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27 July 2023

First-time flying on a plane

A guide to what to expect and how to prepare

When flying for the first time, it is difficult to know what to expect. But one thing’s for sure, it’s better to prepare than to repair (or in the case of flying, be bored on the plane). In this article, we will share our tips on how to prepare for you first time flying alone.

The fun starts at home

Did you think the fun starts when you are actually near the plane? Well, you are wrong. The fun should start at home. It gives many people great delight to plan and think about traveling and visiting beautiful places far away.

Here are a few tips to ensure that not only your experience at the airport and on the plane are optimal, but also how to have the most fun beforehand.

  • Book your flight well in advance. This will help you get the best prices and give you peace of mind that you have a seat. Because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to save 10 euros on a 2000 euro ticket.
  • When booking, consider what you’ll need for your trip and pack accordingly. Remember that you may have to pay extra for checked luggage. This depends on the airline and the booking conditions. A rule of thumb: there’s no extra charge for checked luggage on long, intercontinental flights. But traveling with a budget airline? Well, be prepared to pay handsomely.
  • Speaking of packing, consider where you are going and what the purpose of your trip is. For a short trip, you can pack light so you don’t have the extra charge for checked luggage. Bring a few essential items, such as a change of clothes, toiletries, and a book or magazine to keep you entertained on the plane.

First time flying tips

Are you going to fly for the first time? Then it might not be entirely clear how everything works. In fact, there are many things you need to consider. This blog will cover the following items for preparation:

Travel documents

When travelling by air, it is always very important that you have the right travel documents. Bring your passport. Check the expiration date, your passport should be valid for more than 6 months after your return flight. Also bring your boarding pass and, if necessary, a visa. The most important piece of information on your boarding pass is the QR code. It’s fine to display the QR-code from your phone. Just make sure your battery is full.

It is also important that you have sufficient means of payment with you. Think of a debit card, a credit card and some cash that you can use or exchange in case of an emergency.

Tip: if you are flying for the first time, your payment cards may be limited to just your country or your continent.  Check the settings of your card with your bank and make sure payments are enabled for the where you are going to.

Checking in online, including baggage

Checking in for the first time can be exciting. The fastest way to check in is online from home. Many airlines allow you to check in online from 48 to 24 hours in advance via their website or an app.

You can print the boarding pass you receive after checking in, but all modern airports can also scan the boarding pass from your phone.

If you checked in from home, you can proceed directly to security at the airport if you only have hand luggage. If you also have checked luggage, be on time. The line can be long.

If you arrive at the airport, check the displays with all the boarding information. Go look for your flight and check which counter you can check in from.

Check-in at the airport at the counter or via self-service

Want the full first -time-flying-experience? Don’t check in online, but do it at the airport. This might be a fun experience, because this is were you’ll first see your fellow passengers.

However, keep in mind that it may take some extra time. How does it work? Check the airport website or check the information screens in the departure hall to see which desk you need to go to for check-in. The desk clerk will then help you check in and handle your luggage.

At some airports – such as Schiphol Airport – there are self-service check-in kiosks in the departure halls. This is another option for checking yourself in and printing a boarding pass.

Be on time, arrive early

If you are flying for the first time, you are probably wondering how long in advance you have to be at the airport. It depends on the airline and your destination. In any case, stick to your airline’s recommended time.

You should allow about two hours for departure for flights within Europe and three hours for intercontinental flights.

Please note that check-in desks often close 45 minutes before departure! So be on time. The plane won’t wait for you.

Another reason to be on time: tax free shopping! After checking your travel documents with security, there are many shops that sell items without VAT. The shops usually specialize in luxury items.

Waiting times

During busy holiday periods, it is advisable to allocate extra time, as there will likely be longer waiting times. This information is typically available on the airport website. If you are traveling with a pet, have oddly shaped or oversized baggage, or require special assistance due to a disability, it is important to allow additional time as well.

But if this is your first flight, you might like to take your time and explore Schiphol or your departure airport.

Travelling in comfort

This can’t be stressed enough: comfort first, appearance second. Yes, you might look like Mickey Mouse when sleeping in an airplane because of your neck pillow, headphones, sleep mask and comfy clothes, but who cares? No one will judge you… not even those perfectly looking flight attendants.

It is important to feel comfortable, especially on long flights. For example, wear comfortable clothes like looser trousers and bring a jumper or cardigan. The plane can be quite cold due to the air conditioning, so keep in mind that your feet may swell while flying. A good tip is to bring a pair of nice socks so you can take off your shoes during your first flight.

First time on a plane

Drink plenty of water and avoid coffee and alcohol as much as possible. A handy tip is to bring a refillable bottle so you can fill it before taking off. Bring a small jar of day cream and lip balm with you to keep your skin and lips supple.

Also, make sure to move around occasionally during the flight, such as walking back and forth or doing some exercises in your seat. During landing, your ears may need to pop, so take some chewing gum with you. You can also buy special ‘earplanes’ earplugs to reduce the pressure on your ears.

Other tips for first-time flyers

Here are a few more tips to help reduce your uncertainty:

  • If possible, choose a smaller airport so that it is quieter and more manageable.
  • Leave home well in advance. This prevents unnecessary anxiety in case of traffic jams or public transport delays.
  • Book a parking space at the airport in advance or make sure you know exactly what your itinerary looks like if you are going to the airport by public transport.
  • Book a non-stop flight or a flight with a long transfer time.
  • It is never fun to have to argue with taxi drivers upon arrival for an affordable ride to your hotel. It’s better to use a local car sharing app that provides you with immediate clarity on the price, route, and estimated time of arrival. Do some research when you are still at home, and download the app.
  • If you are flying for the first time, you would want to keep your family informed about your arrival. Therefore, check if your mobile service provider offers coverage at your destination. If not, search online for a local e-sim to ensure you stay connected during your trip.

Claim your money with EUclaim

Is your first flight unexpectedly delayed or cancelled at the last minute? You can easily check your flight number whether you are entitled to compensation. This can be up to €600, a nice bonus for a first flight.

Save yourself the hassle of contacting European airlines for your compensation. Let us do the hard work for you. EUclaim was founded in 2007 and has helped nearly 700,000 passengers successfully claim compensation. We are the European airline industry’s experts when it comes to standing up for passengers’ rights.

Click below to check if your cancelled or delayed flight is eligible for financial compensation.

Written by Jerrymie

Jerrymie Marcus came into contact with EUclaim due to a 4-hour delay. The writer received 600 euros in compensation through EUclaim.

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