Mumbai - Departure from the International Airport

Nightime safety

Most international flights leave between midnight and dawn, but this is not a particularly good time to be traveling through Mumbai, particularly if you are alone or female. Consider spending your waiting time at a large hotel near the airport, like the Leela Kempinski Hotel. The Leela Kempinski has several fine restaurants, a 24-hour coffee shop and a comfortable lounge area. Find the bell captain and ask to leave your luggage with him temporarily. There is a small charge per bag for this service. Be sure to obtain a receipt. A bus is available to the airport.

See Mumbai - Local Transportation for additional means of getting to the International Airport.

Checking in

Check with your airline to find out how early you must report for your flight. Since many airlines overbook flights, it's a good idea to check in very early, to ensure that you get a seat.

Free luggage trolleys are available inside the departure lounge. However, for security reasons, there are no porters to carry your luggage into the departure lounges. There are non-official porters who may try to assist you. If you do use them, be careful. They may try to pilfer your baggage. Suggested tip - no more than 3-5 rupees per bag.

Before checking in on Air India flights, you must pay the airport departure tax at the State Bank of India counter. For other airlines, you pay the tax when checking in. When you check your luggage for the flight, make sure you receive and keep your baggage claim stubs and boarding pass in a safe place. The airline official will also hand you a pink disembarkation card. "Port of disembarkation" on the card refers to the city where your flight terminates. (If you are taking a number of connecting flights, write the name of the city where the first flight lands.) If you have any bulky T.B.R.E. items in your checked luggage, ask the airlines official to mark the luggage for customs to check later.

Currency exchange

You'll find several currency exchange counters in the departure section of the airport. You'll have to exchange any unspent rupees back into your own country's currency before passing through customs, since Indian currency cannot leave the country.

The lines at the currency exchange counter are usually quite long, so allow yourself plenty of time for this step. Before exchanging money, make sure you've paid the airport tax or have set aside enough money for it and any snacks you'll need before boarding. Make sure also that you have receipts to cover the amount of money you are exchanging. For example, if you are changing Rs. 300 back into dollars, you must submit receipts from a bank or currency exchange totaling Rs. 300.

Indian Immigration and Customs

An hour or so before flight time, the passengers on your flight will be called to pass through the immigration checkpoint. Have your passport and disembarkation card ready for checking. After this, you'll enter the customs area where customs documents (such as the currency declaration or T.B.R.E. forms), if applicable, will be checked. Once you have cleared customs, you'll pass through a security check and into another waiting room until your flight leaves.

The entire process of checking in and passing through immigration and customs can be long and tiring, especially if your flight is delayed for any reason. You have a long trip ahead of you, so take it easy.

Arrival in the West

After your flight reaches home, you'll pass through your own country's customs checkpoint. Western countries differ in the amount of goods they allow imported duty-free. Keep receipts for any expensive items you've purchased in India. Most countries will allow you to make an oral declaration of the items you've acquired if they fall within the duty-free amount.

Certain food, plant, or animal products are restricted, and foreign articles purchased abroad are liable for duty each time you bring them into the U.S. unless you can prove that you've owned them before. (Proof can consist of a sales receipt, insurance policy, appraisal, or certificate of registration obtained before you leave.)

And back again...