15 Expert Tips for First-Time Flyers

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Flying for the first time can be intimidating with all the unfamiliar procedures. You’ll need to navigate airport mazes and decipher cryptic boarding procedures—things that can be challenging even for seasoned travelers. However, with adequate preparation, you can transform this potentially overwhelming experience into an enjoyable journey. That’s why this comprehensive guide offers 15 essential tips to make your first flight smooth and stress-free. Enjoy!

Be at the Airport Two Hours Early


Airports are labyrinths of security checks, long lines, and unexpected delays. The airline recommends arriving two hours earlier for domestic flights and, for international flights, three hours. This extra time allows you to navigate the check-in process, clear security screenings, and reach your gate without the risk of missing your flight.

Remember Your Id

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Whether it’s your driver’s license or passport, keep your identification documents within easy reach. You’ll need a valid government-issued ID for check-in, security screenings, and potentially even mid-flight snack purchases (hey, those tiny pretzels are worth their weight in gold!). Having your ID readily available will streamline the process and prevent unnecessary delays.

Become Familiar with the Local Language


While English is the universal language of aviation, a few well-placed phrases in the local tongue can go a long way. Simple pleasantries like “thank you” and “excuse me” can make a great impression and improve your overall travel experience.

Remember Your Essentials

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Flights have a way of turning even the most organized individuals into scavengers. Stash a small carry-on with essentials like medication, chargers, a change of clothes, and any other must-haves you can’t bear to part with during the journey. You’ll thank your well-prepared self later when you don’t have to dig through your checked luggage or make emergency purchases at the airport.

Download New Music, Books, Movies


Boredom is the ultimate enemy of any long-haul flight. Arm yourself with a fresh entertainment arsenal, from that best-selling audiobook everyone’s raving about to the latest blockbuster movie. Load up your devices with various engaging content to keep you occupied and prevent restlessness from setting in. A well-curated selection of movies, TV shows, music playlists, podcasts, and e-books can make those long hours in the air fly by, ensuring you arrive at your destination refreshed and entertained.

Take Noise-canceling Headphones


Noise-canceling headphones are the key to transforming a cacophonous cabin into a serene oasis. Invest in a quality pair, and you can tune out the symphony of crying babies, chatty seatmates, and jet engine roars. They’ll also help you fully enjoy your downloaded entertainment without distractions.

Investigate Your Insurance Options


While we all hope for smooth sailing, it’s always wise to prepare for the unexpected when traveling. Research travel insurance policies that cover medical bills, flight delays or cancellations, and other emergencies. A little peace of mind can go a long way when you’re 30,000 feet in the air and facing unforeseen circumstances.

Make Sure You Check the Airline’s Luggage Requirements

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Airlines have strict rules about luggage weight, size, and the number of bags you can bring. Familiarize yourself with these guidelines to avoid any nasty surprises (or hefty fees) at the check-in counter. Most airlines allow free carry-on bags and one personal item, but fees apply for checked luggage.

Assess Your Seating Situation


Window or aisle? Emergency exit or bulkhead? These are the questions that will plague you during the booking process. Consider your priorities—view, legroom, or easy access to the restrooms—and choose wisely. Some airlines also offer upgraded seating options, like extra legroom or premium economy, for an additional fee.

Have a Hand Sanitizer Close By


Planes can be petri dishes of germs, so you’ll want to keep those microscopic hitchhikers at bay. Stash a travel-sized hand sanitizer in your carry-on and use it liberally throughout your journey, especially before eating or touching your face. Following this simple step will prevent you from catching any disease circulating on the flight.

Grab Your Gadgets

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Let’s face it: Gadgets are gradually becoming our lifeline, and nothing can be more disheartening than leaving them back home while going on a trip. Charge your phone, tablet, laptop, and other devices beforehand. And remember to pack their respective chargers and cables, too. Some airlines offer in-seat power outlets or USB ports, but it’s best to have a backup power bank.

Wear Comfortable Clothing and Footwear


You’ll be spending hours confined to a cramped space, so ditch the skinny jeans and opt for loose, breathable clothing. Slip-on shoes are also wise, as you must remove them during security screenings. You can also adjust to fluctuating cabin temperatures by dressing in layers.

Consider Alternatives

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If the thought of a traditional flight fills you with dread, explore alternative aircraft options. Some airlines offer dedicated “pet-free” or “child-free” cabins, catering to those seeking a more serene travel experience. Consider booking a premium cabin or upgrading to business or first class for added comfort and amenities.

Download Your Airline’s App


Most major airlines have user-friendly apps that can streamline your journey. These apps ensure a smoother experience from start to finish, whether checking your boarding pass on your mobile device or tracking flight status in real time. Many apps also allow you to book flights remotely, select seats, and monitor your luggage.

Pack Your Favorite Snacks


Airline food is notorious for being bland, scarce, and unsatisfying. Bring along your favorite snacks to satiate those mid-flight cravings. Use solid, non-liquid items like granola bars, trail mixes, or jerky to breeze through security. Hydrating foods like fresh fruit are also an excellent choice for long flights.

Written by grayson