Flying on a plane can be an exciting adventure for some, while for others it can be a stressful ordeal, especially if it’s their first flight. Aside from the fear of the possibility of the plane crashing (which is extremely low, so we can cross that off our list of concerns right away), navigating the airport can be stressful for many. The whole process can seem complicated, especially for those who are doing it for the first time.
If you are one of those who have never flown before, or have not been to an airport in a long time, then this article is for you. I will explain everything step by step.
1. WHEN TO ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT
It is important to arrive at the airport at least 2-3 hours before your scheduled departure time. There are chances that you will be part of a random check or you may encounter long queues that may cause delays and risk missing your flight.
Terminals are individual airport buildings that may be spaced apart. It is important to know where your flight will take off from. This information can be found on your ticket and can be given to the taxi driver to take you directly to the right place.
3. ORIENTATION AT THE AIRPORT
Each terminal is divided into two sections – public and restricted. The public section is open to anyone, while the restricted section is accessible only after check-in and check-in. The gates are located in this section and are the boarding points.
Upon arrival at the airport, the first step is check-in and check-out. On the information board you will find your flight and the check-in counter number. There you will hand in your passport and get a boarding pass, which is a ticket that allows you to board the plane. At the same time, you hand in your luggage, which travels separately to your final destination.
The counter will also check the weight of your luggage. Should you exceed this weight, you will have to pay a fee or repack your luggage. Therefore, always try to stay within the limit you have purchased.
If you are flying outside the European Union where visas are required, they will ask for them at check-in. Be prepared to be asked to see all necessary documents, including ESTA if you are travelling via the United States. You apply for ESTA in advance through this website (you can already switch to Czech) https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/disclaimer . Expect to be asked for an ESTA fee at the end of the application, so have your credit card ready. The result of the application will be sent to the email you provide in the application. You do not need a visa for Roatán, the visa is obtained automatically on arrival, for a maximum of 3 months.
So what happens at check-in?
- You get a boarding pass, an important piece of paper without which you are not allowed on the plane.
- You check in your baggage (the baggage that doesn’t fly with you in the cabin)
5. SECURITY CHECK
Once you have obtained your boarding pass and checked in your luggage, you will proceed to airport security. You usually go through a turnstile, which is opened by scanning the code on your boarding pass.
Now you enter the most challenging part – checking you and your hand luggage. It’s no longer about weight, but what you have with you. Just past the turnstiles, you’ll encounter strips that resemble those in a supermarket, only surrounded by airport staff. You have to put all your luggage on these belts, including small handbags, mobile phones, keys, etc. But that’s not all. You must remove all electronics from your luggage so that they are visible. We’re talking laptops, cell phones, power banks, digital watches and other devices.
You must not bring any external water into the gate area of the airport. Therefore, you must use up or spill and throw away any water bottles you have before this check. Any liquids you wish to take on board the aircraft must be in transparent containers with a maximum capacity of 100 ml, with an aggregate volume of no more than 1 litre. If you wish to take liquid cosmetics on board, either place them in your checked baggage or transfer them into small containers. These transparent containers must be placed in a transparent bag – such a set can be purchased for 100 CZK in a drugstore, for example. All liquids in transparent containers must be removed from the luggage and placed visibly on the belt. Your luggage, electronics, liquids and other items will go through a large scanner while you go through the scanning gate. If everything is in order, you can collect your belongings on the other side of the belt and that completes the check. You can continue on through the airport.
So what to put on the belt during the security check?
- Electronics (to be taken out of the bag separately);
- Liquids (must be in transparent containers, no more than 100 ml bottles and must not exceed 1 litre in total);
- Backpacks, luggage, small handbags;
- Keys, watches, cell phones, etc.;
- Flat, loose clothing, sweatshirts or jackets.
After clearing airport security, you will be taken to the next part of the airport – the GATES area. A gate (also known as a gate) is the designation for the area from which you directly board the aircraft. There are several gates at most airports, and at large airports there may be several dozen. Because they can be spaced quite far apart, it is advisable to look around when you arrive at the airport and get your bearings – which gate is where.
In this part of the airport you will also find the “Duty Free Zone” where you can buy products tax-free. Although the prices do not seem to be significantly lower than normal, it is still a popular place to shop. In addition, there are a number of shops, cafes and restaurants. Many travellers spend time here waiting for their flight, so you can sit down, eat or perhaps buy water for the plane.
As soon as you enter this area of the airport, look for the departures board and find your flight. Watch for your gate number to appear on the board. It may be there when you arrive, or it may appear just 30 minutes before your flight.
Once your gate number appears on the board, it’s time to head to your gate. This is where your plane will take off and you will board. There are usually airport staff already standing at the gates, preparing to open them. Before the gate opens, watch the board and pay attention to the crew instructions. When “boarding” appears on the board, it means you can board the aircraft. This instruction will usually be announced by the gate staff. At that point, stand in the line (which will usually form) and prepare to board the aircraft. When it is your time, show your boarding pass and passport to the staff, who will then let you on board.
What is boarding and gate
- Gates are the “gates” through which you directly enter the airport;
- There are many gates (dozens of them) at each airport; gates are usually numbered;
- Your plane will depart from one particular gate, the number of which will appear on the departure board before departure;
- Boarding is the instruction to board the aircraft. Once this instruction appears on the departure board, it is time to board the aircraft.
7. BOARDING THE AIRCRAFT
There are two main ways in which you can board an aircraft. The first way is by walking through a glass tunnel that is directly connected to the aircraft door, which allows you to enter the aircraft without having to move around the tarmac. This is the easiest option.
The second method involves walking out onto the tarmac and then being transported by bus to the aircraft, where you board the stairs. Once you board, you simply need to find your seat, which is indicated on your boarding pass.
8. ON THE FLIGHT
At this point, you have successfully boarded the aircraft and are ready to settle in and enjoy your flight. Depending on the length of the flight, you may be offered refreshments or the opportunity to purchase food and drink. On flights longer than 3 hours, refreshments are standard.
There are seat belts at each seat, which you must wear during take-off and landing, as well as during any turbulence. The crew or flight captain will inform you of all these moments in good time.
Upon arrival at your destination, you will disembark from the aircraft. You can either walk around the airport or again take the glass tunnel directly from the aircraft to the terminal.. Once you disembark, there is nothing complicated.
If you are flying within the European Union, you can simply walk out of the airport. Without checked baggage, you proceed in the direction marked exit. If you have checked baggage, you will proceed towards the baggage claim where you will collect your baggage from the conveyor belt.
At smaller airports with fewer of these conveyors, you can easily find your suitcase. At a larger airport, there may be more conveyor belts and you need to keep an eye on the information boards that indicate where your luggage came from.
Once you have collected your luggage, all you have to do is leave the airport. If you are flying outside the EU, you will be checked by an immigration officer before you leave to check your passport and any visas you may have. The process may vary from country to country, but you will always be referred to by arrows, instructions or guidance from other people.
The process of flying, boarding planes and the like is actually not difficult. It is just easy to know what to do and how to do it.
- Arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before departure;
- Find out which terminal you are flying from;
- Enter the airport and find the departures board;
- When “check-in” appears on the board, go to the counter whose number is on the board by your flight;
- At the counter, you will receive a boarding pass and check your baggage if applicable;
- Then go through the turnstiles to the other part of the airport;
- Go through security check, which requires you to remove electronics, liquids and scanners from your luggage;
- You are then free to move around the second part of the airport;
- Find the departures board and watch for your gate number (which is where you enter the plane from);
- When the number appears on the board, move to your gate;
- When boarding is announced, board the aircraft;
- Then it’s just a matter of taking off, arriving and leaving the airport;
- If you have checked baggage, follow the “baggage claim” arrows to collect your baggage;
- If you are flying outside the EU, you will still have to check at immigration.