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Tips for First Time Flyers

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Flying for the first time can be stressful and overwhelming, but these tips for first time flyers will make your trip a lot easier.

Before You Fly

1. You’ve bought your tickets and, depending on the airline, there are different ways to get your boarding pass. You can typically print them at home or print it them at the airport. Note that some carriers, like Allegiant and Spirit, will charge you to print your boarding pass onsite. Others, like Southwest, have kiosks where you can easily print your passes. Make sure you have your reservation number or itinerary number handy.

2. Some airlines charge you for selecting your seat in advance. If you’re flying solo or don’t care where you sit, you can gamble on letting the airline seat you for free. If you’re flying with a group or family and want to sit together – pay up and pick a seat in advance.

3. Packing for the plane can be limiting and restrictive. Thanks to different carriers using different fee systems – make sure you check to see what your baggage allowance is and the airline’s specific dimensions for their definitions of personal items, carry-ons, and checked bags. Each airline can vary and have different limitations on measurement and weight.

4. Your carry-on or personal item bag will be all you have for that long flight. Sometimes it’s difficult to get to your carry-on or item stowed in the overhead bins. Make sure you have your vital items like headphones, cell phone, laptop, or whatever you can’t live without packed in your personal item you tucked away under the seat in front of you for easier access.

Related: What to Do When Your Flight is Cancelled or Delayed

TSA and Checkpoints

1. TSA is constantly changing rules, adjusting protocol, and instituting new procedures. Make sure you familiarize yourself with any new policies.

2. Have your ID and boarding pass ready. The first step in the TSA check is to verify your ticket and who you are.

3. Currently, you can’t bring a full water bottle or liquid on the plane. Pack your toiletries in your checked bag and stow an empty water bottle you can fill after you get through TSA check points in your carryon. It will save you some cash, plus don’t ever drink the plane’s tap water. Ever.

4. Make sure you pull your laptop from its bag and place it in the bin to be scanned on its own. No other devices or even shoes should be in the grey tub with your laptop.

5. Wear shoes that you can easily get on and off. Currently, children under the age of 12 and some senior citizens do not have to remove footwear. Everyone else needs to be prepared to slip shoes on and off quickly, as TSA keeps the line moving like cattle.

On the Plane

1. Get your items stowed and sit down to keep the line of people trying to board moving. Flight attendants are not required to help you lift your carryon into the overhead bins, but most will if you ask nicely.

2. Stow your bag with vitals under the seat in front of you for easy access to pills, headphones, gum, or your beverage.

3. Pressure on the plane can make your ears pop. Try and bring gum to chew to help alleviate the discomfort.

4. Those packets of peanuts and that tiny cup of soda are no longer free through various airlines. While Southwest will give you those goodies gratis, other lines – like Spirit – charge for those treats. Ask about charges before you’re handed a $5 back of pretzels.

5. The bathroom is not a place you want to be, but sometimes nature calls. Do not wait outside the occupied toilet, especially at the front of the plane. It violates safety rules. When inside, get in and get out. Save your makeup touch ups or selfies (ahem…Kim Kardashian) for later.

6. Don’t use the call button to bug the flight attendants unless it’s an emergency. Ask any questions as they come by for beverage service. (No, they don’t’ know if you will make your connecting flight, and no they don’t know when the plane will get clearance to land.)

Related: Flight Attendants Can’t Do These Commonly Asked Things By Law or Regulation

Flying doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. The best piece of advice is to be polite and realize everyone is in the same situation you are. Be considerate of others, and the staff, and be aware of your rights should a problem arise. We have a great roundup of flying situations and your rights as a passenger here at – Airline Passenger Rights for Bumped, Canceled or Delayed Flights.