It’s amazing to think you can get on an airplane and touchdown somewhere completely different than anywhere you’ve ever been before. You get up in the air, come down, and in a few short hours (okay, sometimes longer), you are in a different state, country, or timezone.
If you’ve never flown before, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get on a plane. Don’t worry, though. I’ve flown enough to have some pointers and tips for first time flyers.
5 Tips For First Time Flyers
Find out your suitcase limits.
You’ll want to pack all your cute clothes, shoes, and purses for your trip because who knows when there may be an Instagram opportunity waiting for you. I understand. But I also know how heavy that may be. And heavy is not a word you want to hear when it pertains to your suitcase. Metal … D … sure, but not a heavy suitcase because that could mean you have to pay extra.
And you may have to pay anyway.
Some airlines will charge you a fee to check any luggage. And some have even started charging for a carry on, which is a pain for me because I only take carry on luggage on domestic flights. For international flights, many airlines will waive the fee for a checked bag, but even that varies based on the weight of the bag, the class you’re sitting in, the airline, etc. And then you have to pull out a tape measure and figure out the dimensions of your bag because the size will determine if it is a carry on or checked bag.
So before you even pick the bag you’re going to use to pack, check with the airline to see weight and carry on limits, then decide.
The liquids thing is still a thing.
Pre-9/11, you could bring bottles of water on to a plane without question. Even after this, the policy was still pretty lax. Small aside: I was traveling post-9/11 with someone who was asked to sit in a chair, open his bottle of water, take a sip, then wait five minutes. When he didn’t explode, we were able to head to our gate.
Now, liquids are limited to bottles in 3.1oz. or smaller containers. Keep that last part in mind. The container must be 3.1oz. or less. You can’t have a 10oz. bottle of shampoo that is only 25% of the way full and get that on a plane. Crafty, but it doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’ll want to put that shampoo in an appropriately sized container and pack it along with any other liquids in a clear, quart-sized bag. When you are going through airport security, you’ll want to take that quart-sized bag out of your luggage and allow it to be scanned through security separately.
Wear slip on shoes. And don’t wear a belt.
What you wear can really affect the amount of time it takes for you to go through security. You have to take your shoes off, so you don’t want to wear shoes that are difficult to take off. Slip on shoes work best. Flip flops are easy to slip off, but I wouldn’t want to walk through the X-Ray machine with bare feet.
You’ll also need to take off your belt if you’re wearing one, so it’s easier to just not wear one. And you’ll need to take anything out of your pockets, including your phone, wallet, and any loose change. So wear a pair of pants that can stay up on its own and has nothing in the pockets.
And if you’re traveling in the winter, and you’re planning on wearing a jacket, you’ll have to take that off before you walk through security. I’ve been asked to take off light zip up sweatshirts too, so just make sure you’re wearing something under one of those and not wearing it as your only shirt, just in case.
You can check in online … but don’t.
If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll save a little time by checking in online prior to your flight. If this is your first flight, though, I wouldn’t suggest it. You’ll be worried about if you did it right, and you can’t ask your laptop questions you may have for the ticketing agent. So, instead, when you get to the airport, head to your airline’s section and check in there. It may take you a little longer, but you’ll feel more confident.
Go straight to your gate.
There’s a lot of fun stuff between security and your gate: coffee shops, fast food, stores, snacks. If this is your first time in an airport, it’s easy to get distracted. Don’t. Please don’t. Go right to your gate. Why? Because that gate can actually change and sometimes you don’t know that until you’re there and someone tells you. You could be stuck in a completely wrong terminal and need a shuttle. And that might take some time … and a bit of risk. So instead, just go straight to your gate. Find out if you’re in the right spot, figure out how much time you have to kill, and then grab your coffee, food, snacks, and vibrating travel pillow.
What other tips for first time flyers do you have? Be sure to leave them in the comments.