For people who are flying for the first time, it can be an anxious and exciting experience. There are people who are afraid of flying and there are people who love to fly. Whatever the case, it’s essential to know about airport procedures and airline regulations to ensure a smooth trip. Here’s a survival guide for first-time flyers.
Parking and Arrival
For people who are driving to the airport, it’s important to know about the location of the airport, the facilities provided, and parking costs. Depending on the distance to the airport, it’s highly recommended to allocate ample time to drive to the airport. Sometimes, you may forget a certain document so there should be enough time for such problems. Arriving at the airport two or three hours before departure is about right. Most airports have separate parking lots for daily, short term, and long term parking for travelers who drive their own cars. If you are picking up or dropping off somebody at the airport, you should go to daily parking.
Once you arrive at the airport, go to the schedule board to find information about the flight. Then, you will know the counter where you are to check-in. Do not assume that you may skip the check-in procedure if you have no luggage for checking-in. After checking-in, you will be given a boarding pass with the seat number and gate number where you are to board the plane. It’s highly recommended that you consider all these things plus the time taken to pass immigration if you are going to another country.
Around the Airport
In every airport, there are various counters, regions, and terminals where there are shops, restaurants, currency exchange counters, car rentals, and so on. If you have some extra time, you may have a meal or do some shopping. To board the flight, you have to go through security to enter the departure area where you will be boarding the flight at the designated gate. The gate refers to the walkway to the airplane so make sure you are at the right gate at least 30 minutes before departure. Only airline passengers and authorized personnel are allowed in the departure area. Once you get into the departure terminal, it’s troublesome to get out again so make sure you have everything with you. Never leave your bags unattended and never take anything from a stranger.
- World Airport Codes: Come here to search for information about airports around the world.
- Airport Search: A tool to help users find airports.
- Flight Delay: The FAA provides information on flight delays across the country.
- FAQs: Read answers to frequently asked questions about arrivals and departures.
- First Time Flyers: Basic information for passengers who are flying for the first time.
Security is a major concern and complications can be avoided if you take precautions. Firearms, illegal drugs, explosives, weapons, and other dangerous items are not allowed on the plane. As you are going through the gates, you will be scanned for metal objects. Sharp metal objects would be confiscated. Laptops, mobiles, and carry-on baggage will be scanned too. At this point, you will have to present your boarding pass and other relevant documents. Previously, liquid gel was not allowed in carry-on baggage. Now, it’s permitted with restrictions on quantity and packaging. Pack such items in small packets to prevent delay in screening at the gate. The passenger should know the policies of the selected airline in case a flight is delayed or if a flight is cancelled. If your luggage is lost, you can file a complaint and the airline will investigate into the matter. First-time flyers should be aware of the rights and regulations at the airport.
What to Bring/What Not to Bring
When packing, it’s a good idea to bring only the necessary things in accordance to the duration and purpose of the trip. There are restrictions on the size and weight of checked bags and carry-on baggage. If the checked bag exceeds the maximum weight, there would be a fine. Carry-on baggage refers to the bags which you are carrying on board the airplane. There’s also a maximum weight and size for carry-on baggage so make sure the bags comply with these regulations. Other than a handbag and laptop, each passenger is allowed to carry one carry-on bag. Some of the useful items to bring on board are checks, pens, passport, ID, official documents, books, personal items, snacks, and medication.
On Board Etiquette and Activities
Flight can last anywhere from less than hour to 17 hours so it’s essential to maintain on-board etiquette for an enjoyable flight. For most of the journey, you would be in your assigned seat. If you have to pass another passenger to get out of your seat, politely ask for permission. For people who need to get out of their seat more frequently, they should opt for an aisle seat rather than a window seat. Don’t talk loudly in the plane because there are other passengers in the plane. Most airplanes have some in-flight entertainment like music, movies, games, magazines, and so on. Many passengers like to read a book but you can easily bring your own entertainment like MP3 players, cards, portable game consoles, and so on.
Traveling with Kids
Traveling with kids is a major challenge, especially on longer flights. Unlike older folks, kids are generally too excited when they are flying so they might be awake more than necessary. The most important thing is to keep them occupied. Bring their favorite games, books, and snacks to keep them happy. If the child is flying alone, the airline would assign a flight attendant to escort him or her. Parents should tell the child not to wander away from the attendant in the airport and never to follow a stranger for any reason. Many airlines do not allow kids below seven years to travel alone, and for connection flights, kids should be more than 15.