Travel Newbies: First Flight
The first flight is always a bit strange so we’ve decided to gather some useful information for all of you travel newbies because we know you have a lot of questions about the airport, the planes and the tickets. Wondering what to take, what documents you need, where to go and what to do is normal and we are here to explain all that – from arrival at the airport to boarding the plane and entering the new country that you are visiting.
Knowing that nowadays, most of the people are often booking flights and using planes as preferred method of transport, we would be happy if you could share this post with your friends, kids or nephews that haven’t already done it and might have questions. This will also save you a lot of time explaining, too.
Note: We are not experts, by any means. This is just our humble attempt to describe the basics. If there’s anything we’ve missed or explained wrong, we’d love to hear your thoughts and remarks.
(Текстът на български можете да намерите на втората страница.)
– Identity Card and / or passport.
– A copy of your ID card. You won’t need this at the airport, but it would be nice as a precaution to make a copy of your ID or passport, insurance documents and visas. Send them to your e-mail in case of emergency, lost or stolen luggage. You never know when it might come in handy.
– If you need a visa for the country where you are traveling, check and prepare the necessary documents beforehand. If you have a connecting flight, check what documents you need for the country in between.
– It’s nice to have an insurance and have the document with you, because it has all the information about your rights and emergency contacts.
– Information for your flight. If you’re not using your phone or tablet for this information, it is good to have it printed. The airline usually sends you an online ticket that has the flight and registration number. Print the entire electronic ticket (boarding pass) because it will make it easier for checking in or simply referring to it for times and directions.
At the airport
Normally, the airport has information boards with the current flight status, check in and gate numbers. This is the starting point for you to navigate the airport. You can see whether the flight will be delayed, if the counters for the check in are open and the corresponding number for your flight and airline.
Head over to the check in counter and present your ID or boarding pass. They might ask additional questions like registration number or destination if you have a return or connecting flight. Put your luggage at the luggage carousel where it will be weighed and an appropriate sticker will be attached to it. Half of the sticker goes to your ticket.
Some airports have machines where you can do a self-check in. For them, it usually takes one of the following components to register – name, ID or passport, flight number, ticket number. That’s why printing this information and bringing it with you is pretty useful. After a successful check in, the machine prints out your boarding pass and you can head towards the check in counter where you can leave your suitcase or continue to the gates if you are traveling with a carry-on. The gate number is written at the boarding pass so follow the signs until you find it. Sometimes due to busy airport schedules and delays the gate could be changed and passengers will be notified over the microphone for the new gate.
Checking your luggage
The next step is checking your hand luggage. For this purpose, remove electronics from your bag and place it separately in the box provided by the staff. If you have a belt or watch as well as any other metal things on you, leave them in box, too. Jackets, scarves and winter boots should also be removed and put in the box to be scanned. Go through the scanner door and if there’s no beeping sound, the staff will tell you to continue. Even without any reason the staff can insist on inspecting you, especially if there’s a tight control at the airport due to security reasons. It is a routine procedure so don’t worry. You can then collect your luggage and personal belongings. Double check so you don’t forget anything from your luggage. People often forget small things like passport or keys.
Hand luggage restrictions are similar for most airlines and often don’t allow some liquids or medicine, as well as any sharp objects. Every airline has a specific requirement for the size of your hand luggage so check beforehand especially if you are flying with a low-budget airline.
When it comes to cosmetics and liquids – generally, you can carry up to 1 liter liquids in a transparent vacuum bag, but each item should not exceeds 100 ml. Travel size cosmetics are a great idea in this case. After you and your luggage get inspected you can wait for the gate to open at the lounge area where you can find cafes, bookstores and various duty-free beauty and clothing shops.
Boarding the plane
The gate opens about 40 minutes before the flight and the staff starts to prepare the passengers, checking their documents and directing them to the plane. You will be asked once again to show your passport and ticket. From the airport building to the aircraft itself you might need to have a short walk or to be transported by a buss.
Note: It is recommended to arrive at the airport at least hour and a half in advance for domestic flights and two and a half hours for international flights so you can do all the procedures without worrying.
Inside the plane
A lot of the low-cost airlines don’t have assigned places and you can sit wherever you want, while with the standard airlines you will have the number of your place on the ticket. Luggage storage is above and/or below your seat. During take-off or landing you will be asked to disconnect any electronic devices and to remove your headphones. It is absolutely normal for your ears to feel a bit uncomfortable but they will get better soon, don’t worry! Sit back, put your seat belt on and listen carefully to the stewardess and the safety rules. In regular airlines the food and drinks are served for free while in low-cost airlines you can buy something from their menu. Of course, do not expect too much from the airplane food, especially for shorter flights.
Flights are most definitely not like in the movies where everything is quiet and relaxed. Sometimes there is a turbulence that can range from mild to intense. Relax, this is normal. If the weather is not good, it may take longer for the pilot to land the plane or the landing might not be super smooth. In most cases, everything goes smooth, though. Another thing to keep in mind – yes, the wing of the plane can be moving slightly- if you are seated to that particular window, do not panic, it’s not a glitch in the plane.
Follow the signs (or the crowd of people from your flight) until you reach the queue for border control, where you have to show your passport. Now is the time to take your luggage if you are traveling with a registered suitcase. Depending on the size of the airport there might be quite a few luggage carousels but each of them has an information board with the flight number and when the luggage will arrive.Wait patiently, your luggage will appear … eventually. If not – get help from staff at the airport, they will inform you what the procedures are. If you have insurance that includes lost luggage, contact your insurance company.
Most of all remember that there are signs everywhere and even though it might seem like a huge place, don’t panic if you can’t find your gate. There is always someone you could ask, if you’ve missed your flight or you don’t know what to do next!
And voila! You have successfully survived your first flight and you have arrived to an exciting new country that is waiting for you to explore!
More tips on finding and booking flights can be found here.