One of my buddies on the gram, @gradientconcept asked me to help him out on what to expect for his first flight! The craziest thing is, this information is different based on the person and their own methods of travel, the airport you’re going from/to, etc. It’s very subjective but after your first experience you will learn your own way to do things.
I feel like if you have been on a trip before then it will be the same packing process that you go through. You make a list based on your needs and what you cannot live without and you will need to check it off as you are packing and then you check it twice to make sure that you did not leave anything out. Trust me, I do this three times and I still left my MacBook on the way to leave for Belize in January. It’s important not to think you grabbed everything because this is not a road trip and you can’t turn around and go back home to grab it.
Me personally, I prefer to have my luggage checked and carry a back pack with my necessities. I touched on a lot of this in a previous blog called TIPS: Get Through Airport Security Faster. I do this because it’s easier to move through the airport without dragging luggage around. Depending on the airline, if you are not a card member (I’m a card member of Delta, Southwest and American Air), you will pay for the checked bag but trust me if you happen to be in the Dallas airport with a large carry on and backpack with 15 minutes to get to your gate,after your connecting flight came in late, you would rather just be free to sprint and not trip over your luggage.
If you are not a card member of the airline and hate standing around waiting your turn, you will want to check into your flight exactly 24 hours before it boards. Some airlines have the option for you to pay for the option to board early but I am cheap so I would rather make sure that I get myself on the boarding group I prefer. You may think that this is not a big deal but when you experience the wait to get on the plane, you may have second thoughts.
Please make sure that you have read and reread the terms and conditions of the airline’s rules prior to getting to the airport. You should do this before you book a flight. You should not book flights ignorantly and you don’t know how the airline operates. Spirit Airlines has bad reviews but it’s only because people do not read. READ.
Depending on your airport’s organization, size and the time of your flight, you will want to get to the airport at the recommended 2 hours before your flight. I typically take morning flights, if your flight is at 6 or 7am, if you arrive 2 hours early you will beat TSA to work so you may want to show up an hour before your flight so that you are not waiting until you can go through security.
When you first arrive to the airport, depending on the airport and airline, you will have options to let someone check your luggage or there will be self service options. Some people print out their boarding pass at home but I don’t. When you check into your flight at the kiosk, it will print it for you and most airlines have an app with your boarding pass.
Once you have your pass, you will want to go to the counter to check your bag. Please make sure that you have your form of ID out when going to the counter with your boarding pass and bag to make things go by faster. Once they check your bag and pass you your bag receipt, you’re off to security.
If you are returning from an international trip, that’s a whole blog that I will be writing within the next day or so. However, international airports from my experience don’t require you to be there that early. You would just need to give yourself the time for things to go wrong.
I blogged about this already, see the link above but for the first time in my life when I visited Belize I had my groin checked. I am not sure why they thought something was hiding in my panties but it was uncomfortable. You feel dirty after and you want to get their email address to send your PayPal invoice but don’t take it personally. Security is a piece of cake as long as you follow the instructions in my previous blog.
On the Inside
The airport is full of options to eat, shop and buy. Do not eat, shop or buy unless it’s completely necessary! Everything is overpriced. The dollar menu ain’t the dollar menu no more. If you left your USB charger, it will cost you a quarter million dollars in the airport. Even the post cards are overpriced! Trust me, unless you are going to hell, all of that stuff will be waiting for you when you land and step out into the real world. Convenience has fees.
My fran Carla, wrote a post about making it easier to travel with kids but I am actually incorporating this into my next carry on which is the snack packers. Pack your own snacks so that you don’t waste your vacation money in the airport.
Ya’ll they say the first steps to recovery is admitting things to yourself and I must say I am terrified to fly now. If you think that you will have bad anxiety, build your playlist like I did and make sure that you play a song that calms your mind down. As of late, mine is Bad and Boujee by the Migos. Tyga tried to come on when I was taking off and I had a panic attack about me about to have a panic attack listening to Tyga. Have your music ready. I typically take a sleeping pill about 10-20 minutes before boarding so that I fall asleep right after take off.
If you are wanting to make sure that you can take cute aerial photos like I do when I fly, be sure to choose the window seat when booking your flight or if you don’t have the option to choose your seat, make sure that you are in the best boarding class to choose the seat that you want.
Make sure that you pack gum so that you can chew it while your ears are popping mid flight. It helps. Don’t ask me how it helps because I don’t know.
Lastly, make sure you look at all the people on your flight! This will help you at baggage claim.
If you have a layover, be sure to check your airlines app or the flight monitor outside your gate to make sure that the gate has not changed between the time that you were in the air and landing. If you don’t have a clue what you are doing or where you are going, it’s okay to ask questions.
When you get to baggage claim, it can be chaotic. However, if you paid attention to who you were on the flight with you will be able to ignore the monitors and follow them around until they wait stationary for the luggage to come out. I am a baggage claim stalker. Hell, half the time I just follow the crowd because I know we all gotta be going to the same place.
More questions on what to expect? Comment!