Flying for the first time can be pretty intimidating. When you stop to think about it, flying is pretty wild. Add on all the security procedures and queuing, and a trip to the airport rarely sounds like a relaxing task.
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But don’t worry! Around 100,000 flights take off every single day, mainly without a hitch. And when you’re prepared for flying, the whole thing seems much less complicated.
We’ve put together this guide of what to expect when flying for the first time to help first-time flyers understand the process.
What To Expect When Flying For The First Time
This is a general guideline to what you can expect when flying for the first time, including some tips and tricks for first-time flyers.
Getting To The Airport
Getting to the airport well before your flight, especially if you’re flying internationally, is important. Most airports ask you to arrive a minimum of 2 hours ahead of your departure time.
If you’ve booked a parking spot at the airport, you’ll probably need to check in and hand over the keys. You’ll take a bus to the airport terminal from here, so allow extra time.
Other modes of transport will drop you off at the terminal door.
The next step is checking in! Once you’ve found your check-in desk, you’ll probably need to get in a queue. Make sure you have all your documents and passports for you and your family members to hand.
Here, you’ll hand over your checked luggage to be tagged and put on the plane, and you’ll receive a boarding pass. If you’re only taking hand luggage, the check-in process is quicker.
Some airports offer online check-in, which can speed up the process. Read this article to learn more about How to Avoid Lost Luggage When Flying.
Airport security can seem intimidating, but don’t let it worry you. Most of the time, the worst part will be standing in line.
You’ll need to show your passport and boarding pass. From here, head to security.
Before you reach airport security, there’s space to sort out your bags (and yourself). Bag any liquids that need to be bagged, and throw away anything above the limit. Find out How To Pack Liquids For Air Travel and whether you can Take Baby Food On A Plane?
Take any coins or keys out of your pocket. You may need to take off your shoes.
Place your bag and any loose items into a tray, which will pass through a scanner. The security guards will call you when it’s time to pass through the body scanner.
With any luck, you’ll pass through the scanner without incident and can go and pick up your bag.
However, it’s not unusual to set off the scanner! The security agent will check you over, and once they’ve found the problem, they will send you on your way. If your luggage gets held up, they’ll check it over, and you can move on.
Read this article to find out more about Navigating Airport Security with Children.
Before The Airplane
Once you’ve passed through security, take a minute to reorganize your luggage. You still need your passport and boarding pass, so keep those close to hand.
Take a second to locate your gate. Depending on how long check-in and security took, the plane may be ready for boarding. In that case, make your way to the gate.
You can relax and look around the airport terminal if you have time before your flight.
Keep an eye on the screens, which will tell you when the plane is ready for boarding (there may also be announcements). Make your way to the departure gate when the plane is ready for boarding.
Before boarding, they’ll scan your boarding pass and passport. It can be a long walk from the gate to the plane, and you may even take a little bus. It all depends on the size of the airport.
The cabin crew will check your boarding pass when you reach the plane and direct you to your seat. Store any luggage in the overhead compartment, and get comfortable in your seat. Don’t forget to put the seatbelt on.
When everyone is on the plane, you’ll start take-off procedures. The cabin crew will go through a safety demonstration. It can sound intimidating and scary, but this is a routine practice for your safety.
The captain will greet the plane, and the cabin crew will perform the final safety checks. And then it’s time to go.
Take-off can be noisy, and you might feel a jolt and some vibrations. This is normal and nothing to worry about. After a few minutes, the plane will have reached altitude. The seat belt sign will go off, and the ride will feel smoother and quieter.
In The Air
It’s time to enjoy your first flight! Some love to look out the window, while others prefer to keep their eyes elsewhere.
During the flight, you might find your ears start feeling strange. This is due to the changes in pressure, and it’s nothing to worry about. Swallowing and sucking on candy can alleviate the problem.
If you’re flying with a budget airline, you’ll need to entertain yourself. Pack a book, and download movies and music. Longer flights and premium airlines tend to add entertainment, including meals and in-flight movies.
When traveling with children, it’s essential to bring kid-friendly travel snacks and activities to keep your little ones entertained, such as coloring, books, games, and small toys.
These Airplane Activities for Kids are the perfect way to entertain all ages and provide fun and enjoyment during flights and in the airport. This Printable Airplane Activity Bundle is an inexpensive way to engage your children in fun activities and help avoid screen time while traveling.
Turbulence can feel awful, but it’s common on flights. Turbulence occurs when the plane hits a strong wind current.
Some turbulence you can hardly feel, but other times it will rattle the plane. Don’t panic — the captain is used to dealing with it, and you should pass through to clearer air soon enough.
The flight’s nearly over! Before landing, the captain will alert the cabin crew, and all passengers must put their seatbelts back on, stow tray tables, and pack away any loose items.
You can feel the plane moving downwards, so prepare for a swoop in your stomach. You’ll know when you reach the ground because there’s a jolt. This is normal, and it means you’ve completed your first-ever flight!
Once the plane has landed, wait for the cabin crew to let you disembark. You might need to pass through customs and collect your luggage.
It’s not unusual to feel trepidation ahead of your first-ever flight. The best thing to do is keep calm and try your best to enjoy the ride.
If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask the cabin crew. They are experienced at flying and will be happy to help.
Watch this Video about Flying for First Timers
For more about family travel, check out these posts:
Navigating Airport Security with Children
Surviving Jet Lag with your Baby or Toddler
How To Pack Liquids For Air Travel
Complete guide to getting your baby or child a U.S. passport
How To Pack Formula For Air Travel
How To Travel With Frozen Breast Milk
Why Does Flying Make You Tired?