Written by Erich Allen
So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to catch your first ever flight. You may have been holding off because of ticket prices, you prefer road trips instead, no reason to fly, or—one of the more commonly heard reasons—you always had a fear of flying. Regardless of the reason holding you back in the past, now is the time to go, but something that you considered is that it is 2022 and you have never been on an airplane. While we admit, there can be some hurdles to climb and that navigating airports for first-time travelers is stressful. However, believe us when we say that the process is fairly easy to navigate one if you just embrace a few tips.
It’s 2022 and connection to airlines through mobile applications makes the check in process a much easier one to navigate. We recommend that if you book your flight in advance, install the app to the airline that you will be flying with. Once you are within the 24-hour window, you can already check-in for your flight through the app, saving you time and stress. Through the app you can track delays, change, and even upgrade seats, add your TSA pre-check information, and even book a new flight if your original one gets cancelled, without even having to call the airline. Now, the only thing that you have to do is check your bag once you arrive at the airport (if you will be checking a bag at all).
Pick your seat wisely
Picking a seat may seem like a trivial task to some, but it this can be the difference between levels of stress. If you have the airline app on your phone, you will be able to pull up the seating map and check where you have been assigned, as well as what is available to switch to at no cost. If an upgrade option is available, that will be there as well. As a seasoned traveler, my level of care for this area typically depends on the length of the flight. For longer flights, it may be more of an advantage to grab a window seat, if you plan to catch a nap and want a wall to lean against in the process. If you have a smaller bladder, you may want to take an aisle seat instead, so that when the time comes, you won’t need to have one of those awkward moments where you need to wake the person up just to get out of your seat to use the lavatory. Needless to say, depending on the location on the airplane you will wait longer to board or disembark the plane after landing, and in a time-crunch minutes matter! Sometimes on the larger international flights, it can take as many as 20 minutes to get off of a plane.
Leave space in the bag
Going through security is a headache for everyone, but still less for some. Sometimes, especially in a hurry, it can be frustrating to be behind the traveler who waits until the last second to remove everything from their person, before going through detection. Keep space in your carry on to quickly store your watch, wallet, phone, jewelry, belt, etc. Stopping at a seating area before walking up to security to remove these items and store them can save you critical time at the security check-point, and you’ll be presided for not being that person who has so much to strip down while a long line of travelers waits and looks on in frustration.
We can all agree that coach food is not the best at times, and this can sometimes invite passengers to bring their own food on the airplane. Just keep in mind that we need to be respectful of others and do our best to try and avoid the more … heavy scented foods. It is not uncommon to see a person bring a sandwich, small snacks, or a coffee with them on the plane. However, from time to time, someone will open a plate of something that comes with a strong scent, putting off others around them. Some snacks to consider would be dry foods, such as crackers, cookies, or perhaps even some chips. These will tide you over and not disturb others around you too much.
Does it matter what you wear on an airplane? Not always, but for some flights it does. Longer distance flights remain at higher altitudes for longer times, and therefore usually get chilly. The airlines are typically good about providing a pillow and blanket, but even so, the temperature can still be too cold for a person’s taste. Also, something worth noting, at the height of COVID, airlines were not issuing blankets and pillows. So, we know that you can’t wait to get to Brazil, Portugal, or any other warm location, but we recommend holding off on the shorts and t-shirt for the flight. If you must wear these items, it can be a good idea to carry a sweatshirt or pair of comfortable east-to-put-on pants in your carry-on and remove them once at the destination. For parents, keep in mind that it is always recommended to bring a blanket for your little ones.
In conclusion, traveling by airplane for first-time flyers can be stressful, no matter what you do to mitigate it. However, if you take care of the things that are within your control, you have more time to deal with the mental stress of dealing with the unknown. Don’t leave yourself too little time to figure things out and just hope to do it on the fly. There is no need to add stress to the situation when it is absolutely controllable. Safe travels!