This guidance is based on our own experience at airports. We cannot guarantee that all airports and airport staff will act in the same way.
This post ideally follows our post on Travelling Blind: Boarding the Plane, so we suggest you read that first!
As the flight starts to descend, ready to land, I ensure I have everything I need for immigration to hand. Phone, passport, carry-on luggage, Custom Declaration form…
You will sometimes be required to fill out a Customs Declaration form on the flight or once you have landed. This is just a small form asking you to declare what you might be bringing into the country. If you are travelling alone, a member of the crew can assist in filling these forms out with you.
When the plane has landed, most airlines will advise those needing extra time to wait until most passengers have disembarked the aircraft. The only problem with this is that you might be at the back of the immigration line and can put you behind an hour. Most immigration halls have an accessibility line, but they are usually quite strict. If your disability is not visible, they will question why you are in the queue. Don't feel intimidated, just be honest, and they will let you continue.
Depending on the country and airport, you will either clear immigration through an officer or an electronic gate. Usually, if it is an officer, you will be asked some questions, scan your fingerprints, and have a quick photo taken. The other way is the electronic gates. Here you will need to scan your passport and read the screens explaining when to pass through – not ideal for me!!
You then need to head towards the baggage halls. These halls can vary in size and can be hard work. The carousel number can be announced over a speaker in the immigration/baggage hall, or the carousel number can be found on the screens. If you have asked for assistance, show the person a photo of what your luggage looks like so they can quickly locate it. Alternatively, you can invest in a GPS bag tracker that can connect to an app on your phone. I just let Jade get the bags, and then we head towards the exit.
Some airports have multiple levels, and you can find yourself going up and down looking for the correct exit. Although the signs are usually large and visible, to someone with a visual impairment, they are a struggle. If in doubt always ask. Before you exit, you will have to clear customs. Here, you will need to hand over the customs form and then walk through the doors into the arrivals’ hall. From here, I head towards ground transportation to get into an Uber straight to the hotel.