currently (they're planning to start service to SFO in October), so the OP probably won't even have an option to "go to the United Airlines counter" when they arrive there. May 25 at 17:42
  • Thank you very much. This is so helpful. I have several more questions based on what you have mentioned here: Could you elaborate on what you mean by "if both flights are on the same reservation" and also what you mean by "reservation confirmation?"
    – repat
    May 26 at 12:31
  • I have a question about vaccinations: If I get my negative vaccination test on June 2nd and the first leg of my flight is on June 3rd, but the second leg of the flight is early morning of June 4th to the US, will it be an issue? I guess my question is if the process of checking at my layover will be extensive as well. Is it mandatory to check in 24-48 hours online prior to arriving at the airport, or is that optional?
    – repat
    May 26 at 12:35
  • @repat you should ask this as a new separate question - but the short answer is that this should be fine. The US COVID entry test requirement is that you get your negative test result no earlier than the day before the start of the 1st leg of your journey. I recently did exactly that when flying from South Africa to the USA via London - tested in SA the day before the 1st flight.
    – brhans
    May 26 at 12:47
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    I don't know, never flew through DEL. But why does it matter to you? Maybe it will be the same process (you may even need to go to the United counter to get a new boarding pass from them and go through their security process). Maybe not and you'll just follow the "Connections" sign straight into the boarding area of the outgoing flights.
    – littleadv
    May 28 at 7:26
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Adding just some details:
In India, some (all?) airports have outside security that only let you enter if you have proof of being a passenger. This can a paper boarding pass, but it can also be an electronic boarding pass, an electronic ticket, or the simple confirmation email from the airline (yes, that would be easy to fake, but I guess the people they are worried about don't have the means to create such a fake).

Luggage: the operating airline of your first leg defines the size and weight limits. So don't look at United, but whoever operates the first hop you fly.

Gates: For international flights, both departure and arrival gates are typically published only on short notice, for security reasons. But why would you care? You'll have plenty of time to find out once inside the airport, and nobody can meet you at the arrival gate anyway.

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  • "the operating airline of your first leg defines the size and weight limits": in my experience this is not the case, or at least domestic flights typically take into account intercontinental limits for passengers connecting to intercontinental flights, even if they're operated by a separate airline, if the itinerary was booked together.
    – phoog
    May 26 at 16:41
  • No one would be able to meet me at the arrival gate? I was told that I would be able to be picked up from there
    – repat
    May 27 at 1:24
  • Only travelers with a boarding pass are allowed in the gate area (=behind TSA security checks). Unless you have special needs like someone pushing your wheelchair or carrying your bag (or you are below 14 or so), whoever wants to pick you up will be required to wait before the TSA secured area. It is easy to walk there, just follow 'exit' signs (or all other people- they all want to go there)
    – Aganju
    May 27 at 1:30
  • Do you know if I would have to go through additional security checks at my layover in DEL? Would it be the same process as the first leg of my flight? Thanks.
    – repat
    May 28 at 7:19
  • Do you know if I would have to pick up my checked in luggage at DEL since I would be flying with a different airline carrier? Thank you.
    – repat
    May 28 at 13:23

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