Tips for First-Time Flyers for Every Step of the Way

Tips for First-Time Flyers for Every Step of the Way

Air travel is exciting, but there are important things to know to be well prepared. Our guide to flying for the first time and step-by-step instructions will help you prepare for your trip, get to the airport and through security, and board the plane correctly. Ensuring everything is in order minimizes the risk of something going wrong on your big adventure.

Preparing What You Need Before Leaving Home

If you have never been on an airplane, you may wonder what you need when flying. This list of items will help keep you comfortable and prepared:

  • Documents – Keep your passport, ID, and boarding pass handy so they're easily accessible when needed. Check out these Travelpro® security pouches for safety and organization.
  • Carry On – Your carry on bag or suitcase goes in the overhead bin; read up on how to pack for a short trip to maximize your space.
  • Personal Item – Items you may need mid-flight should go in your personal item, which gets tucked under the seat in front of you.
  • Drinks – Purchase drinks (or fill an empty water bottle) once you have passed through security.
  • Snacks– You can pack most snacks in your bag without TSA concerns.
  • Electronics – Get your tablet, e-reader, laptop, phone, or music device ready – they can be used throughout most of the flight. Some planes have charging ports at each seat as well.
  • Books – Prefer paper? Long flights provide ample reading time.
  •  Medication – Keep any medication you need during the flight in your personal item in its original bottle.
  • Toiletries – Most toiletries go in your carry on, but you may want to keep a toothbrush handy if you're on a long flight.
  • Clothing – Planes can get chilly; dress in layers for the flight.

Arriving at the Airport

Most airlines recommend arriving at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departs. However, if this is your first time flying, you may want to give yourself more time. Even if everything goes smoothly, being ready to fly involves more than just showing up at the airport with your bags.

Parking fees can get expensive. Consider whether you should drive your own vehicle and park in the long-term parking, get a ride, rideshare, or use public transportation. Once you have arrived on airport property, you still need to get to the right terminal, find your airline, and check your bags. Before you get there, review a map of the airport and learn how to navigate an airport to keep things moving smoothly

Getting Through Security

Security at airports is provided by TSA - the Transportation Security Administration. Their job is to ensure all passengers are safe in the airports and on the planes. While this should be a smooth operation, unprepared passengers often cause unnecessary delays. Learn the TSA rules and requirements that apply to all travelers in all commercial airports across the US, and then read our blog about how to go through airport security faster.

Boarding the Plane

Your departing gate may change at the last minute. Once inside the airport, check the screens that show all arriving and departing flights and look for your flight. There may be more than one flight going to your destination, so make sure you have the right one by using the flight number.

If it’s your first time flying, what to do at the airport may surprise you. Some airports have attractions like museums, mini malls, nail salons, massage chairs, and even fine dining. Allow yourself time to explore, find convenience stores, get snacks and drinks, and then arrive at your gate well before boarding time.

Things can get hectic right before the boarding process. Knowing how to board a plane correctly will keep your stress down when everyone starts crowding around the gate. When your boarding group is called – indicated by the group number listed on your boarding pass – line up with your fellow passengers.

The gate agent will scan your pass, and allow you to enter the jet bridge, which will connect you to the plane. Once onboard, locate your row and seat. This is where you will store your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin and your personal item under the seat in front of you. Sit down, buckle up, and be patient as the other flyers board.

Flying for the first time only happens once. By following this advice for first time flyers, you’ll earn your wings with ease and start your adventure like a true travel pro.

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