Flying on an airplane for the first time — or the first time in a long while — can be an exciting, life-changing adventure. But it can also be incredibly stressful.
Don’t worry, if you are a plane virgin, we will guide you through some tips on how to be prepared and what to expect.
The first hustle you will probably worry about, is getting your paper work all ready. In order to do that, you need to know what are the essential papers.
Make sure it’s up to date and ideally has at least three months to go before its expiration date whenever you travel internationally.
Be sure to book your travel insurance before you leave for your holiday. Print out your policy documents and bring them with you – make sure you have the emergency number for medical assistance and a rundown on what your chosen policy covers.
It is a paper ticket or e-ticket. Most airlines now issue e-tickets that can be shown on your tablet or smartphone. So if you booked online and were expecting a paper ticket to arrive in the post: don’t panic – you will usually be issued with all the information you need to show staff at the airport in your confirmation email, which can come from the airline you’re flying with or from a third-party.
If you’re flying and need to exchange your cash into another currency, don’t use the currency exchange companies at the airport as they usually give terrible exchange rates. Instead, exchange your money with a reputable currency exchange service before the day you fly.
Airline luggage requirements
It’s easy to overpack — but if you do, it could get expensive. Before your flight, visit your airline’s website to review luggage size and weight restrictions, as well as baggage fees. Fare paid will vary by airlines. If you’re packing anything that’s hard to replace — say, prescription medicine, contacts or glasses, or important paperwork — put it in your carry-on bag. This way, you won’t be without that item in the rare event your checked bag goes missing. You’ll also want to pack some in-flight entertainment, such as your laptop, headphones and a book or magazine.
Arrive 2 hours earlier than your flight
It’s highly advised to arrive at the airport 2 hours earlier than your flight if domestically, and 3 hours if you are flying internationally. The reason beyond that is the longer process it takes to get on the plane. From getting your boarding pass, to checking your bags then going through security and so on. Sometimes this process takes 10 minutes, other times it takes longer than 10 minutes depending on the season you are travelling in (especially if it is a peak travel time) and your destination of course. Generally, the boarding time will be written on your ticket.
Prepare to take off
Now that you are getting on the plane and taking your seat, and before your plane takes off, there are some procedures to go through that may be alarming if this is your first time flying, but all of these are completely routine and contribute to safety on board. You’ll be shown how to buckle your seat belt, what the different lights on the seat ahead of you mean, and what to do in case of an emergency. Remember, every flight has to go through this process, partly due to the existence of first-time flyers like yourself.
Plane food and meals
When you book your flight, check to see if a meal is included. Food can usually be purchased on shorter flights, and meals are provided on international flights. Even though airline food has a reputation for being bland, plan on accepting a tray when the flight attendant offers it and nibble on the parts you like. Mealtime can be a welcome distraction on a flight. Bring a sandwich, protein bar or snacks with you for shorter flights. If you have special dietary needs such as being a vegetarian or requiring kosher food call the airline in advance so that it can accommodate you.
Consider pre-selecting a seat
Pre-selecting a seat will ensure that you get exactly the seat that you want on the aircraft. If you’re someone that might need to use the toilet often, choose a seat next to the aisle. If you’re someone that wants to catch some sleep and doesn’t want to be bothered during your flight, choose a seat by the window. Pre-selecting a seat is also a great way to guarantee that you’ll be seated next to the person(s) that you’re travelling with. The airline will often try and sit you together by default but depending on the availability, you might be separated.
Last but not least, have a back-up plan
You know the saying “in case if anything goes wrong”? You have to be aware that sometimes things might go wrong, you might lose your baggage, or miss the plane. You might have to pay extra fees. So if you have anxiety, you might consider seeing your therapist before taking off. And if you are one of the people who gets really worried with the slightest change that occurs, you need to plan everything perfectly and know the airport’s procedures clearly. We also advise you keep the airline’s customer service number in handy in case of any delay or unforeseen circumstances happen. And don’t lose connection with them.
Always remember to take a deep breath, and in case of any setbacks, don’t let that derail your travel plans. Enjoy your time!
- USA today (cover photo)