For most of us, flying isn’t a part of day-to-day life. While some people are regular flyers, breezing through the airport with neatly packed suitcases and plenty of frequent flyer miles, that’s not the reality for those of us who rarely fly and still feel all of the confusion, anxiety, and unfamiliarity every time we have to go through the process of flying. But don’t worry – we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you handle every step of the flight process, so you can feel more comfortable when you fly.
Read on to find out our top tips on booking cheap flights, figuring out what you can pack, arriving at the airport, getting through airport security, and enjoying the flight itself.
Booking Cheap Flights
Flights can be wildly overpriced or fantastically inexpensive. If you know how and where to look, you can find very reasonable prices for most flight routes. It’s easy to book flights online these days, although you can also book through a travel agent or over the phone if you prefer.
When it comes to searching online, make sure to check both travel sites (like Skyscanner.com and Booking.com) and the website of the airline itself (like Delta.com) because prices for the same ticket will often vary across websites. Start looking for flights ahead of time and aim to book at least six weeks before your flight if possible. To get the lowest rates, look for flights on Tuesday or Saturday and search for early morning flights. You can save hundreds of dollars if you’re willing to fly at unpopular times like these.
Packing – What Can You Take On A Plane?
Before you pack, you need to figure out how much baggage you can bring, and in what form. Most airlines will charge extra for you to check a bag, and most will let you bring a small bag or two on the plane with you. If you pack well, a carry-on bag can easily get you through a short trip. Try tightly rolling your clothes instead of folding them and be realistic about what you’ll need while you’re away. It can be easier to wash clothes, if that’s a possibility, rather than bringing enough fresh clothing for a two-week trip. However, you do need to be careful about what you pack in a carry-on suitcase, or you might get held up at security or have to throw something out.
You can only bring liquids in bottles under 100 ml on the plane, and they must be stored in a clear, resealable bag (medications and liquids for babies are generally exempt from this rule). Make sure you pack and larger liquids in your checked luggage. You can usually bring food onboard, as long as it isn’t in liquid or gel form. Be careful with sharp objects – while disposable razors and tweezers are fine, you can’t bring pocket knives onboard. Of course, it’s always best to look at which airline you’re flying with and check their website, as well as the TSA website, to find out the specifics of what you can and can’t bring before you pack.
Getting Through Airport Security
When it’s time to go through airport security, you’ll need to show your ID and boarding pass. Then you’ll have to send your bags through the scanner and walk through a screening machine. Many flyers find these processes quite daunting, but they are usually quick, simple, and stress-free. You’ll have to put all your luggage on the carousel to go through the X-ray machines. At this point, you’ll also need to take off your shoes and coat or jacket, and remove anything from your pockets. Put these items into one of the containers provided along with your resealable bag of liquids and send them through the X-ray machine too.
Meanwhile, you’ll walk through the screening machine and then your bags, liquids, and outerwear will be returned to you. If either screening machine flags something unusual, you may have to go through some extra screening, but the whole process is generally quick and easy.
After security, you’ll find your gate and board your flight. Stow anything you won’t need during your flight in the overhead lockers and make sure you have all the creature comforts you’ll want to make the flight as enjoyable as possible. This might include headphones, a book or tablet (in airplane mode, of course!), and a warm jacket in case you get chilly. Listen to the safety message that the crew delivers and remember that the vast majority of flights go perfectly smoothly.
During the flight, try to relax and help the time pass quickly by reading, watching a movie, or sleeping. If at any point you’re feeling nervous, remember that you can ask the flight attendants any questions you might have about your flight, or check in on when you’ll be landing. On a long flight, get up and take a walk up and down the aisle every couple of hours if you’re feeling restless. And remember: you’ll be back on solid ground before you know it.
How do you cope with flying? Leave a comment down below and let us know your top tips.