Flying by Airplane for the First Time
Things to do & know:
1. Purchase your ticket online. You will need a credit card or a friend / guardian / relative that can pay it for you (no, it doesn’t have to be payed by you!)
2. Economy class usually allows one “large” luggage (e.g. around 23 kg) and one personal hand bag / luggage (usually around 8 kg). Size is standardized, consult with your flying company what is allowed and accepted, otherwise you’ll have to pay more for extra weight.
3. Do not carry sharp or dangerous objects in your personal bag/luggage, it won’t be allowed. Also, limit water bottles to 100 mL of liquid (there are conditions where you can carry bottle of 2 liters or 5 liters if they are unopened and reported upfront. Again, consult terms and conditions of the airport and flying company.
Also, any food in your luggage that’s exposed to X-ray security scanner is safe for later consumption. Same holds true for medication.
4. Check-in period is usually 1.5 hours before the actual flight, although this may vary from airport to airport, and things certainly differ “on paper” and in practice. Some airports will accept check-in as late as just 1 hour before the flight, others might require 2 or 3 hours minimum. Best way in our experience is to ask local travel companies and taxi drivers for an information, or just make a call to the airport info service.
Remember, better be 1 hour too early than 1 minute too late. If you believe they’ll gonna stop the plain and wait for you, you’re watching way too much TV and Hollywood fantasy.
5. After you check-in, you will be at the gate room(s), look at your ticket and screen monitors to find appropriate gate terminal. You don’t want to enter wrong plane, after all.
While you wait, you might wish to visit Duty Free Shop or a bathroom, which is perfectly fine.
Never, ever leave your hand luggage or bag(s) unattended at ALL TIMES! Yes, even if you go to the bathroom.
Otherwise it may be treated as suspicious and dangerous object and it may be taken away and destroyed without notice! Take care of your personal belongings at all times.
6. Boarding airplane takes up to 20-40 minutes, so be patient to wait in line. Make sure to bring entertainment accessories with you (crosswords, phone, headphones).
Many planes do not have any personal entertainment system, especially in shorter flights / routes, so do not make any beginner mistake by watching too much Hollywood movies :)
Make final calls with your friends and relatives, because very soon your should switch your phones, tablets and computers into airplane/flight mode and no reception will be possible. Wi-Fi is not always available, and if it is, it may be very limited, so don’t count on it!
7. Safety Instructions – at this point, just before the take-off, flight attendants (stewards and stewardesses) will inform you about safety protocols and procedures, locations of the oxygen masks and other equipment (above your head at the ceiling, and underneath passenger’s seats). Make sure to understand this well and ask further questions if you don’t.
Remember, their primary job is to assure safety of all passengers, and serving you food and beverages is their secondary task! ;)
If you travel with kids, make sure to explain and remind them how to behave once inside the plane, and prepare yourself with a lot patience. Be prepared that babies not always fall asleep and may cry, so have necessary accessories with you.
This is all normal, and part of life. Essentially, anything that usually happens during the trip while in the car or a bus happens in the planes, too! The only difference is, well, that you are up in the air and there are no gas stations and stores to stop by!
8. Take off procedure is usually quick, sometimes you will not even hear a public announcement from your captain (as in the movies), and plane will just start moving “on its own” without any upfront notice!
Just relax! If you are suffering from anxiety or elevated blood pressure, avoid heavy meals and rich food, and make sure to take your medication before the flight per your prescription and instructions. It will help you stay calm during the take-off and initial flying experience.
Planes are weird when you fly for the first time, there’s obviously engine noise in the background, buzzing / high-pitch tone and pressure in ear drums while rapidly changing altitude, which might feel strange because its abrupt and fast, as opposed to more gradual changes when you drive in a car and climb up to a mountain.
9. During the flight find something relaxing to do: read a book, listen to the music, watch landscapes through the window, and so on. It’s always better to have a company, of course, but you have to take care of yourself in case you are traveling alone.
Long flights are exhausting, so arm yourself with calmness and patience. Charge your phone’s battery to 100% before the flight, and optionally bring along external power bank (if allowed).
10. Airplane landing is usually smooth, but depending on the various factors (pilot skills, plane condition and size, track condition etc.) it may feel a bit bumpy, particularly after airplane touches the ground and starts decelerating. It’s all normal, don’t worry and you’ll be fine.
From my experience, landing is usually very soft, there is is virtually no transition between air and the land, but if the track’s asphalt is not perfect (e.g. has cracks and holes) it is the dominant factor that can actually make you feel little discomfort because of the high speed ride (airplane is no longer flying at this stage).
11. Arrival at the destination (finally feeling relieved!) essentially consists of the opposite steps you took when you first arrived at the airport at the origin point.
- Disembark the airplane
- Don’t forget to pick up the luggage at the baggage carousel
- Pass Customs & COVID control
- Take a car or bus ride to the final destination
This experience greatly varies from airport to airport, from country to country, from destination to destination.
If it’s a large airport hub and well-known popular destination, be prepared for the crowd, long waiting lines and so on. Remember, you are not the only traveler in the world! :)
It may take you up to an hour to leave vicinity of the airport and head on to your final destination, but your mileage will vary. In case of smaller airports and local transitional hubs, this can be a matter of just few minutes.
Safe trip and good luck!