My Airport Tips for a Newbie Traveler

If you’re just starting your traveling and are not yet familiar with the little worlds every Airport has inside it, here’s a few tips for you to make your travel experience smoother.

  1. Be Always On Time
  2. Do An Online Check-In
  3. Speed Up The Security Check
  4. At The Gate
  5. In The Plane

1. Be Always On Time

Is there anything more annoying than missing your flight? Yes, there is. The people who miss their flights just because of poor time planning around the flights part of the trip.

You should aways be on time at the airport, since the plane is not going to wait you. There are tightly scheduled slots in place, which if missed, can cause delays.

Delays again can affect the whole airline’s punctuality in multiple routes that same day (and sometimes the day after that), not only that one route and one flight. A delayed flight of course can affect also passengers who have connecting flights on other airlines at the next airport.

All of this adds up to extra costs to the airline, inconvience and possible extra costs for hundreds or thousands of customers, missed connecting flights, inconvience for the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) and finally a global mess is ready and the galaxies explode.

So just don’t be late, please. This goes to all three, check-in (or online check-in) deadlines, the security, and the gate. And if you are late and miss your flight for no real reason, do not complain to anyone but yourself.

2. Do An Online Check-In

If your airline offers the possibility of an online check-in, and you don’t have any special needs why you would need an actual person to check you in, do the check-in online.

Even if your airline doesn’t inform you about the possibility of an online check-in, there might be one available. Check the airline’s own web site and/or if they have an app in the App Store (or Google Play store).

The availability can also vary by airport, and inside an airport by airline. Also, the time frame when the online check-in is available, varies, but is usually available for something like 36 hours to 1 hour before flight.

After the online-check-in, you can usually just walk into a bag drop, which will handle your hold baggage. And once you’ve got that done, you can go to the security with your cabin bag.

If you don’t have hold baggage with you, then you can just go straight to the security after doing the online check-in.

3. Speed Up The Security Check

In order to do your part for a smoothly flowing process from check-in to the plane, you can indeed speed up your security check by preparing yourself and your stuff for it. At the same time you’ll be doing a favor for everyone else.

These are just examples of what you can do, but you’ll get the point.

  • Take your belt off already when you’re standing in the usually slowly progressing security queue (if you can keep your pants up without it ;).
  • Throw the belt and your possible other metal objects like necklesses, rings and similiar to your cabin bag already before going to the queue or when standing in it. This is the way you minimize the number of things you need to pick up from the plastic basket when you’ve cleared the check.
  • When emptying your pockets, consider putting the contents to your bag’s zipper-equipped side pocket instead of spreading everything to the plastic basket. You can unload these from the bag after you’ve exited the security check area.
  • Take your laptop and iPad (or other tablet) out of your bag already before entering the tables where you offload your things to the baskets for screening. At some airports, you’ll have to get your camera also out of the bag, if you’re carrying one.
  • Make sure that you didn’t forget any soda bottles or other liquids into your bag. The classic one is a bottle or can in the bag’s sidepockets.
  • If you’re carrying some of the allowed liquids in allowed amounts, please do bag them in the see-through plastic bags available at most airports. Do this before going to the actual security.
  • Do not joke about bombs or anything other terrorist / violence related anywhere inside the airport, not even to your friends. It is in many cases punishable by law, and everything on this matter will be taken extremely seriously.
  • At different airports the sensitivity of the metal detectors may vary. If you are going to the security at an airport you know has the more sensitive type of detectors, you can indeed take your shoes off your feet already before the security officer asks you to do so. Also even if you don’t know how sensitive the detectors are, if you know your shoes include metal, take them off. Being proactive is good.
  • If you have any implants or e.g. glucose sensors, insulin pumps etc attached to your body or inside your body, tell the security officer about these before you walk through the metal detector.
  • Have your boarding pass and/or identification document (passport, ID, etc) ready when indicated that it’s needed

4. At The Gate

As mentioned before, go to your gate early enough. The boarding time is not a good deadline — I’m usually there already 15-30 minutes earlier, just to be sure.

At the gate, you will most likely be boarded in groups, so check the group number or letter in your boarding pass and follow the instructions given by the gate staff. Nobody likes people who are not waiting for their own group to be called.

If you have your boarding pass on your phone, keep it readily open when boarding starts, and your screen brightness at 100%.

On some flights you could be asked for your passport at the gate, too, even if you have already shown your passport earlier somewhere at the airport. You can get a good indication of that happening or not by observing the people boarding in front of you.

5. In The Plane

do not block others from getting past you to their own seatsWhen you’ve actually got inside the plane and found your seat, do not block others from getting past you to their own seats. So place your cabin bag to the overhead bin as fast (but safely) as you can, and hop on to your seat.

Of course you can also place a bag also under the front seat, if it fits there. This is convinient especially if you have two bags with you (allowed with many airlines, but not all) — place the bigger to the overhead bin and the smaller under the front seat.

And don’t start your flight by adjusting the seatback, because during takeoff and landing, the seatback will have to be in it’s default position. Also the window blinds will have to be open, and the table in a closed position during takeoff and landing.

Yes, I have aviation inked in me…

Conclusion

That’s it, with these instructions you’ll make your (and the fellow travelers’) trip smoother and easier. The possibilities of you irritating others or causing problems are minimized at the same time :). Have a good flight!