So you’ve booked your first trip via airplane and now you don’t know what to expect, right? Well, I can help you with that! First things first… calm down and take a deep breath! Flying is a breeze and there’s nothing to worry about! You’ve got this!
Secure Your Travel Documentation
In order to board your flight you’re going to need various travel documents like a driver’s license or a passport. Personally, I like to put my passport in my personal bag I take on the plane months in advance. One of my biggest fears is not having my passport when I arrive at the airport. It’s also a good idea to print your airline and hotel confirmations. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Verify Baggage Information
The first time I had ever planned a group trip, I didn’t realize that airlines had started charging for checked luggage and I didn’t account for that cost. Many airlines charge for checked luggage and carry-on bags, so before you head to the airport make sure you know what to expect when it comes to baggage restrictions and costs. Skyscanner.com has a great feature where you can find baggage restrictions and fees here.
I cannot stress this enough. Flying takes a lot of patience. There are lines EVERYWHERE, lines at the check-in desk, lines in the security line, lines to board your plane. Remember that everyone at the airport has the same goal… and that’s to get to their destination. If you find yourself stuck in line at any point, take a deep breath and remind yourself to be patient. You’ll get to your destination, don’t worry.
As I mentioned previously, there are lines everywhere at the airport so ensure you arrive early so that you don’t run the risk of missing your flight. Some airports like Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare, are known for having long lines to get through security. Even after arriving early, I’ve come VERY close to missing my flight at these airports due to the long lines ( this, prompted me to get TSA pre-check cuz I ain’t missing no flights honey).
Here is the method I use:
- If I’m not checking a bag, I arrive an hour early
- If I’m checking a bag, I arrive 90 minutes early
- If I’m traveling internationally, I arrive two hours early
This method has yet to fail me!
Note: Many airports provide information on their website regarding wait times at the security checkpoint.
When you arrive at the airport the first thing you should do is check-in at the airline desk, so that you can get the documentation you may need, like boarding passes. This is a better method than checking in at the Skycap because you’ll be able to ask specific questions pertaining to your flight as well as get any updates.
Note: download the app for the airline you’ll be flying with so that you can obtain an electronic copy of your boarding pass. This lessens the amount of paperwork and documentation you have to carry in your hand.
Go Through Security
When going through security remember that there may be lines, so please be patient. Be sure to bring socks, you will have to take your shoes off and it’s disgusting to put your bare feet on airport floors. Be sure to pay close attention to the direction of the TSA Agents and things will go smoothly!
Note: If you see the TSA Agents with their dogs, this indicates that you don’t have to take your shoes off!
Head to Your Gate
Once you get through security, before you run to the bathroom or grab a bit to eat, head to your gate so that you know exactly where you are going. There will be large screens throughout the airport that air flight information, including gate information and departure status. Take a minute to check the screens to ensure your gate Hassan not been changed.
Note: many airports are going silent and are not announcing gate changes and updated flight information over the intercom. Be sure to check the status of your flight via the airline app or flight status screens throughout the airport.
It’s Time to Board
Planes are boarded by zone, you can find your zone on your boarding pass. Once you board the flight, look for your seat number. You’ll find it right below the overhead bin. Once you’ve found your seat be sure to quickly put your personal items away as others are still trying to find their seat and get settled, you could be holding them up.
On the Plane
When flying, due to the change in atmospheric pressure, your ears will pop. It’s not really painful, but it is pretty uncomfortable. To avoid the discomfort of ear popping you can do things like, chew gum, use filtered ear plugs, or taking a decongestant. Additional tips can be found on the Mayo Clinic website
Flight attendants will come around offering complimentary snacks and beverages (depending on the airline). If you’re feeling a bit fancy or want a little more than pretzels and peanuts, many airlines offer other menu items at an additional cost. Cash is not accepted, so be sure to have your credit/debit card handy.
Happy travels… and congratulations on getting your wings!