Do you have any advice for a first time flyer? Tips for going through the process, the long flight, and exiting the airport/picking up your luggage and all specifically that would have helped you in hindsight? I have a trip coming up and I'm slightly nervous even after googling tips since I'll likely be flying alone. Thanks ^^
As someone who has flown more than a bit before, and usually by myself, I will give you The Sudden Adult’s Guide to Surviving Plane Trips ™.
- For most flights, you can “check in” as early as 24 hours before your flight. This will allow you to print your boarding pass at home/library/etc. and cut some of the time you’d be wasting standing in a long-ass line waiting to print your ticket. Gotta love technology.
- Check your flight the morning of, or a few hours, before you’re scheduled to leave for the airport. Make sure the time hasn’t changed due to weather/mechanical issues/etc. No one wants to arrive at the airport to find out their fucking flight was delayed 5 hours and they now have to wait at a crappy airport coffee shop.
- Get dropped off at the terminal for your flight. The best way to ensure this is to have a general idea of where your terminal will be. You don’t have to be dropped off there, but it saves you from walking and dragging your luggage down to your airline’s bag check.
- TIP YOUR BAG PERSON. That person who you drop your luggage off with when you arrive at the airport? Tip them. I usually give $5 per bag. A nice tip and friendly attitude ensures your bag arrives at its destination (usually).
- If you have a black/brown/gray suitcase, try making it stand out. Usually I see people tie ribbons to the handles. Personally, I have a lime green ribbon and a pink skull luggage tag that are hard to miss (but then, my regular suitcase is also metallic, so it’s a pleasant eyesore).
- Put luggage tags on your suitcase and carry-on. Make sure your information on the tags is up-to-date. In case your shit goes missing, you want to give the airport a way of finding you.
- Know what your airline considers a carry-on size. Sometimes airlines will change the carry-on requirements because why not do things to piss off passengers? Check by calling the airline directly or Googling “What is a carry-on bag + name of airline.” Usually you are allowed one carry-on and one personal bag (purse/backpack/laptop case).
- Know the 3-1-1 rule and follow it. Keep your tiny liquids bag in an easily-accessible front or side pocket so you can whip it out without digging through your bag. Same goes for laptops. Make it easy to pull out, because it will have to go in a bin by itself.
- Wear shoes that easily slip on and off, because you will have to take them off to go through security. Also, wear socks, because who knows what the fuck’s on that airport floor.
- Take any coats/hoodies off while you wait in line. TSA agents will ask you to take these off anyway, so might as well save the people behind you some time. Same goes for any jewelry, belts, or cellphones that will set off the metal detector. Put them in a pocket of your carry-on.
- Pay attention to the line when it moves. As a (former) frequent flyer, I cannot explain how annoying it is to be stuck in a line behind someone who is not paying attention. Don’t be that person.
- Also, if you’re not a frequent flyer, do not get in the experienced flyer line. We can smell the inexperience.
- Keep your ID and ticket (and passport, if required) easily accessible on your person. This will make going through any additional security nice and easy for you.
- Find out where your terminal is, then worry about getting food or drink. Nothing is more stressful than finally getting your $20 sandwich and then having to run around a large airport trying to find your terminal. Find your terminal and then embark on the search for food.
- Do not leave your bags unattended. This should really speak for itself.
- Pee before you fly. Like Ma always said, use the loo before you fly, boo…especially if you need to poo.
- Good fucking luck finding a place to charge your phone/laptop/nintendo 3DS if you’re flying out during a busy time (holidays, weekends, etc.). Solve the problem by charging these things the night before you leave.
- Put your carry-on in the overhead bin that’s near your seat. If you have anything in there that you might want during the flight (magazine, notebook, etc.), consider getting it out before you get on the plane.
- Sit in the seat you’ve been assigned. Unless it’s a Southwest flight (which lets passengers choose their own seats upon boarding), your ticket will say where you’ll sit. Sit there. Don’t be the seat-stealing prick of the plane.
- If you’re nervous, listen to the flight attendant at the beginning. They will explain all regular and emergency procedures. Sometimes knowing how to survive if shit hits the fan can make you feel better.
- If you think you may feel sick during the flight, try chewing mint-flavored gum. Gum also helps with you ears popping. If the flight serves drinks, request something soothing like ginger ale. If not, buy a $3 bottle of lemon-lime soda from a place in the airport. My personal experience is that ginger ale solves all flight sickness (or maybe that’s a placebo effect, I don’t know and don’t care, because I like ginger ale).
- Don’t get up when the flight attendant brings out the little drink cart. There’s never a way around it, so just sit tight until it passes you if you need to get up and pee.
- Try getting to know your seat neighbor(s), if you’re comfortable with that. Last time I flew, I had an interesting discussion with the old dude sitting next to me about the status of the US economy.
Landing & Leaving:
- BRACE YOURSELF! Sort of kidding, but if you’re like me and planes make you nauseous, you might want to prepare yourself (I know that I personally feel most sick during turbulence and landing).
- Don’t bother rushing to get up and stand. The damn plane’s not going to take off again while you’re still on it, so chill out and take your time. If you’re on a flight that’s part of a connecting flight, they’ll usually ask passengers who need to leave to make their next flight to get off first. Some people are jerks and will pretend just so they can leave slightly sooner than others.
- Be careful when you open the overhead bin. They aren’t kidding when they say stuff may have shifted around. I once saw a lady get beaned on the forehead by her kid’s carry-on.
- Make your way to the baggage claim. If you have to pee, do it now, because luggage can take a while, so you might as well empty your bladder while you can. And if you’re lost, just follow the people form your plane, or ask someone who looks like an airport employee.
- Stand around the luggage carousel and wait for your bag. A lot of people crowd around the opening, but you can stand out and wait near the end. The bags go around in circles for fucks sake, so it’s not like you only have one chance to grab your bag. Also, double-check that it is your bag.
- Check that your ride knows when and where to pick you up. Let them know your flight number, arrival time, and terminal so they can be on the lookout. Pick someone reliable (I’ve been left waiting before, I can tell you it sucks ass).
So…yep. That’s all the tips I can think of.
-The Sudden Adult
PS. If you’re gonna fly, don’t let your arms get tired! HA. HA. HA.