7 MUST-KNOW TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME FLYERS
It can be a life-changing experience to fly on an airplane for the first time, or even the first time in a while. It can also be highly stressful.
It’s your goal to get to the airport with the confidence of a veteran traveler. But that can be difficult to do when you don’t know what to expect at security or how much it costs to check a baggage.
How can you do that? These tips can help you feel more confident and make your trip less stressful.
For first-time flyers, here are some tips
1. Make sure you check the baggage requirements of your airline.
It is easy to pack too much. But it can be costly. Check your airline’s website before you fly to learn about baggage weight, restrictions, and fees. These vary depending on the airline and the fare paid. Here’s what you can usually bring with a standard airfare on a major airline.
- You get two carry-on bags for free: one large, full-size suitcase the size of a minor, rolling suitcase, or smaller, and one small, personal item such as a bag or backpack.
- A checked suitcase, often one that weighs less than 50 pounds, costs $25-30. Additional bags may be charged an extra fee
You may need to pay extra to check your bag if it is too heavy. You may also have to pay an additional fee if your load exceeds a specific size. These surprises are best avoided if you can.
Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie, a New York City resident and founder of The Globetrotting Teacher, says that little things can set you off if you’re nervous about flying. Even if it isn’t a huge deal, when you reach the check-in counter, they tell you that there’s $30 for bags. This could be something that rattles your nerves.
You could save money on baggage fees if your luggage is light enough.
An airline credit card may allow you to get free checked baggage fees.
2. Your carry-on should contain essentials.
You should always pack anything challenging to replace, such as prescription medication, contacts, glasses, or necessary paperwork. In this way, you will only be with the item if your checked bag is lost. Also, remember to bring some entertainment in flight, such as headphones, a book, or a magazine.
For what you can bring, make sure to follow the Transportation Security Administration’s rules. For example, you cannot bring a large bottle of contact lens solution in your carry-on, but you can take a 3.4-ounce container. Remember, however, that your carry-on bag may not fit under the seat in front. International flights may have additional rules.
Jeff Klee, CEO and founder of CheapAir.com (an online travel agency located in Calabasas), says that overhead compartments can quickly fill up. If you are in the back, there might need to be more room. You’ll need to check your bag at the gate, which can be frustrating. Your full-sized bag can be checked at the entrance so it will travel along with other checked bags on the flight.
3. Two hours before departure, arrive at the airport.
It’s different than taking a bus or catching a train. TSA recommends that you arrive at least two hours before takeoff for domestic travel and three hours for international travel.
You should allow yourself enough time for your boarding pass to be processed, your bags checked, and security to be cleared before you board your plane. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes. It can take longer, especially during peak travel hours.
Remember that the process of boarding a plane is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Airline passengers are typically boarding in groups 30 minutes prior to takeoff. A boarding time will usually be printed on your ticket.
4. Keep your ID handy.
Airport security was very lax decades ago. Klee said that there was one point when you could simply walk up to a gate regardless of whether you were flying or not and whether or not you had an ID. TSA agents now check passengers’ IDs over 18.
You can save time by making sure you have your passport, driver’s licence or ID card ready when you get to the airport. It’s essential for security checks and bag check, so don’t forget it.
5. Easy-to-remove footwear is recommended.
Although airport security can be stressful, it is possible to make the process much easier if you are aware of what to expect. You will need to have TSA precheck or Global Entry.
- If you are older than 75 or 12 years old, take off your shoes
- Take out all of your jewelry and accessories, including your belt, jacket, wallet, and hat.
- Take your laptop out of your bag.
- These items and your carry-on bag can be sent through an Xray machine
- You can walk through a metal detector, a body scanner or opt for a pat down.
This can be made easier by preparing for it, such as wearing comfortable shoes that you can slip on and off easily and making sure your items are TSA-compliant.
6. Respect the space of other passengers.
Most flights these days are fully booked and have very little legroom. Be mindful of the stress this can cause for your fellow passengers.
Sills-Dellegrazie states, “If any of you stuff or body parts are getting into another space, you really need to be aware of that.” It could be as simple as putting your ponytail on top of the seat, and it hanging… across the TV screen of someone else, and you don’t even know it.
You might also accidentally upset someone next to you if you use perfume, cologne, or eat stale food. You can’t always plan for everything, so make sure you do your best to avoid making a mistake on the flight.
7. Always have a backup plan.
Let’s play “worst-case scenario”: First-time flyer edition: What happens to you if your flight is cancelled?
First, take a deep breath. The airline will usually put you on standby for the next flight if you are late due to unforeseen circumstances such as a traffic delay. To get your flight rebooked, you will need to notify the airline within two hours.
You may be able to miss a connecting flight if you have a smartphone or screen at the airport. This will let you know which gate your flight departs and whether it has been delayed. You may still be able to board if the flight is delayed. If you miss your connection, the airline is responsible. You can rebook the flight at no cost and possibly get a free meal or voucher for lodging.
In both cases, the key is to be proactive. Keep the number of the airline’s customer support phone handy so that you can dial as quickly as possible if you get stuck in traffic. If you are already at the airport, ask the customer service desk about rebooking. It can be frustrating to miss a flight, but it doesn’t have to stop you from making your travel plans.