• Monday, July 22, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Basic tips to know as a first-time air traveler

Basic tips to know as a first-time air traveler

Air travel can be exciting when you are in the right state of mind. Most people feel anxious when traveling by air for the first time while some feel excited, no matter how you feel there are several things you need to know and do as a first-time flyer to enjoy your flight.

“If you are a nervous flyer, little things can set you off,” says Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie of New York City, founder of the travel blog- ‘The Globetrotting Teacher.’

According to NerdWallet, here are basic tips to know as a first-time flyer.

Check the airline’s luggage requirements

It’s easy to overpack — but if you do, it could cost you. Before your flight, visit your airline’s website to review luggage size and weight restrictions, as well as baggage fees. While these vary by airline and fare paid, here’s what you can typically bring with a standard fare on a major airline:

Two carry-on items for free: one full-size carry-on the size of a small rolling suitcase or smaller, and one small personal item, such as a purse or backpack.

One checked suitcase (often, one weighing under 50 pounds) for $35 to $40. Checking additional bags could cost more.

If your carry-on bag is too bulky, you may have to pay to check it. Likewise, if your checked bag is over a certain size, you may have to pay a higher-than-usual fee to check it. It’s best to avoid these surprises, if possible.

Pack essentials in your carry-on

If you’re packing anything hard to replace like prescription medicine, contacts or glasses, or important paperwork — put it in your carry-on bag. This way, you won’t be without that item in the rare event your checked bag goes missing. You’ll also want to pack some in-flight entertainment, such as your laptop, headphones, and a book or magazine.

Just make sure you’re following the Transportation Security Administration’s rules for what you can pack. You can’t, for example, bring a big bottle of contact lens solution in your carry-on, but you can bring a 3.4-ounce bottle. Keep in mind that if your carry-on bag is too big to fit under the seat in front of you, you may have to check it.

Arrive at the airport two hours early

Catching a plane isn’t like catching a bus; it’s a much longer process. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends showing up at least two hours before take-off for domestic travel, and three hours for international travel.
Ultimately, you need to give yourself enough time to get your boarding pass, check your bags, and go through security before your plane starts boarding. Sometimes, that takes 10 minutes. Other times, especially during peak travel times, it can take much longer.

It’s worth keeping in mind that boarding the plane isn’t a free-for-all, either. Airlines typically start boarding passengers in groups 30 minutes before take-off. Generally, a boarding time will be printed on your ticket.

Keep your ID handy

Decades ago, airport security was relatively lax. “There was one point where you could just walk up to a gate, whether you were flying or not, whether you had ID or not,” Klee says. Nowadays, TSA agents check IDs for passengers over 18.

Save time by having your ID card, driver’s license, or passport handy as soon as you step foot into the airport. You’ll need it when checking bags and going through security, and you don’t want to hold up the line while rummaging through your wallet.

Respect other passengers’ space

These days, flights are generally fully booked, and most seats offer limited legroom. This might stress out your fellow flyers, so be sensitive.

“If any of your stuff or body parts are going into another space that’s not yours, you have to be mindful of that,” Sills-Dellegrazie says. “It can be as simple as you put your ponytail over the top of the seat and now it’s hanging across someone’s TV screen, and you don’t even realize it.”

Similarly, if you wear perfume or cologne, eat smelly foods, or listen to loud music, you might unintentionally upset the person sitting next to you. Of course, you can’t plan for everything, you might be traveling with an upset child for example, but do what you can to avoid embarrassment.

Have a backup plan ready

Now, for a game of “worst-case scenario,” if you miss your flight because of unforeseen circumstances, such as a major traffic delay, most airlines will assist you in booking a new flight on the same calendar day or the next available flight. This rebooking process can vary depending on the airline’s policy, the reason for missing your flight, and seat availability on the new flight. Just remember that you generally need to notify the airline within a couple of hours of missing your flight to get rebooked for free.

If it looks like you’ll miss a connecting flight, check the smartphone app offered by your airline or the screen in the airport to find out which gate your flight departs from, and whether you’ve missed it. If the flight is delayed, you may still have a chance to board. If you miss the connection and the airline was responsible, you can generally also rebook that flight free of charge — and maybe even get some free meals or hotel vouchers for the hassle.

Smart travelers mitigate the risks of unexpected travel disruptions by booking their flights using a credit card with travel insurance or purchasing a separate standalone travel insurance policy.