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First Time Flying? 35 Best Tips for First-Time Flyers

Taking to the skies for the first time can be a daunting experience, but with careful preparation, it doesn’t have to be. While you await your first time flying, there are some tips that you can use to help you have the best experience ever.

These tips work well for an international flight and domestic flights. This guide will help you understand all of the important things from the security checkpoint to understanding your boarding group – and everything in between.

girl looking at of airplane window while flying

In this article:

Best Tips for First-Time Flyers

1. Check-in online

Most airlines allow you to check in online up to 24 hours before your flight. This will help you avoid long lines at the airport and give you a better chance of avoiding a middle seat assignment. Online check-ins are the best because then you also have access to your flight number and gate number, right on your digital boarding pass.

Checking in online for your flight is a great way to save time at the airport. Simply log into the website or app for the airline you’re flying. There should be a button for you to press “check-in.” Once you press that button, you’ll be able to check in for your flight using your confirmation number and last name.

Don’t forget to arrive at the airport early so you can go through airport security and get to your gate on time. If you are checking bags, you will still need to go to the gate counters at the airport. Checking in online is a great way to make flying a breeze, so be sure to give it a try next time you travel.

2. Arrive early

Make sure to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s always a good idea to arrive early at the airport. Check-in and security lines can be unpredictable, and you don’t want to miss your flight because you were running late.

If you’re flying internationally, airlines typically ask you to arrive three hours before your flight.

Arriving early also gives you time to relax and grab a bite to eat before boarding. If you have any time to spare, you can also use it to do some last-minute shopping in airport stores.

Keep in mind that most flights start boarding about 45 minutes before the departure time. Also, know that many flights close the boarding door 10-15 minutes before the departure time.

So, next time you’re booking a flight, make sure to leave plenty of time for airport arrivals. It’ll make your journey that much smoother.

check in kiosks at airport

3. Get travel insurance

Even if you’re only flying for a short trip, it’s always a good idea to get travel insurance. This will protect you in case of any delays, cancellations, or losses. Some credit cards include travel insurance, but often have limitations.

Travel insurance can also cover you in case of injury or medical emergency or if you need to cancel your trip for any reason. Be sure to read the fine print of your policy so you know what’s covered.

Getting travel insurance is a great way to protect your finances while you’re on vacation. It’ll give you peace of mind in case anything goes wrong.

4. Join an airline loyalty program

If you fly frequently, it’s a good idea to join an airline loyalty program. These programs give you points for every flight you take, which you can then use to get free flights or other perks.

Some programs also allow you to upgrade your seat for free or get priority boarding. If you fly often, signing up for a loyalty program can help you save money and make flying more enjoyable.

5. Bring your own food and snacks

Airplane food can be expensive and not always the tastiest. To avoid spending money on airplane food, or going hungry on your flight, bring your own snacks and meals.

You can pack a sandwich, some fruit, or even some chips to munch on during your flight. Just be sure to check the airport’s rules about bringing food through security. Also, be mindful of life-threatening allergies and try to avoid bringing peanuts or tree nuts on flights.

Bringing your own food is a great way to save money and make sure you have something to eat during your flight.

airport terminal

6. Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re flying, as the air in airplanes is very dry. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your flight.

You can also bring your own empty water bottle to fill up after you go through security. This will save you money and help you stay hydrated during your flight.

7. Dress comfortably

When choosing what to wear on your flight, comfort should be your number one priority. You’ll be sitting in a confined space for hours, so you want to make sure you’re wearing clothes that won’t make you uncomfortable.

Avoid wearing anything constricting, like jeans or a tight top. Instead, opt for loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics. I typically wear aerie leggings with a side pocket or prAna hiking pants. I also bring a hoodie or cardigan in case the airport or plane is cold.

Dressing comfortably is key to having a pleasant flight. Be sure to wear clothes that won’t make you feel uncomfortable during your journey.

what to wear on a long flight
Best clothes to wear to stay comfortable on a long flight

8. Bring a neck pillow

If you want to get some sleep on your flight, be sure to bring a travel pillow. This will help you stay comfortable and avoid pain in your neck and back.

There are a variety of different neck pillows to choose from, so be sure to find one that’s comfortable for you. You can also use it on long car rides or train journeys.

9. Use noise-canceling headphones

If you want to block out the noise on your flight, be sure to bring noise-canceling headphones. These headphones will help you sleep or concentrate, and they’ll make your flight more enjoyable.

Noise-canceling headphones are also great for blocking out crying babies or chatty seatmates. Be sure to pack a pair in your carry-on bag so you can use them on your flight.

10. Bring a good book or movie

To make your flight more enjoyable, be sure to bring a good book or movie. This will help you pass the time and make your flight go by faster.

If you get motion sickness, it’s also a good idea to bring a movie to watch. Watching a film can help distract you from the motion of the plane and make you less likely to feel sick. Of course, pack some motion sickness meds like Dramamine and ginger candies.

qatar business class seats

What NOT to Do Your First Time Flying

First-time flyers have a lot to learn – and there are plenty of potential mistakes that can be made along the way. To help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls, we’ve compiled a list of things NOT to do as a first-time flyer. For the most part, these are general rules of thumb for any airline. However, it’s always a good rule to look at the airline’s website to see what they have as acceptable and not acceptable, rule-wise.

1. Don’t forget to pack your carry-on essentials

This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to pack important items like their passport or medications. Make a list of must-have items before you start packing, and double-check that everything is in your bag before you leave for the airport.

2. Don’t overpack your carry-on bag

While it’s important to make sure you have everything you need, there’s no need to pack your entire wardrobe into your carry-on bag. Not only will this make it difficult to lug around the airport, but it could also get you stopped at security if your bag is too heavy or overstuffed.

3. Don’t wear bulky clothes or shoes

Again, security is a consideration here – you’ll want to avoid anything that will slow you down when going through the metal detectors. In addition, bulky clothing can be uncomfortable on a long flight, so it’s best to stick with more comfortable, form-fitting options.

4. Don’t forget to pack your headphones

If you want to watch in-flight entertainment or just drown out the sound of other passengers, you’ll need a good pair of headphones. Make sure to pack them so they’re easily accessible in your carry-on bag or at your seat.

5. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight

This one can be a real budget-buster – airlines typically release their cheapest seats well in advance, so waiting until the last minute to book is almost always going to cost you more. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, try to book your flight at least a few weeks in advance.

You also risk limited seat options when you book too late, and no one wants to pay hundreds of dollars to find themselves stuck with only having middle seats available.

airplanes on tarmac in seattle

6. Don’t neglect to research your destination

Before you book your flight, take some time to research your destination and find out what there is to see and do. This will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time once you arrive.

7. Don’t skip the pre-flight safety briefing

Yes, it can be tedious to sit through another safety demonstration, but it’s important to pay attention in case of an emergency, especially for first-time flyers!

Plus, the safety briefing is your chance to find out where the exits are located – something that could come in handy if you ever need to evacuate the plane. It also helps you know the airline rules.

8. Bring something to keep your busy

Bring some books, magazines, crosswords, or whatever else you need to keep your mind occupied during the flight. Also, check to see how you can watch movies if that’s of interest. Some airlines have seatback screens, while others tell you to bring your own screen (i.e. phone or tablet) and download an app in advance to watch movies or tv shows.

Make sure you have easy access to these items, too. Your seat belt sign may be turned on and you won’t be able to access your upper bin carry-on bag, so keeping your entertainment items in a personal item bag at your feet can come in handy.

9. Don’t forget your travel documents

This one is essential – without your passport or other required travel documents, you won’t be able to get on the plane. Make sure you have everything you need before you leave for the airport and keep your documents handy to present them at security or during boarding.

Take note that if you’re flying domestically (in the USA) you don’t need a passport, but you will need an authorized government ID, like a driver’s license. Starting in May 2023, your state’s ID will need to be REAL ID compliant in order to be used to fly.

10. Don’t dress inappropriately

There’s no need to break out your best clothes for a flight, but it’s important to dress comfortably and avoid anything that could be considered offensive or inappropriate. In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution when choosing your travel outfit. Airlines have the right to refuse you boarding if your clothing is harmful or inappropriate.

Following these simple tips will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-time flyers make. With a little preparation and planning, you can make your first flight an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Tips for First-Time Flyers At the Airport

travelers walking in airport

As you walk into the airport, you may be trying to understand how everything works. This section will give tips for first-time flyers at the airport. These tips will cover how to not get stressed, when you should board the plane, and everything in between.

Try not to get stressed out by security

It’s normal to feel a little anxious when going through security, but remember that everyone is just trying to do their job. Just relax and follow the instructions of the TSA agents. Keep in mind that you should move quickly and try not to get irritated at a TSA agent asking you to do something, it’s just a part of their job.

If it’s your first time flying, you likely don’t have any special security clearance like TSA PreCheck, so be prepared to remove your toiletries bag, your laptop, as well as coats, belts, and shoes. Also know that security checks can be random, so if an alert goes off and you’re moved for a secondary screening, just stay calm and follow the directions.

The security line could be considered the most stressful part of the trip, but the only way to get through it is to stay calm and allow plenty of time before your flight.

Don’t leave your bags unattended

This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people do this. Unattended bags are a major security risk and will likely be confiscated by security. So, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times. This is without a doubt a universal rule in airports. Don’t leave your bags unattended.

Double-check the weight and size of your luggage

This will save you a lot of hassle at the airport. Before you start packing, check for the size restrictions for carry-on and checked baggage for your airline. This will help you avoid any problems at the ticket counter, security, or the gate.

Make sure to weigh your bags before you go to the airport and know in advance what the fees are for checking luggage, so you’re not surprised at the check-in counter.

Don’t drink too much at the airport

You’re probably excited for your vacation and want to start relaxing as soon as possible, but it’s important not to drink too much at the airport. Alcohol can dehydrate you and make it more difficult to adjust to the time change. So, try to limit yourself to one or two drinks.

Airlines can also stop you from boarding if you’re too intoxicated. A first-time flyer should also try not to drink too much since they’ll want to be alert for the new experience and any decisions they need to make.

Grab some food before you get on the plane

If you’re flying during mealtime, make sure to grab something to eat before you get on the plane. Airplane food can be expensive and not very good. So, it’s always a good idea to have a little something in your stomach before you board.

Keep in mind that if you’re bringing any food or snacks on the plane, it’s considerate to try and avoid any strong-smelling foods that will make the plane smell.

Listen for your zone to be called

When it’s time to board the plane, they will usually call out the different zones in order. Listen for your zone to be called and then make your way to the line. Your boarding group should be marked on your boarding pass, but if you’re not sure what zone you’re in, just ask one of the gate agents.

If you want to enjoy dining and shopping at the airport before your flight, that’s fine. Just know that a general rule of thumb is to get to the gate at least 10 minutes before the plane’s boarding time. That’s BOARDING time, not flight time. Boarding time is typically around 30-45 minutes before your flight time and many airlines close the boarding gate door 10-15 minutes before the flight time.

airport gate chairs

Have your boarding pass and ID ready

This will help the process go much smoother. When you get to the front of the line, have your boarding pass and ID out so that the agent can easily scan it. If you’re fumbling around for your things, it will just hold up the line.

First-Time Flying Tips for Getting Off the Plane

Now that you’ve made it through your first flight, it’s time to get off the plane. Here are some tips for making a smooth exit:

Listen to the flight attendants

They will give you specific instructions on when and how to disembark from the aircraft. It’s important to listen to them because that’s what will get you off the plane the fastest! Always be respectful to your cabin crew, I like to always thank them when deplaning.

Be patient

There will be a lot of people trying to get off the plane at the same time as you. Be patient and wait your turn. There’s no need to rush! Also, if you’re in the back, you are going to be waiting a while to get off the plane. While you may be anxious to stand up, you shouldn’t be in a big hurry because everyone else is in the same big hurry – which means everyone will be moving slowly.

Call your ride

When you land, it’s a good idea to check in with anyone who might be meeting you. This way, they will know that you’ve landed and approximately when to expect you.

Have your carry-on ready

If you have a carry-on bag, make sure it’s easily accessible so you can grab it and go as soon as it’s your turn to leave the plane. There’s nothing worse than having to dig around to find your bag when you’re trying to make a quick exit!

bags at airport

Follow the crowd BUT read signs

When you’re getting off the plane, it’s easy to follow the crowd. Many of them might know where they’re going and they’ll lead you to the right place. But, the best thing to do is to look for signs.

If you checked a bag, you’ll want to look for baggage claim signs. If you don’t need to go to baggage claim, you’ll likely head towards that area anyway and look for signs for ground transportation.

Hopefully, these tips will help you while you’re getting off the plane! It can be hard as a first-time flyer to know exactly what to do, but these tips will help you tremendously!

Etiquette Tips for Flying on a Plane

When you fly on a plane, there are certain etiquette rules that you should follow in order to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be respectful of other passengers and try not to disturb them. This includes keeping your voice down, not playing music or watching videos without headphones, and being mindful of personal space.
  • Follow the rules and regulations of the airline and airport. This includes things like not bringing prohibited items on the plane and following security procedures.
  • Be considerate of the crew members and listen to their instructions. This includes staying seated during turbulence and putting away carry-on luggage during takeoff and landing.
  • Try to be patient and understanding if there are any delays or other problems.
  • The person next to you may or may not want to have a conversation with you. It’s okay to say hi and strike up a conversation if the other person seems receptive, but don’t force it if they’re not interested.
  • Pay attention to the seatbelt sign. It’s there for a reason, and it’s important to follow the crew’s instructions for when to buckle up.
  • Be mindful of your personal hygiene. This includes things like using deodorant, brushing your teeth, and wearing fresh clothes. It’s also considerate to not wear perfumes or colognes when flying as some people are sensitive to scents.
  • If you have food or drinks, be careful not to spill them on yourself or other passengers. Also, try not to pack allergens like nuts, and avoid strong-smelling foods.
  • Try to keep your belongings organized and tidy, so that you’re not taking up more space than necessary or causing a mess.
  • Make sure you have your credit card handy, so you don’t have to dig for it when the snack cart rolls through.

Following these etiquette tips will help to make your flying experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

Tips for Sitting in the Small Seats on the Airplane

Sitting in a small seat on an airplane can be quite uncomfortable, especially if you are tall or have long legs. Here are some tips to make the experience more bearable:

  • Wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement. Read my post on what to wear on a long flight.
  • Try to book an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs out into the aisle. But, don’t leave them there. People need to walk through the aisle and your feet don’t belong there.
  • Another option is to book a window seat if you enjoy leaning and want to sleep as the wall of the plane makes that more comfortable than aisle seats.
  • Pack some carry-on essentials to keep you comfortable and entertained.
  • Pack light so you don’t have to struggle with heavy luggage in a small space.
  • Bring a neck pillow and blanket to make yourself more comfortable.
  • Avoid eating or drinking too much before your flight to avoid having to use the restroom frequently.
  • Get up and walk around the cabin every few hours to keep your blood flowing.
  • Wear compression socks to help prevent blood clots.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the flight.
  • Protect yourself from germs by using hand sanitizer and avoiding touching surfaces in the cabin.
  • Long-haul flights can be uncomfortable, so make sure you get up to use the bathroom, so you can stretch!

By following these tips, you can make sitting in a small seat on an airplane more bearable and even somewhat enjoyable. After all, it’s only for a few hours and then you’ll be at your destination!

view of airplane seats from back of plane

Tips for First-Time Flying Anxiety

  • Air travel is the safest mode of transportation and becoming safer. It’s more dangerous to drive or run along a street. A NY Times article quoted an MIT professor who studied air travel and he determined that “flying has become so reliable that a traveler could fly every day for an average of 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash.
  • Develop and learn some stress-coping techniques. Meditation, body relaxation, and calming music can help you relax and combat the anxiety you might feel about flying. If your anxiety is really bad, you can talk with a physician about prescribing you medicine to help you calm down.
  • Keep busy. Load up your phone or tablet with some shows or movies you want to watch or love. Or download some great books that will hold your interest. If you have something else to focus on, it can help keep you from focusing on your fear.
  • Look to the flight attendants; they fly all of the time. Seeing them at ease and going about their work as if they’re on the ground instead of the air can help put you at ease. They’re also the ones to listen to in order to stay safe. If I do have turbulence or worry, seeing them at ease always helps make me realize that everything is operating as normal.
airport gate desk

FAQs for Your First Time Flying on a Plane

Flying on a plane can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if it’s your first time flying. But there’s no need to worry – we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about flying, from the basics of booking a ticket to what to expect during your flight.

What are the different types of aircraft?

The most common type of aircraft is the single-aisle plane, which has one aisle running down the middle of the cabin. These planes are used for short and medium-haul flights.

The next most common type is the wide-body plane, which has two aisles running down the middle of the cabin. These are used for long-haul flights. Most planes are made by Boeing or Airbus.

What are the different classes on a plane?

There are three main classes on a plane: first class, business class, and economy class. First class is the most expensive and has the most amenities, while economy class is the least expensive and has the least amenities. Business class is in between these two extremes, but closer to a first-class experience.

Many airlines have started adding a premium or comfort class to their economy cabin. These seats often have a bit more legroom, but may just include pre-boarding.

What is the difference between a non-stop flight and a connecting flight?

A non-stop flight is a direct flight from one airport to another, while a connecting flight stops at one or multiple airports along the way. Connecting flights could be cheaper than non-stop flights, but they take longer and delays may affect your plans.

There are some cases where a flight is called a direct flight but it’s not non-stop. Direct flights don’t involve changing planes or a different flight number, however, they may involve a stop at another airport to

How do I book a flight?

You can book a flight online, through a travel agent, or by calling the airline directly. When booking online, you’ll need to provide your personal information and payment details. When booking through a travel agent, they will take care of everything for you. When calling the airline, you’ll need to provide your personal information and flight details, and many airlines charge a fee for phone bookings.

Booking online directly with the airline is typically the best option for pricing and cancellation. Although, you can shop for flight options online with various travel sites and

What do I need to bring with me to the airport?

When flying, you’ll need to bring your passport, boarding pass, and any other required documents. You’ll also want to pack light, as you’ll have to carry your luggage with you through the airport. Most airlines have a limit of 50lbs per bag, so be sure to check the weight and size restrictions before packing.

What can I expect during the security screening process?

All passengers are required to go through a security screening before boarding their flight. This usually involves going through a metal detector and having your bags scanned by an x-ray machine. You may also be selected for a random pat-down search.

What should I do if I’m selected for a secondary screening?

If you’re selected for a secondary screening, you’ll be taken to a private area for a more thorough search. This may involve having your bags searched by hand and being asked to remove your shoes and jacket.

What can I expect during the boarding process?

When it’s time to board your flight, you’ll need to have your boarding pass and passport ready. You’ll be asked to show these documents to the gate agent, who will then scan your boarding pass and allow you to board the plane. Once on the plane, you’ll find your seat and stow your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin.

What can I expect during the flight?

Once the plane takes off, you’ll be able to sit back and relax. The flight attendants will come around with drinks and snacks, and you can watch a movie or TV show on the in-flight entertainment system. If you need anything during the flight, just ask one of the flight attendants. They’re there to help!

What should I do if I have a problem during the flight?

If you have any problems during the flight, such as lost luggage or an issue with your seat, just ask one of the flight attendants for help. They will be able to assist you and solve the problem.

What should I do when the plane lands?

When the plane lands, you’ll need to gather your belongings and disembark the plane. If you have any checked luggage, it will be waiting for you at the baggage claim area. From there, you’ll be on your way to your final destination!

These tips for first time flyers are important. If you don’t know what to do when you fly for the first time, this guide will help you out. Once you fly on a plane for the first time, you will be good to go after that! With a little experience, you will become less and less stressed about any flight that you take!

The only thing left to pay attention to when you’re a first-time flyer is yourself. Flying can be the best thing because you get extra time to relax and enough time to finally finish that book you’ve been wanting to read.

pin collage for tips for first time flying

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Friday 26th of May 2023


These are my tips for success. Plan your entire trip carefully. Try to make some brief summary notes. Best of luck. If you can do so, please do check in online. Be kind and friendly too. I love your blog as well.

Smile at folks. It is a good idea to eat dinner at the airport. Give way to people who may be in a rush. Know the general layout of the airport. Also pay very careful attention to security rules. In other simple words it is wise to be totally smart. You can do this.

Never rush. Have fun. An airport does not have to be a scary place. Far from it in fact. Remember that always. Request assistance if that makes you feel better. Stay calm and positive. Arrive early. Recommended at all times.

Beat the long queues. Last week I was at the airport nearest my home. I got there much earlier. Straight after passing security I decided to eat. So I had a meal before going to board. It was really worth it. I ordered fish and chips. Then I did shopping in the airport. Finally I boarded.

Bring puzzles. Pack a entire suitcase in advance. Call the airport ahead of time to help yourself. Inform them you require extra time to get onto the plane in question. I took a bag full of books this time in case. I read them in the departure area of the airport.

Read beyond the lines. I was equipped with hand gel and my water bottle.