I'm not going to mislead you. Traveling to India was a challenge. Traveling to any new place can be a challenge I think....but there are certain factors that can make one destination worse than the others.
I found the trip from Dubai to India to be more than challenging. I'll give you a list of reasons why here in a bit.
But in general, when the airport is chaotic, crowded and difficult to navigate, that can make things challenging. When the check-in agent doesn't know what yo do with your US passport because you're the only Americans on the flight and likely the only Americans that he's encountered in the past 3 months, that makes this challenging...and unnerving.
If you're traveling with people that ask a million questions or are complaining about every step in the process.....that is the cherry on top of the challenging sundae of travel life. I have more general comments about things that can really make for a difficult traveling experience but this post isn't about that. It's about the Top Thing I Learned While Traveling to India...specifically so...here goes.
1. You need a Visa.
As an American citizen, you need a visa to get into India. You may obtain an electronic visa but if you're using an credit or debit card that was issued in the US your card will get rejected and you will likely get a fraud notification from your bank. This happened with my Chase debit card and my friend's amex. We had to approve the transaction with the bank and card company before being allowed to proceed. Now....I'm not exactly sure why, but I was told it was because there were several instances of fraud with websites/companies based in India. I'd like to think it was because I have never made such a purchase and the bank was just protecting me. Also, be sure to print a copy of your visa, print everything actually, it just goes over better with the agents when they have a piece of paper instead of look at the info on your smart phone.
2. You need to get to the airport early - everything will be chaotic.
Especially if you're from the US. The check in agents will look at you like you're from another planet. The check in process took us about 45 mins if not longer and they were soooo busy. They made calls, we had to give a blood and urine sample and our SSN.....just kidding. it just seemed like we had to do all that because it took so long. The agents have no idea what to do with your information so they have to call managers and get clearances, etc. Tons of drama and that doesn't even include standing in super long line.
3. People are hella disrespectful to the flight attendants.
I'll make a non-exhaustive list of things a flight attendant does for us as passengers. Traditionally, when a flight attendants speaks to you over the loud speaker, they tell you to be seated, put on your seat belt, stow your belongings, replace the tray table and put your seat back in its upright position. They serve food and refreshments depending on the airline. But in general, they are there for our protection, right? To prep us for an emergency, ask us if we can handle opening the exit row doors, show us how to use the oxygen masks and life preserver vest things too, right?
Well not on IndiGo Airlines. I mean, the flight attendants do all these things but the passengers on that plane were so disrespectful going and coming. They didn't do anything the flight attendants asked them, they stood whenever the spirit moved them, walked down the aisle during the beverage service...the attendants would back the cart up so passengers could get by instead of them waiting for the cart to pass before they got out of their seats. They were loud and rude, one guy was playing loud music videos on his cell phone for him and his two friends that surrounded him. I'm pretty sure one guy was talking on his phone up until the point where the plane was actually taking off. bruh.....I could do without them ever again, thanks. Maybe it was just this flight....idk.
4. You will get stared at.
Blatantly and unapologetically all in your face. Like you've got a third eyeball or something. They will stare and there's nothing you can do about it.
5. The Immigration Line at the New Delhi Airport is ridiculous. You will be there for at least 2 hours, no matter what time of day it is. At 4am in the morning, you will stand in a line for 2 + hours even though its no more than 20 people long. The agents there are slowly sherlock holmes-ing your passport and visa...but more than that the finger printing machines don't work so you have to try it 15 times, they don't really feel like working so they take a break, get up and leave the booth, sip water, check their phone, stretch and chat with each other...then they want to talk to you, laugh and joke at 4 in the morning....but I don't want to talk to you. I want you to give me a stamp and let me live. It's 4 in the morning, sir, and I've just been on a long red-eye flight seated next to a man who likely had whooping cough or SARS and was eyeballing my bag the whole time. Oh and they were all old....so they moved even slower than slow. It was a nightmare.
6. The security in the Delhi Airport is scary.
They carry huge automatic rifles and wear military fatigues. So even if you're annoyed with the immigration line, you better not say anything. You will get hemmed up. This one man was going off about something and they had him surrounded. I dared not express my angst for that long immigration checkpoint line lest I, too, be surrounded my men in full fatigues carrying assault rifles.
7. Security is scary everywhere....they are checking under the hood and in the trunk for bombs.
Security is TIGHT. You will get felt up in the security line. But even when we left the airport and arrived at the hotel, there's a armed, gated checkpoint that you have to go through before entering the hotel's ground. At this checkpoint, more armed military-ish men ask the driver why he's there and then asks him to open the hood and the trunk of the car. Then other fatigue sporting men check under the hood and search the trunk. We didn't find out until later that they were searching the cars for bombs...yes, chile, bombs. Then, before you can enter the hotel, your bags are x-rayed, similar to airport security, and you must walk through a metal detector. Fortunately there's a man standing outside that looks like Jafar from the movie Aladdin for your enjoyment, and perhaps to distract you, who knows. All the security measures make you feel extra safe but they also make me wonder, why the heck do they need all this? Well....its necessary...and that's all I needed to know. Search on.
So that's my list for now.....my next post will be about my disrespectful journey to the Taj Mahal. I've been working on this one for a while. Until next time....