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How to Act at the Airport

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Even experienced travelers once had their first flight. They didn’t know where to go, what to do, or where to board their plane.

If you’re going to travel by plane for the first time, use these instructions from 5-Minute Crafts. They will tell you what to do and where to go if you find yourself at an airport for the first time.

1. Arrival

3-4 days before the flight, make sure you have a plan for how to get to the airport. Call a taxi, book a seat on a bus, or plan your route on public transport. 1 day before the flight, go to the airport website, find the schedule, and make sure that your flight is not canceled or delayed. Also, check if the size and the weight of your luggage are in accordance with the rules. If they’re not, you might have to pay extra.

If you have a domestic flight, you should be at the airport 2 hours in advance and 3 hours in advance if it’s an international flight. This is how much time you’ll need to check-in for your flight, check-in your luggage, go through security, and board the place.

Even without any delays, all the procedures take 40-50 minutes. But often, there are lines at check-in counters, the security check takes more time than planned, or the gate changes, so you have to move from one part of the airport to the other, quickly. All of these things take time, so in order to make it on time, it’s better to arrive nice and early.

2. Security check at the entrance

In some countries, there’s a security check at the airport entrance. This is necessary for additional security. For example, in India, they ask you for your passport and ticket to make sure you’re not there to walk around the airport. And in Russia, you have to go through a metal detector.

There may be a line at the entrance, which is another reason to arrive at the airport early.

3. Check-in for the flight

The first thing you should do is come to the screens with departure timetables and find your flight there. You will see the numbers of the check-in counters. Find them by reading the signs or asking airport employees.

Usually, there are 2-3 lines for economy class, business, or first class. There might also be just 1 line. It all depends on the airline.

When it’s your turn, show the employee your passport and the printed ticket. The latter is needed if the airline required it when you bought the ticket. The employee will check your information, take your luggage, and print out your boarding pass.

In some airports, the check-in process is automatic. You just need to scan your passport in a special machine. It will find your booking information and print out the boarding pass. If you have trouble doing this, ask an airport employee.

Self check-in counters in Singapore

4. Security check

There’s a security check in all airports around the world. Its goal is to find out if passengers have any prohibited items or substances on them. You will be asked to put your carry-on luggage (like a bag or backpack) into one container and all your devices or metal objects into another.

The containers will go on the conveyor belt through the scanner. The airport security will see what’s in the bags. While the items are scanned, the passengers are checked through metal detectors.

5. Waiting for the flight

After the security check, don’t rush into the nearby restaurants or duty-free stores. First, find your gate (you can see its number on your boarding pass).

This gate is where you board the plane. All of them have numbers, and you can use the signs to find them. When you find your gate, make sure you have enough time before boarding, and only then should you visit cafes or stores.

Also, you can save time in business lounges. These are areas where passengers can rest before the flight in comfortable chairs, eat, and drink. Also, in some lounges, you can take a shower. It’s a great idea if you are going to have a long flight. The entrance to such areas is not free but some banks offer free access if you’re a client of theirs.

The lounges are usually a bit away from the main waiting areas, but you can easily find them. This is The Grand Lounge Elite in Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City.

6. Boarding

Usually, boarding ends 30 minutes before the flight. This means that you should be at the gate 45-60 minutes before the departure time on your boarding pass.

At the gate, you will see the airline employees. Give them your passport and your boarding pass. After that, go onto the plane. There are 2 ways to get there, either by airstair or jet bridge.

Airstair is a set of stairs you use to get onto the plane. For security purposes, passengers are transported to the airstair in special buses.

A jet bridge is a special corridor that connects the airport to the plane.

Board the plane, put your carry-on luggage above your seat, and sit down.

In the Vancouver International Airport, Canada, passengers board planes through jet bridges.

7. Arrival at the airport

After the plane touches the ground, keep your seatbelts fastened before the plane fully stops.

On planes, there are usually 6-10 seats in each row. If you’re sitting at the window or in the middle, don’t rush to get out of the plane. Wait for the passengers sitting in the aisles to get up and retrieve their carry-on luggage. When the door outside opens and the line starts to move, you can try moving outside. If you get up too early, you will have to wait for a chance to go out in a very uncomfortable position.

8. Passport control

After you leave the plane, follow the signs to get to passport control (immigration). It’s only necessary if this is an international flight. If it’s a domestic flight, you will go into the baggage claim area right away.

There will most likely be a line. Wait for your turn, come to the immigration officer, and give them your passport. You will probably be asked several questions about the purpose of your trip, its duration, and your finances for the trip. Also, in many countries, they might you ask to scan your fingerprints to compare them to their database.

If everything is fine, the officer will stamp your passport. After that, you can go to the baggage claim.

9. Baggage claim

The baggage reclaim area is a place where you get your luggage back. Read the screens to find out where your flight’s luggage is.

It usually takes 15-30 minutes for the luggage to appear on the conveyor belt after landing. Find your bags, double-check that they’re yours, and if everything is fine, keep going.

10. Exit to the city

After you get your luggage, you will get into the arrival area where you’ll see cafes, restaurants, ATMs, and stores to buy small items. But most importantly, you can use the signs to find taxi stands, buses, cars, underground transportation, or train stations. Choose your way of transportation that you need and go there. You have just finished your first flight!

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