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I will be getting my yoga certification in Fiji this September. I have never flown alone internationally, and I am a bit anxious about finding my way through airports, customs, baggage claims, and all the other logistics involved in traveling out of the country. After researching it for a bit and trying to find advice, I have found that all airports and places are different and not all of the information that I found can be applied to my specific circumstance. I guess all I can do is give my travel details and hope someone can inform me on things I should know and the possible order of procedures that will take place while traveling from airport to airport.

I have 3 connecting flights to get from Chicago, Illinois to Savusavu, Fiji. My first plane leaves out of Chicago and lands in LA, California. Second plane goes from LA to Nadi, Fiji. From the Nadi Airport, I need to get on another smaller plane to fly again and land at the Savusavu airport. I have my passport so that is one thing out of the way. I was told that I don't need to obtain a visa prior to leaving, and instead the airport in Fiji will stamp my passport with a 4-month tourist visa (whatever that means). For the trip back to Chicago, I have 3 connecting flights again all landing and transferring at the same airports.

Alright, that is all of the info I can think of, but now I have specific questions that I would be so grateful to get some answers and insight on. If you could explain and answer in detailed steps I would be even more thankful. I don't have anxiety about flying, just about all of the details and timing and order of what happens when and where. Some of these may seem like stupid questions, but cut me some slack. I'm a newbie.

  1. My first question is regarding checking into my flights. I will arrive at the Chicago Airport 2 hours early to go through security and everything, but I am confused as to where to get my tickets. Do I check in online prior to getting to the airport? When I get my ticket for the plane leaving Chicago, is that where I will give them my bags?

  2. Since I have 3 connecting flights, will I be getting all of those tickets while checking in for my flight leaving Chicago, or will I have to obtain the other tickets for the connecting flights each time I land at a new airport? (not sure if that question made sense).

  3. Will they transfer my bags from flight to flight for me, or do I have to go to the baggage claim after each flight and recheck my bags?

  4. When and where would they check my passport and give me my tourist visa stamp? I am most nervous about this because I would really like to get back into the U.S. I am not sure if I will have to find a specific person to stamp it for me or if it will be part of going through customs.

  5. Some people have said that customs won't happen until I land in Fiji. Is that true, and if so, does that mean that on my trip back I won't have to go through customs again until I land in the U.S.?

  6. I am very nervous about flight cancelations or delays. What would/should I do if I were to land someplace and find out that my next flight is delayed or canceled?

  7. I am also aware that with that many connecting flights involved, my luggage may get lost. What do I do in that circumstance?

  8. Lastly, this has nothing to do with flights, but what would be the best way to convert some of my money into Fijian dollars prior to landing in Fiji. I heard that a lot of the places in Savusavu only accept cash, plus I need cash for the cab ride from the airport to the resort.

I know that I show up for my flight, go through security, find my gate, get on my plane, get off my plane, and then somehow find the next gate for the next plane. I just need help filling in the blanks as far and where and when other procedures need to take place during layovers.

I know this was long and probably confusing at times, but your attempt to help me out and give me some insight would be so greatly appreciated!

  • In the general case, currency exchange is covered here. In short, visit an ATM when you arrive. – Michael Hampton Aug 10 '16 at 21:13
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    Did you make the booking through to Savusavu via one booking, or did you book Chicago to Nadi separately from booking the Nadi to Savusavu leg? This will affect when you will see your bags and what you need to do with them. Also I'd be suspicious of only arriving at Chicago 2 hours before your flight. I've no experience there but at other airports that would not be enough time (depending on the time of day). I just saw that TSA recommends 3 hours at Chicago. – Peter M Aug 10 '16 at 21:55
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  1. [checking in] When you arrive at the Chicago airport, go to the checkin desk for your airline. There, they will verify your identification and give you one or more boarding passes. Hang on to these, you don't want to lose them.

  2. [boarding passes] In Chicago you will probably get all the boarding passes you need to get to your destination, but maybe not. Ask if you are unsure.

  3. [bags checked through] Your bags are likely to be "checked through" to your destination (at least to Nadi). When your bags are tagged, they will have the destination airport code printed on the tags (the code for Nadi is NAN). Check this if you are unsure, and ask the agent if it's still not clear. Note that on return to the US, you will have to collect your bags at your first port of entry (Los Angeles), go through immigration and customs, and then re-check them to Chicago. This will be clearly indicated through signs, or ask any airport staff. A lot of other people will be doing a very similar thing.

  4. [who stamps] When you arrive in Fiji, you will go through two checks: (1) immigration, and (2) customs. Immigration is checking whether you can enter Fiji, and customs is checking whether your stuff can enter Fiji. You will get a stamp in your passport from immigration. It will be impossible to miss getting this stamp. (This stamp has nothing to do with allowing your return to the US, it's to allow your stay in Fiji.)

  5. [exit checks] Fiji has exit checks. You will interact with immigration and/or customs officials both on entering and leaving Fiji.

  6. [cancellations] If any flight is cancelled or delayed, talk to the airline staff for that flight. Either you wait, or if it's too long (like overnight) they'll arrange a hotel for you.

  7. [lost luggage] If your bags get lost, talk to the airline staff for the flight you just took. There's a "lost luggage" office or desk somewhere at every baggage claim area. If in doubt, ask any airport staff.

  8. [cash] You can buy Fijian cash from your bank or other foreign exchange service before you leave if you want. If you have an ATM card, you can probably use it overseas to withdraw cash. Tell your bank before you leave that you will be in Fiji, so they don't block your card. There's probably an ATM at the airport that you can use. Verify with your bank that your ATM card will work overseas.

  • I'd clarify that for #2 it depends if the entire flight ORD->LAX->NAN->SVU is all one booking or multiple bookings (which will also affect what happens in #3). And for #3 that the order on return to LAX is Immigration->Pickup Bags->Customs, – Peter M Aug 10 '16 at 21:52

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