Posts Tagged ‘Passport’

My Guide to EasyJet

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

In the spirit of the holidays, I have decided to gift something travel-related:
My Guide to EasyJet.
Keep in mind, most of this can be found on the EasyJet website , but I find that websites can be cumbersome: everything that is relevant to you is mixed in with superfluous information that’s totally extraneous. So, here are the things that I think are important to know when traveling with Easy Jet. As a preface, I can’t really stress how much I prefer EasyJet to RyanAir. Although RyanAir has some really great deals, I find that their advertised “£5” fares actually end up being £40+ when you add in taxes, fees, etc. With EasyJet, I hop online and the advertised fee is what I actually pay. Additionally, EasyJet flies into major airports. If you take the time to peruse RyanAir’s website, you’ll see that you typically don’t fly into the city. Rather you fly 45 minutes to an hour outside of the city and then you’re bused in (for a fee, of course). All in all, I prefer paying a few extra dollars (or pounds, as it were) for convenience and time-saving. You are on vacation, after all and dealing with the headaches that come with travel are something you can probably do without.

Your Guide to EasyJet

When to Arrive:

This is relatively standard across airlines, but arrive 60 minutes early for domestic flights and 90 – 120 minutes early for international flights.

Where does EasyJet fly out of [from London]?

From London, you can fly out of Gatwick, Luton or Stansted airports. Just some info on the locations of these (since I had no idea where they were in relation to one another):

Gatwick is about 28 miles south of London; if you’re GPSing it, use postcodes RH6 0NP (South Terminal) or RH6 0PJ (North Terminal)
–  Luton is about 32 miles from London (North, I think!); if you’re using GPS for this one, use the code LU2 9QT
Stansted is in Essex about 36 miles Northeast-ish from Central London; use postcode CM24 1RW

I would recommend flying out of Gatwick unless it’s significantly cheaper to leave from the other two.

What’s the best way to get to the airport?

You can, of course, get to the airport via taxi, car, bus or train, but let’s look at the most efficient and cost-effective ways to get there: EasyBus or the Express. EasyBus leaves from Central London and goes to Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton airports so regardless of where you’re flying out of, you’re well covered. Prices vary, but you’re looking at between £2 and £9 each way.

– If you’re flying out of Gatwick, the EasyBus pick up is at Fulham Broadway, which can be reached by tube.
– If you’re flying out of Stansted, the pick-up points are Victoria, near stop 6 or at Gloucester Place, near the Baker Street tube
– If you’re flying out of Luton, there are multiple pick-up points:  Brent Cross, Finchley Road Underground, Marble Arch (near the tube), Victoria or Gloucester Place

{The tube works great for getting around within London to find your EasyBus pick-up point if you don’t live close to one!}

The Gatwick Express is also an option, albeit a more expensive one. It leaves from Victoria station and it takes roughly 30 minutes to get to the airport; if it’s like the Heathrow Express, it’s comfortable and convenient. Count on your wallet being about £14 – £16 lighter.

What kind of luggage am I allowed?

Not much, I’m afraid. You’re allowed one piece of hand luggage (a carry-on) that can measure no more than 55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm. On the bright side, there is no weight maximum, so you can load that bad boy up! Keep in mind, this is not British Airways: you don’t get a carry-on plus a personal item. You get one item. If you’re taking a real carry-on, your purse, briefcase or laptop case has to stay at home or it must fit inside of your luggage. The only additional things you can carry-on are:

a) one of the following: an umbrella, an overcoat or a shawl and
b) one standard size bag of goods purchased at the airport

If you need more than one carry-on (like in the case of my Maltese excursion), you can opt to pay a fee and take some extras with you. It’ll run you £18 for a checked bag which has a maximum weight of 20 kg (44 or so pounds). Do not go overweight on this! Every 3 kg of ‘extra weight’ (on top of the 20 kg that you’re allowed) will run you £42. I’m not kidding. Best plan of attack: put your heavy stuff in your carry-on and the bulky stuff in your checked baggage. I have yet to find size restrictions on checked luggage, but I’m taking a pretty large, full-sized suitcase! I’ll let you guys know if I have issues; I’ve never checked baggage before with EasyJet!

How do I change a flight, a passenger name or cancel a flight?

You can cancel a flight within 24 hours of making the original booking for a refund (excluding transaction/administrative fees). You have to call in to cancel (0871 244 2366; costs 10p per minute). After the 24 hour period, your flight fees won’t be refunded. You can purchase insurance for £25.

If you’re looking at changing a name (essentially signing your flight over to another passenger), there’s a £25 fee, but it can be done online. You can also call in and handle the name change, but either way it has to be done at least two hours prior to the flight.

Things to keep in mind when flying:

* Don’t forget the liquid rule! No more than 3 oz (100 ml) allowed in carry-ons. Believe me, it sucks having your brand new lotions/shampoos, etc confiscated. Double-check to make sure your stuff fits the requirement and that it’s in a plastic bag! If you forget the plastic bag, they’re pretty good about supplying them at the airport.

* Don’t forget your passport! That could possibly be the worst situation ever and it’s one that’s easily avoidable. Make sure you have your passport easily accessible but safely stored. I usually keep mine in my laptop case or purse in a zipper pocket. Losing your passport is more awful than forgetting it!

* Try to have some relevant currency. Luckily it’s 2009 and major cards are widely accepted, but it’s always nice to have some cash available just in case! I like to keep a mini stash of euros at home because it’s such a useful currency. I like to have 30 – 50 euros with me just in case we need a cab, bus ticket or in the off-chance that an ATM isn’t functioning. I find that being prepared reduces the headaches. Lots of banks will hook you up with a bit of relevant travel money if you pop in before your trip.

Hope that guide helps someone out there somewhere! That’s most of the information that I’ve ever found myself needing! If I think of anything else that is potentially useful, I’ll add it to the list.

Happy travels,

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I’ll take a copy of that, please!

travel documentsAs I was puttering around the house yesterday, I was flip-flopping between shopping online for new cool weather clothing and making a list of documents that I would need to carry with me whilst on my impending excursion. I recall fairly vividly a communications class that I endured wherein a student did a presentation on documents that one should keep copies of, in case of an emergency. I made a list for myself and will be making copies this week: one copy for myself and one copy to leave for my parents (so they have information to reference in the off chance that my originals AND my copies go missing!)

I will be making copies of my passport, my visa and my California driver’s license. Although I will have to carry the originals with me, a second copy is going to go in my checked baggage for two reasons: 1) if the luggage is lost, there is identification and information that links the items to me, specifically; 2) if any of the almighty identification documents go missing at any point, I have a copy to reference. The copy does not serve the same purpose as the original, of course, but keeping a copy can never hurt (in case it needs to be referenced).

Also, I will be keeping a copy of necessary paperwork (of which I will also carry the original): my acceptance letter from LSE, my visa letter awarded by LSE, my loan guarantee form provided by my lender, my HSBC account information to show the bank upon arrival and open an account, and a list of emergency contacts. If I were taking prescription medication, I would likely keep a list of this with me as well, along with the side of effects of said meds. As I don’t take any as of now, this will be one less thing to think about.

Now that I have been wielding the limitless powers of the iPhone, I have been downloading some very cool and handy apps (see yesterday’s post!) As luck would have it, I ran across one of the handiest apps ever, Evernote. The program works in a few different capacities and it’s an all-around handy tool if you use it properly. You can download the desktop versionof Evernote, access the Evernote website and download the iPhone Evernote app. It’s essentially an archive-type software where you can create “notes” on information you would like to access; the notes can take the form of written text, voice notes, photographs, PDFs, etc. (The upgraded version, which costs $5 per month, allows all different types of file formats, whereas the free version is limited to some basic types – PDF & JPG… still great!) 

I bring this up for a very important reason: I use this app to keep my important documentation with me at all times! Through the Evernote website, I created a free account where I uploaded scans of my passport, my ID, my flight information, my HSBC account and my LSE acceptance letters. Now, since it syncs automatically, on my phone (where the Evernote app is installed) I can access all of this information with a swift click! Voila!

For people that are looking for something slightly more sophisticated, I also ran across a website called My Online Safe, a more sophisticated, password protected archive system. It’s $49 for the year and you can keep scans of all of your important documentation. If you have an internet connection and a printer, you can print out all of these goodies in flash! I personally like Evernote, due to the fact that it’s free and it serves essentially the same functions, but I can definitely see the benefits of My Online Safe!

Also, on a side note, I paid for and printed out my visa application and have scheduled a biometrics appointment for this week! I feel like the final pieces of the puzzle are coming together, which is such a relief. I’m waiting on a piece of documentation from my lender that states that the loan money that I have been awarded is guaranteed. Once that official paperwork arrives, it will be shipped out in an envelope along with my filled out application, my biometric scan information, my official LSE acceptance and Visa letter and  my undergraduate transcripts, and — provided everything goes as planned — I should be awarded my visa within 15 days of applying! Such a relief to have all of this paperwork out of the way!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Oh Student Visa of Mine…

passport

Oh, the visa process…. so not fun. After going through all the steps involved, it really makes me wonder how so many people end up studying overseas each year. I would think most people would give up half way through! They have made the process a little bit easier in applying for a visa, though. You can fill out the application online, and provide the necessary supporting documents via mail. The online application is fairly simple, although there are a quite a few questions: things like your name, DOB, address, address while in the UK, institution of study, your reasons for choosing the UK, criminal history, etc. are submitted within this process.

For students, your university should provide a visa letter for you, outlining your course of study and noting that you are eligible for a visa from their perspective. After you have secured your visa letter, you also need to pay the visa application/processing fee, around 145 GBP ($235), depending on your intent and length of study. Lastly, they need to ensure that you have the funds to pay for your stay while in the UK. For me, this equates to the cost of tuition (14,192 GBP) + cost of living. Cost of living is estimated based on where you will be living (they require a greater amount of accessible funds for those living in London) and the length of your stay. In my case, this is about 9000 GBP. You need to have these funds in your account for 28 days prior to the visa OR have a recipe that the items are paid, per the institution. The visa process is a points-based system now: you need 40 points total, basically. You get 30 points for your visa letter and 10 points for the funding. If you’re missing either component, it’s a no-go.

Also, they’ve implemented this biometric scan requirement, a fairly quick process, but you do have to find the closest center to your hometown (mine is San Francisco, CA). It takes five to ten minutes, in which they scan your fingerprints and take a digital picture to keep on file. The reasons behind this are two-fold: 1) to keep students safe from identity theft, and 2) to help keep terrorism and crime at bay.

According to the information on processing times, most student visas are processed in 10 days (92%) and 100% of visas are processed within 15 days — pretty quick once you get all of the relevant information in! Now, it doesn’t sound hard, but it’s a little tedious. The main problem is that all of the separate components are not in your hands: you have to wait for your loans to be processed (by a third-party), then you have to wait for your institution to actually go through the loans and take disbursements (per the school’s own time line). You also have to wait to receive your letter (up to 28 days since it’s coming from overseas) and you have to make sure the money is in your account for the required time.

Also, as one of my student friends recently discovered, they require that you send in your ACTUAL PASSPORT. They don’t want a copy of it, they want the physical passport so they can put your visa inside and send it back. If you don’t send it in, it will defintiely delay the process.

In any case, I’m still waiting for my visa letter and waiting for the school to actually PULL the approved funding…

Hopefully all of this will be under control by August! Grrr…

Talk to you guys later!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

 For some awesome visa information, check out this great site!