First Time Flyers: What To Expect

Advice and insight into flying for first-time flyers, including tips for relaxing and making the experience more positive.

Flying for the first time can be an intimidating experience, especially if you do not know what to expect. The idea of taking a trip at such high speeds in the air can leave you feeling somewhat apprehensive, but rest assured that airlines take extreme measures to ensure safety, and that the passengers' well-being is their primary concern.

Your flight information should be clearly outlined on your ticket, which you will pick up before you board. Make sure you arrive at the airport about an hour ahead of time so that you have ample time to check in luggage, get your tickets, and get to the proper gate for boarding. Planes begin boarding usually between fifteen and thirty minutes before take off. Always be sure to double check your ticket to be safe before boarding.

If you have a tendency towards motion sickness, there is medication such as Dramamine to help this condition, but should be taken before the flight. Just follow the directions properly so that the medication, if needed, will be effective. Sinus medications may also be needed as the air pressure can be difficult to adjust to when going from lower to higher altitudes and vice versa. Relieve any pressure in your ears by moving your jaw open and closed or by holding your nose closed and gently blowing. This will help equalize the pressure and make it less painful. This will be more pronounced your first time flying, but gradually becomes more tolerable. Some people, especially children, even chew gum to help with this, and bottles or pacifiers help babies and toddlers equalize pressure.



Be prepared for enclosed spaces on board. This is very difficult at first for people with the tendency to become claustrophobic, but can be dealt with by a focus on relaxation and taking slow, deep breaths. First class or business class provides more space but is more expensive, and is still going to feel somewhat enclosed. Depending on your preference, you can request a window seat or aisle seat, and sometimes your position in the plane tends to help lessen feelings of claustrophobia, such as being in the front as opposed to the back of the aircraft.

Airline attendants are on board to make your flying experience a positive one. Listen and be alert to any instructions from the attendants or the pilot himself. Pay attention to pertinent information. You'll see the attendants when you board the plane and they will be serving you drinks, snacks and/or meals during your flight, and are there to offer assistance if needed. They will show you safety flight instructions, so pay close attention, and don't be afraid to press the call button if you need assistance, such as a blanket or pillow. Take every opportunity to make yourself comfortable so that you can relax and enjoy the flight.

You may find yourself seated next to strangers. This is uncomfortable at first as it will feel as if your personal space has been violated in such close quarters, but they are probably just as uncomfortable as you, and will either attempt to make conversation or remain quiet. You can signal your willingness to talk or need for quiet through simple body language. Most people will take the cue.

The cabin can get cold sometimes, so it is a good idea to dress fairly warmly, and utilize the blankets offered. The seats are fairly comfortable and can be reclined back once in the air. The lavatories are usually small and cramped, but adequate, and most often located at various points on the plane, usually the front and back. Whether flying by night or day, there is always ample light for reading, but you can shut the reading light off if desired. There is also extra oxygen if needed, and this helps during takeoff and landing, but the valve can be turned off while in the air. There are also meal trays that can be put away when not in use, usually located on the back of the seat in front on you.

Some flights, usually the overseas flights, show in-flight movies. This can help you relax and make the time pass by faster. Reading material is also a good way to spend the time while flying. Some people even bring their laptops along. Bring what makes you feel comfortable, but do not overpack your carry on luggage. Most often, you will be restricted to two bags for carry on luggage, and it isn't fair to take up extra space that someone else may need. Bring any necessary medications, perhaps a change of clothes for long flights, reading material, the necessary items if traveling with children, and snacks. Pack sparingly choosing only the necessary items for carry on and it will make the trip much easier. Your goal is to fly comfortably, and excess baggage can become a burden.

Not every flying experience will be optimal. Problems do arise, such as having the back of your seat kicked. You can choose to ask the flight attendant to bring the problem to the source's attention, or if the flight is not full, request a move to another seat. For the most part, problems are minimal, but try and deal with them effectively if they arise. This will make your flying experience easier. Also, be mindful of passenger etiquette. Don't act in any manner that you would be annoyed with. Make your flying experience as stress-free as possible, and you will be more likely to have a positive flight.

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