Things Every First-Time Flyer Should Know but Doesn’t

first-time flyer tips

As a first-time flyer there are some things you should know. Here are my first-time flyer tips to help you take-off on your next adventure with ease.

You can only have liquids in 3oz or smaller containers in your carry on

Every time I go through security I see the one misinformed flyer having to throw out their shampoo or half-drunk Gatorade. Before you get to the airport check to be sure your liquids are not larger than 3oz.

Turning your phone on airplane mode still allows you to use WIFI

When in Europe I didn’t have an international phone plan so I put my phone on airplane mode for three months, and was still able to have access to Wifi.

Your departure time is not the time you need to arrive at your gate

I find my seat and sit down on my flight to Aruba. I was hopeful that my seat neighbor wouldn’t show up so I could snag their window seat. Yet, just as the gates were about to close he comes running in and sits down next to me. He was going to his sister’s destination wedding in Aruba and it was his first flight. After chatting with me he confessed he didn’t know that flyers needed to arrive at the gate before departure time. The airline’s gate closes ten-minutes before the departure time. Often boarding begins thirty minutes before the departure time so be sure to stay close to your gate.

Ask to check your carry-on at the gate to avoid the overhead compartments

Checking my carry-on bag is one of my sneakiest hacks for making traveling a breeze. I hate dealing with stuffy overhead compartments, but I hate paying for checking my luggage. Usually, there isn’t enough space for everyone’s carry-on. Before boarding listen for announcements regarding complimentary checked bags. Even if they don’t make the announcement you can offer to check your bag.

Your tray table has to stay upright for take-off and landing

Before you get comfy with your tray table down, wait until take off. After the
plane takes off, the flight attendant will announce when you can freely move
around the cabin.

You won’t have many opportunities to go to the bathroom on the plane (the seatbelt sign)

Always go to the bathroom before getting on a flight. Sometimes there is too much turbulence and the flight attendants won’t let you get up at all.

If you are checking a bag the weight matters

If you decide to check a bag, you will have to pay extra if the bag is over 50 pounds. Not to mention it is illegal to have a bag over 70 pounds.

People who lean their seat back are the worst

Don’t be this person. I have wondered for years why airlines even allow seats to recline. You will be laying in the lap of the person behind you. 

Always try and get a window seat or aisle seat (avoid b& e at all cost)

Without a window seat, I end up staring at the back of the seat in front of me. Having a window seat allows for the entertainment of staring at the world below, provided I am not sleeping.

They provide snacks and free drinks on board

Not all airlines provide snacks and drinks, but most do. My favorite is an airplane snack to get is cookies with coffee.

Not all airlines have the same luggage policy

There are cheaper airlines that skrimp on luggage. Don’t assume that your airline includes a complimentary carry-on bag. Before I fly with a new airline I always double-check the baggage policy to ensure that I bring the right luggage. 

No smoking

If you are an avid smoker hold off until post flight to light a cigarette.

The best sleeping position is to rest your head on the tray table or window

Flying on a red-eye flight it is nearly impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position, but I tried. My favorite position while flying is laying my head on the tray table. 

Turbulence is okay. You aren’t crashing.

One of my favorite first-time flyer tips to ensure my fellow travelers turbulence is normal. I ordered coffee on a short flight to Chicago last summer, and quickly realized it was a mistake. Mid-flight the plane flew through a spot of turbulence, and the steaming hot coffee in my hand began splashing. The flight attendant kindly helped me clean up the spilled coffee, but next time I might think twice about ordering a hot drink. If things get a little bumpy on a flight you have no reason to fret. 

You should watch the safety features presentation at least once ( make sure your mask is secure before you secure someone else’s)

I hardly ever pay attention to the safety presentation anymore, but that is because I have heard it so much I could practically recite it myself. If you have never heard the safety procedures presentation you should listen to it at least once.

The magazines they give you to read are interesting (hemispheres) and you are free to take them

The magazines on flights have some fantastic articles on them. Hemispheres is one of my favorites.

When your ears pop- do this

One of the best first-time flyer tips I ever got was how to deal with my ears popping. My mom bought me a fresh pack of mint gum. Chewing gum can help get your jaw moving and reduce the popped sensation your ears feel. The best solution, however, is to hold your nose and blow. It relieves the popped sensation almost instantaneously.

You can order alcohol on board (21 or up)

If you need a little something to take the edge off order an alcoholic beverage while on board. 

Know how much your belongings are worth in case the airline was too lost your luggage

I have never had any issues with missing luggage, but I am always prepared. In case the airline was to lose your luggage be sure to know how much your baggage is worth to claim reimbursements.

TSA Pre-check is the best

Sign up for TSA Pre-Check at any airport. Travelers with TSA-Pre-Check are pre-approved and allowed to skip lines at security. To sign up for TSA Pre-Check you will need a governmentally issued ID proving citizenship and costs $85 for a five-year membership. 

Show up two hours (big airport) one hour (small airport) 

I can never predict how busy the airport is going to be. Arriving two hours before your flight departs for a large airport and one hour before for a small airport is usually the rule of thumb I follow. I have never missed a flight.

Most landings are a little bumpy

Not all landings are smooth. As the planes are touching the ground expect some jolts along the way.

Check if the airport has room for you to park

The night before a flight I get an email saying the airport had run out of parking. The email suggested I find another way to arrive at the airport than my vehicle. My flight was at four in the morning. Could you imagine arriving at the airport at four AM only to discover there is no parking? Always check the parking situation before heading out. There are also opportunities such as Fast Park & Relax that are cheaper transportation options for parking at the airport.

Download your boarding pass on your phone

Moving towards a paperless world having your boarding passes on your phone saves trees and hassle. If you have an i-phone add your plane tickets to your apple wallet and don’t even worry about printing them off. (Unless you are flying RyanAir which will charge you if you don’t have printed tickets)

Airports all over the world pretty much look the same, but they don’t all have air-conditioning and outlets

When I first started to travel out of the country I worried about navigating my way through unknown airports.I have been in airports in Central America, South America, Europe, and the United States. In that process I discovered airports all over the world have similar qualities and the staff tends to speak several languages, including English.

Many planes have WIFI connectivity now

If staying connected is vitally important to you there is no need to worry. Most airplanes offer WIFI network connection for a small fee so you never have to lose contact with your office or loved ones.

It’s okay to be scared but there is nothing to be afraid of

Driving in a car is overwhelming more dangerous than flying on a plane. It’s expected to be nervous on your first flight, but take a breath and remember that you are in good hands. 

These first-time flyer tips will have you soaring to new heights in no time. 

Other articles you might like:

Game-Changing Hacks for Airport Travel

What Catching A Red-Eye Flight Is Really Like

One response to “Things Every First-Time Flyer Should Know but Doesn’t”

  1. […] Traveling the Eurostar from London to Paris was a new experience I would happily do again. If you do decide to fly instead. Here are a few recommendations; Things Every First-Time Flyer Should Know but Doesn’t […]

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