The travel website Kayak done a survey and found out that 22% of British adults have never been on a plane. Doing anything for the first time is pretty scary, especially if you don’t know what to expect, so heres a few things to know before you before you go on your very first flight.
Booking your Flight
It seems like only yesterday when if you wanted to travel you’d have to go down to your local travel agent , who would book your flight for you , and once booked off you’d go with your paper ticket in hand. Thankfully due to the internet, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own to home to book your flight, and more importantly with a raft of comparison sites you can search for the best flight to fit your budget. Here are a few sites to start with:
- Google flights
When booking be sure the name you use on your flight booking matches the name on your passport exactly , otherwise you could be hit with fees for a name change ( could be as steep as £100 per ticket ) or worst ways you could be denied boarding on the day of the flight if your travel documents don’t match.
If you have any extra requirements such as you have a disability which makes travelling difficult or are traveling with small child , let the airline know well in advance so they can make the necessary arrangements to assist you , this also includes food if your travelling on an airlines that serves food as part of your ticket . You can order a wide range of specalist meals such as low calorie , halal , kosher or vegan but again this needs advance notice.
Where to go on your first flight ?
For your first flight , Its definately worth doing a ‘practice run ‘ take a trip in your own country first. This is good firstly because the flying time will be short ( try and keep it under two hours flying time ) and if you really hate the whole flying experience its easier to get back home rather than be stranded overseas because your too scared to get back on the plane to come home. If your not sure where you want to go, google flights has a nifty feature where you can search flight to anywhere and it lists the countries and flight options and prices.
Get your Paperwork in order
In order to board a plane you will need Photo ID. If your flight is within your own country, acceptable ID other than a passport for flights within the UK would be:
- Valid armed forces identity card
- Valid police warrant card/badge
- Valid photo driving licence
If you decide to go a bit further afield ie abroad, you’ll need a passport. If your applying for your very first passport it can be can be done online via the YouGov website it costs £75.50 for a standard 34 page passport.
or another option is to pick up a passport application form at your local post office ( get two you will make a mistake ) fill it in and then go back to the post office where they will check that you’ve filled out everthing correctly before sending it off securely.
For your first passport this in my opinion this is the best way, because then you know that you haven’t missed anything out and everything is correct. Your first passport will take longer to process, as more backround checks are required. The passport office advises allowing six to eight weeks processing time. For more info on the post office check and send service go to their website , the cost for the passport via the post office is £85.00 again for 34 pages.
Know your luggage limits
As this is your first flight its best to keep it simple , pack light using backpack or overnight bag which can fit under the seat in front or in the overhead locker. Different airlines have different weight limits be sure to check , ignore airline weight limits at your peril , if your caught overweight you will be charged, Ryan Air curently charges an eye watering £20 per kg, you have been warned.
At the Airport
So you’ve got your brand new passport , you’ve packed your bag, and its time to head for the airport. The recommended time to arrive at the airport before your flight is 2 hours for domestic flights ( inside the UK ) and up between 2 to 4 hours for international flights.
Most airlines offer an online check in and a mobile boarding pass stored on your phone.On the boarding pass it will have your seat number if you prefer a certain seat ie window or aisle you can pay for the seat when doing your online booking, this usually costs around £10 on short haul flight up to £80/100 on long haul routes each way. If your over 6ft you may want to consider booking an extra legroom seat , again these options are available when booking.
If you already have checked in online you can bypass the check in desk and head straight for the security area.
An important thing to note is if your carrying liquids in your hand luggage, a single containers must hold no more than 100ml. Containers must be in a transparent, resealable plastic bag and its one bag per person, there are no exceptions, so be sure to pack some travel sized toiletries .
At security you have to remove your coat, belts, any metal objects you have your person and take your laptop and or i pad out of its case and place everything in a tray to go through the scanner , and you will also have to pass through a metal detector, and if your really really lucky you could be chosen for ‘extra checks ‘ don’t panic just follow the security personals instructions and you’ll be fine , unless of course you’ve fired a gun recently or have carried drugs in any of your belongings as swabs can be taken of any part of your belongings , ie inside your bag lining , your bank card , phone etc . If these come up positive needless to say you won’t be making your flight.
So you’ve made it through security now all you need to do is locate you flight on the departure board, and more importantly how far away the gate is from the main concourse, otherwise your gonna have to make a run for it when you realise the gate is 15 minutes away but the gate closes in 10 minutes .
So you’ve made it to the gate , keep your passport and boarding card handy as you will need to show this to the check in agent as you pass throught the gate to the plane. Depending on the airport and airline you will eithier enter the plane via an enclosed walk bridge or have to get onto a bus which will bus you out to the plane and use external steps.
So you’ve made it to your seat , depending on the length of the flight there may or may not be seat back tv’s , a tip is to always take an i pad and / or phone loaded with a few films so you wont be caught out.
Again with regards to food , depending on the flying time your ticket may or may not include food. The good news is food is usually available for purchase on most flights, but you can also bring your own food on board if you wish. Just think of your fellow passengers and leave smelly food at home, sandwiches , rolls , cold pasta are all good things to bring with you and are security friendly.
After everyone is on board the crew will go through a safety demonstration , its extremly important that you pay attention to the safety information , it could literally save your life in an emergency.
Then after everyone’s buckled in its time for the pilot to head for the runway and its up up and away enjoy your flight and then you can look forward to the next one !!!