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Tips for flying for the first time

Many first time flyers worry about arriving without the necessary paperwork to board their flight, and this can make for a nervy first trip to the airport. (PHOTO/FILE)

ENTEBBE – Is it your first time flying? If you’re a plane virgin looking ahead to your maiden flight, you’re sure to have a few questions, some of which you may be too embarrassed to ask your jet-setter friends. If your first flight is long-haul, you’ll want to read our tips for long haul flights and advice for sleeping on a plane.

The PML Daily summarizes key tips from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Advisory Circular (AC) which we hope will help you to breeze through your first flight with confidence and excitement.

The Circular provides information about the items that are required to be or should be, covered in oral passenger briefings and on passenger briefing cards.

The AC provides specific information about Commercial Air Transport Operators engaged in passenger-carrying operations. It also provides suggestions about making this information interesting and meaningful.

Many first time flyers worry about arriving without the necessary paperwork to board their flight, and this can make for a nervy first trip to the airport. The main point to remember here is that the most important document is your passport: make sure it’s up to date and ideally has at least three months to go before its expiry whenever you travel internationally.

Be sure to book your travel insurance before you leave for your destination. Print out your policy documents and bring them with you – make sure you have the emergency number for medical assistance and a rundown on what your chosen policy covers.

Most airlines now issue e-tickets that can be shown on your smartphone. So if you booked online and were expecting a paper ticket to arrive in the post: don’t panic – you will usually be issued with all the information you need to show staff at the airport in your confirmation email, which can come from the airline you’re flying with or from a third-party.

Once you’ve shown this at the check-in desk, staff will issue you with a physical boarding pass: this shows information like your flight number, the time it’s scheduled to take off and your seat number. It’s also what will grant you access to the aeroplane, so try not to drop it in the excitement in your first trip ‘airside’! Check out our tips for getting through airport security fast and our comprehensive airport tips page for additional advice.

Know your luggage

Even the most seasoned travellers sometimes get confused by airline rules about baggage allowance but as a flying newbie, the first thing to get your head around is the difference between cabin and hold luggage, then to look into whether or not you need to take both: usually, if you’re travelling long-haul (that’s a flight that lasts six hours or more), you will want to ‘check in’ at least one piece of hold luggage which you’ll need to leave at the check-in desk before boarding. It’ll then be returned to you at the other side, where you’ll need to identify it on a luggage carousel.

On many short-haul flights, carriers will allow you to take a bag or case that’s big enough to take most of what you’ll need for a long weekend or city break.

This allows you to keep all your belongings with you for the duration of the flight and means a quicker getaway at your destination.

You’re also more likely to be charged extra for storing baggage in the hold, so it’s good to travel light, particularly when flying with budget airlines.

Check out our guide to flying budget airlines for more specific advice on what you can expect.

All airlines have restrictions on the sizes of bags you can take on board, both for hold luggage and cabin bags. Be sure to check these details with your airline, as there is no universal rule.

On the flight

Once you’ve navigated the airport and made it successfully on to your flight (we hope!), you’re almost ready to take to the sky. Nervous? Read our advice for fear of flying ahead of time, but all you need to do on the airplane is sit back, relax and enjoy having a few hours downtime.

First, you need to find your seat and ensure all your cabin luggage is stowed away correctly.

Most flights, particularly longer ones have assigned seating, so look for a number followed by a letter on your boarding pass such as ’11 D’.

The number relates to the row you’ll be sitting in, while the letter refers to whether it’s an aisle, window or middle seat. The cabin crew – who will be wearing anything from glamorous hats and heels to baggy tees in airline colours – will be happy to help you find your seat and put your luggage in a safe place, which may be in an overhead locker or under your seat.

Prepare for take-off…… Read our next article in the series

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