Flying for the first time can not only be hectic but also a nerve-wracking experience. You don’t know what to expect and if you’re travelling alone, the experience can be a scary one. Not all of us have had the privilege to travel on a plane. So for those of you who are planning to travel long distance on a plane for the very first time, here are some things you should expect:
Apart from your passport and visa, your plane ticket is the second most important thing when travelling by air for the first time. If you’ve booked your flight online, do not expect a paper ticket to be delivered to you. You will most likely get an e-ticket delivered in your confirmation email with all the necessary information about your flight. You can either print your e-ticket or show it on your smartphone screen at the check-in desk once at the airport. Alternatively, during check-in, you can ask for your tickets to be printed.
Arrive in good time
When I say arrive in good time, I don’t mean, arriving too early. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to go through airport procedures. This is especially important if you have to check-in at the airport or drop checked baggage. I’d say, arrive 2-4 hours before your flight departure time. Check-in counters will usually open 2–4 hours before your flight, depending on the airline and the destinations that you’re flying between.
Airports are unpredictable. You can never know for sure how busy it will be or how long it might take to get through security. And, if it’s your first time travelling by air, you might want to spend some time looking around it, and you know, take some Instagram pics!
Dressing appropriately for air travel means knowing what will keep you comfortable on the plane. And given the cramped seats and various temperature changes on flights, this isn’t always easy.
When travelling by air for the first time, you will be tempted to overpack – don’t. Instead, pack light. There is no universal rule to how much you are allowed to carry in your luggage so before packing, ensure that you check the weight limits of your airline carefully. If your check-in suitcase is heavier than the limit, you may have to pay extra at the airport (which is not very cheap). You can also carry a small handbag or backpack with you into the plane. This backpack or duffle bag travels with you on the plane. You can place it in the overhead compartment above your seat or under the seat in front of you.
The colour of your suitcases also matters. Because so many people prefer black and other dark colours, there re always mix-ups with people carrying the wrong luggage home. To avoid this, I’d advise you to buy a brightly coloured suitcase that’s easy to spot and unique from the rest.
If it’s your first time travelling on air, don’t be alarmed by security searches and scans. You’ll need to show your passport and boarding pass to get to Security. Going through security may be a rather fussy and time-consuming procedure but it’s a routine that guarantees your safety on the flight.
To go through security seamlessly, make sure to have a small purse/bag that contains your wallet, documents and boarding pass. You will be expected to empty your pockets for any metals at the metal detectors.
Some airlines and airports have restrictions on liquids allowed on flights so make sure you know the rules before bringing any liquids with you. Sometimes, your luggage may get held up at security. Don’t panic. Remember that this is simply a safety routine procedure. Keep calm, explain to the airport security and move on. Once you go through the scanning process, reorganise your stuff. Remember you’ll need your ID and boarding pass again to board the plane. Next, you’ll have to find your gate. Check the screens for your destination and flight number.
Once you find your gate, you can either queue or simply sit and wait for the long line to die down. You already have a seat assigned so no need to rush in with the crowd. It’s also important to note that some airlines board passengers to by row so simply wait for your number to be called out.
Finding your seat
Finding your seat on the plane if it’s your first time travelling on air can be confusing. Typically, your seat number consists of a letter and a number (say 9A). The number shows the row and the letter – the seat (aisle, middle or window). If you have any difficulties finding your seat number, consult the cabin crew. Place your luggage in the overhead compartment above your seat (or the nearest one available). Your backpack can go under the seat in front of you.
Food and entertainment
If you are travelling for long, food and drinks will be offered. However, for shorter ones, food may not be offered so bring some food along or buy on the plane. Additionally, budget airlines do not offer in-flight entertainment so bring along your own music, books to read or movies to watch.
The most important rule to remember when travelling on air for the first time is that don’t be afraid to ask questions if you re lost or confused. However, don’t just ask anyone. Seek help from airport security and workers only!
Did we miss any useful tips that people travelling on air for the first time can find useful? Feel free to share them on the comments section below!