First Time Flying? 17 Things You Must Know

Attention first time fliers! I read this on one of my facebook friend’s statuses today: (Please excuse any incorrect grammar or lack of consideration in the post!)

“Note to people who dont fly much– when the plane shakes a little, do not put your head on your knees, grab my shoulder and start repeating oh my god, oh my god. Also, when the “thud” occurs during the planes descent, it is typically the landing gear and not a hole ripped into the bottom of our airplane… oh and the air thingy above my head is actually meant to be for me– not ANOTHER source of air for your big head”

Thank you, facebook “friend”, for some helpful (yet uncompassionate) advice. I hope I can be of a little more help to first time fliers.

I clearly remember the first time I flew on an airplane. I was 18 years old (yes, an adult!) the first time I flew. I think my children all have me beat, as each of them have flown before they were even 2 months old.

I was so excited, yet I didn’t have a clue what it would be like to actually fly. As a first time flier, I hadn’t been informed about a lot of things. I was taking a flight from Nebraska to Toronto, Ontario for a mission trip. Our coordinator prepared us for the mission trip, but neglected to teach a few of us first time flyers what it was like to fly. I remember being completely in awe when we flew through our first pillow of cumulous clouds. I never knew clouds looked like that! Amazing. Seeing everything from a bird’s eye view was incredible. I just couldn’t believe I was actually flying. I felt like a little child waking up to the wonder of it all on Christmas morning.

17 Things First Time Fliers Should Know

1. You must go to the check-in counter when you first arrive at the airport. Check in at the counter of your airline. I didn’t even know there were so many airline options! Then proceed to security, and finally to your gate. There are usually small restaurants on the way if you need a bite to eat. But I would eat before heading to the airport, as food will be more expensive there.

2. Keep your ID/passport/boarding passes handy when you arrive at the airport. You’ll need them frequently.

3. Your tray table is actually connected to someone’s seat. On my first flight, I remember getting so excited and leaning forward so I could see out the window. Little did I know, I kept bumping the passenger in front of me. Oops!

4. To open many lavatory doors, you must push on the middle of them. I remember feeling embarrassed when I couldn’t open the door. Lavatories are generally at the back of the plane. If the seatbelt light above your seat is on, you must remain seated, however. Be prepared for a HUGE gush when you flush. Those airplane toilets are LOUD and powerful.

5. You can request a blanket if you are cold. I didn’t realize that I’d freeze on the plane. Now I always carry a long sleeved shirt or jacket with me. You can adjust the flow of air above your head by turning the nozzle.

6. You must store your carryon luggage under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Don’t try to keep your bag on your lap or by your feet. Flight attendants will ask you to move it.

7. If you get sick, there is a white bag located in the back of the seat in front of you. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use one before. And I’m sure glad I knew it was there!

8. There is a call button above your head to get help from the flight attendants. Use it sparingly.

9. You will be in close quarters. Try to keep your arms in your own space. It’s a little awkward sitting so close to a perfect stranger. If you have long legs, request an exit row or be ready to be scrunched up for the duration of the flight.

10. If you have children, you will likely get some disturbing looks. Usually when I walk on the plane with my little ones, I can tell everyone is thinking, ‘Please don’t let her sit by me…’ Then there’s the sigh and breath of relief as I pass on down the aisle.

11. Listen to the flight attendants. They are in charge.

12. If you are in an exit row, you must be willing and able to assist in case of an emergency. If you don’t want to sit there, politely ask to be moved.

13. Seats recline in most rows by pressing a button on your armrest. Be considerate of the passenger behind you.

14. Be friendly and considerate of others. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your rowmates – unless, of course, they look like they’re trying to snooze or are in the climax of their novel. Offer to help someone get settled in their seat by lifting their bag to the overhead bin. Be patient and helpful if you’re sitting by parents of young children.

15. You might have to pay for drinks or snacks. On many airlines, gone are the days of complimentary soft drinks and peanuts or pretzels.

16. You must sit in your assigned seat (as indicated on your boarding pass) unless you’re flying an airline like Southwest. If the flight seems empty after everyone has boarded, it is okay to find a seat in an open area.

17. There could be turbulence, but it’s usually mild. So, just sit back, enjoy the flight, and don’t forget to look at those clouds as you fly by.

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