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Advice and suggesti...

Advice and suggestions for someone taking their first flight to the USA


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I'm a 22 year old male who will be taking my first flight to the USA from Heathrow (LON) in November to visit my girlfriend (and I will not be working whilst I'm out there).

I did fly to Spain over a decade ago with my family, however I was young enough and it was so long ago that I don't really remember it at all.

I also flew on a separate passport that was valid whilst I was a child, I will be flying with an ESTA (which I had already arranged and received during lockdown earlier this year) with my first adult UK passport.

I depart from Heathrow and arrive at JFK, and then depart from JFK to PIT (Pittsburgh) with a stopover of 5 hours. I'm hoping 5 hours is enough time to get through customs/immigration so I can then catch my next flight before departure. I have no intention of leaving the aiport at JFK. After 2 weeks, I will then be taking a return flight back to London, which I've already booked in advance.

I also have a PCR test booked within 3 calendar days before my flight as per the entry requirement to the US for UK citizens.

I'm looking for advice/suggestions on what I should do to be best prepared for this. I'm pretty sure I don't have a fear of flying and I'm hoping to sleep through the flight as much as possible.

I've read in other questions that I should print copies of things like my ESTA, my itinerary, etc. in case it's needed during customs. I'm also unsure on whether the current covid situation invalidates some of the older answers over the last several years.

Also, I'm hoping there's people who are willing to help along route if I get confused - or more likely - lost in the airport. I'm feeling pretty anxious that because I'm flying solo for the first time, and at a young age, that people will naturally be less approachable or friendly. As part of this, I've arranged to only take hand luggage on board with me to almost try limit me being a "burden" or causing trouble.

EDIT: Also, I've heard a lot of rumours that US border agents are particuarly "brutal". I've read to just be completely honest (which is what I shall do) but is there anything else I should be aware of when passing through US customs, especially for the first time in JFK, and whether that changes on the 2nd time when I land in PIT.

EDIT 2: I am double vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, and all my flights are on a single ticket. I have also ensured the ticket is flexible so I can change the bookings if necessary, as entry to the US is currently restricted.

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