If you have never been on an airplane before, the thought of flying might be scary. But flying is incredibly routine, and the more you do it the easier it will get. Here are some tips for your first time on a plane.
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In the Air
Download Airline App
No matter where you purchase your ticket — through a travel agent, the airline’s website, or somewhere like Expedia — your flight information will eventually make its way to the airline. My first recommendation is to create an account on the airline’s website, because you can start to collect loyalty points for your flight.
If you did not select seats during your booking, you can also do so here.
After you do all this on the airline’s website, I would recommend downloading the airline app so that you will have all the information you need while you are in the airport. Flight times tend to change, and so you will want to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
My other recommendation is to download the GoGo app. Although many airlines have their entertainment options through their own app, some of them use the GoGo app. This is not something you will always be able to download once you are in airplane mode, and you will not want to be stuck with no entertainment once you are in the air.
On the airplane itself, you are allowed one piece of luggage and one personal item (like a purse). I personally don’t ever bring luggage on an airplane, I check it each time. But I usually will bring something like a backpack and purse with me on the airplane.
When you get to the airport, you will want to check in at the airline desk. They will give you a paper boarding pass (if you prefer — but you can also use the app as your boarding pass) and check your luggage.
My travel hack is that I have credit cards through most airlines, which means I generally do not have to pay for luggage.
If you do not have TSA Precheck (and I am guessing you do not if it is your first time on an airplane), then you will go through the regular security line. They will look at your ID (your driver’s license or passport), and then you will be directed through. You will need to take your electronics out of your bag, and take off your coat and shoes.
Depending on the airport and time of day, expect to be in the security line for a while. I have stood in line anywhere from three minutes to four hours. Do some research on your particular airport and make sure you arrive with plenty of time to get through security and to your gate.
Once you get on the plane, the actual flying part can seem pretty scary. You will get buckled in and they will give you a safety presentation, likely after the plane starts moving.
If there is snow or ice on the plane, you may get de-iced before making your way to your takeoff spot. From there, you will “taxi” to the runway.
The take off can seem so scary because it is pretty unnatural. We are flying through the air, how crazy is that? (if you really start to think about it) If you are feeling nervous, just look around you. If everyone else seems calm, it always keeps me calm. There are a lot of people out there who fly more than I do, and I trust their judgment — and especially the judgment of the flight attendants.
In the Air
Once you reach 10,000 feet, there will be an announcement about it. This means you can start using your large electronic devices. You will have to wait until the seatbelt sign is turned off though before you can get up and use the restroom.
Unless you are flying on a long-haul flight, airlines rarely provide meals anymore. But you will usually get a drink (and sometimes a snack) no matter what. Things like coffee and soda are usually free, but alcoholic drinks will cost more. Be prepared with a credit card, because it’s rare that an airline will accept cash for adult beverages.
It feels backwards, but the more I fly, the more I find I am afraid of flying. So I have done a bunch of research on *if* I should be afraid. The first is the science of flying (you can watch my video here), and really, there is not much to worry about. Turbulence is totally normal and should not be a concern. If the turbulence gets bad, I watch the flight attendants to see if they look concerned. I have actually never seen a flight attendant look concerned — and it has helped ease my fear.
Landing can also seem pretty unnatural — but it happens thousands of times a day. You will start to descend pretty slowly (some pilots like to go a lot faster I have noticed), line up with the runway, and eventually land at the airport.
The plane will de-board row by row (sometimes it can take a little while). There is a societal standard that you do not stand up until it’s your turn.
Flying can seem very overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time on a plane, but there are millions of people who fly every day. It can open up your world to seeing so many new things — and even though sometimes it seems like a necessary evil, it is completely worth it.